I went to Japan for the first time with my brother as a sibling vacation - something we hadn't done before! Hotels were sorted in Shinjuku, Shibuya and a brief stint in Kyoto and this asian adventure for the year was a wonderful cultural and foodie experience to have had.
We flew on JAL and the trip getting from SYD ---> NAR was a little triply on turbulence. However the in-flight entertainment and airline food passes the time by along with some sleep.
When we got there, we were a little hesitant on whether or not there would be any lost in translation moments or cultural shocks. Now that I think of it, there really wasn't anything too big or too minor to report. We got by, but admittedly mostly because (huge sigh of relief) that I had several local friends being tour guides during our stay.
I really enjoyed having some wonderful Japanese meals. Namely, it was super awesome to see that they have a building that has levels that are made just for dining. No shops in-between floors or stores, just simply different food and beverage cafes and restaurants on each floor. We went to I think, the eighth floor to try a Katsu specialty restaurant and enjoyed the set meals we ordered. Beautiful ingredients that were clean, simple and tasty. Minimal and cute presentation and these Katsu meals came with miso soup with small clams for extra flavour.
And then for our snack time we decided to picnic by the Yoyogi Park with a nearby treat - takoyaki balls and refreshing melon soda soft drink. The street vendor is nearby the famous bridge that teenagers often gather to chill out in their latest Harajuku fashion. Sundays are the most popular gatherings of fashion-minded outfits including lolita, visual kei and cosplay outfits worn by youths. It was a shame I didn't go on that day, would have loved to see those outfits on people.
The pictured left (as above) are of almond glazed sweet potato fries. This turned out a treat! Warm, sticky sticks of the potato were a great nibble as we went onto the subway.
For the first few nights we stayed in the heart of Shinjuku in the Gracery Hotel Shinjuku which has a giant Godzilla figure on it's top terrace as the mascot of the building which shares a ground floor of restaurants, a cinema theatre and high floored hotel. The facilities of the Hotel was good and services great with staff that had English speakers just in case. I think whenever I made a phone call internally, they knew to have an English speaker connect through because it was a few rings before I got a "Good Morning" or "Hello" in english straight off. We also opted to borrow a wireless Wi-Fi pocket modem from the Front Desk which turned out helpful to staying connected with back home or if we began to get lost in the city.
After being in Tokyo for ages I do really miss those nifty japanese toilets! They are amazing! If you haven't come across one on your travels, you're missing out... haha! It's quite hygienic and sensible system and often was everywhere. I actually was thinking that there may have been more of those squatting toilets around which as a westerner I'd be stuck going "What do I do now?" but really, I only came across those maybe twice in the whole trip away.
The city is wonderful at night - full of night life as we observed the sun set from above in Tokyo Tower in Tokyo city. 360 panoramic views are gorgeously lit at night with high scrapers and in the distance we could make out the faint outline of Mt. Fuji which we couldn't go to see during this particular trip.
To Be Continued...