Monday, June 11, 2007

Day 20 - It's over already?

Our last full day in Japan! Rob and I were a couple doors down from our original hotel room, so it was funny to see this view as we exited our door.

I was determined to do three things on our last day. Go to a bookstore, a fabric store, and a last trip to Muji. Luckily, we could do all of these things in Ikebukuro (the neighborhood next to where my mom grew up), so we headed out.

Rob took off on his own and went to see the view atop Sunshine Building.

Mama, Huay and I started off together at Junkudo, billed as “the world’s largest bookstore”. I was only interested in one floor (the craft books, of course) but it was quiet and relaxed, with a huge selection. After that we headed to Kinkado, a store that has clothes, other merchandise, and fabric. Kinkado is store that my mom has a connection with as the parents of a school friend of hers owned it, and she remembers when it was a tiny store in the same location.

There’s a pedestrian street in Ikebukuro called Sunshine Street. It’s nice to walk around and not worry about which direction traffic is coming from.

Our last stop was going to Tokyu Hands again.

But this Tokyu Hands is special, because on the 8th floor they have “nekobukuro”, a place where you can pay about $5.00 to spend some time with some purebred cats! Most of the cats were shy, but it was a fun way to experience some more “only in Japan” moments.

For lunch, Huay requested that we go to a “kaiten zushi” place, or conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Luckily, Ikebukuro had quite a few, so we went into a quieter restaurant for a delicious lunch.

The only downside to our day was that Rob was feeling quite ill. He decided to “do as the Romans do” and wear a face mask.

Why do I have to sit next to the freak?

I spent the afternoon taking a nap (by now my brain was completely fried from transitioning between Japanese and English), while Mama, Huay, and Rob explored more of the area around our hotel. We then made a mad dash to the Ginza Muji (which is huge!), where I gave everyone 40 minutes to do their shopping. By this point in the trip, I was so attuned to Japanese punctuality I had everyone quaking in their shoes. Huay almost didn’t make it, but she was only 5 minutes late.

Our last dinner was spent with Uncle Mimichan, who asked us to meet him at Shibuya next to the Hachiko statue. Well, I think half of Tokyo decided to meet there that night! Quite the crowd and it was fun seeing all the youngsters in their getups.

We had a very nice tonkatsu dinner, then headed back to the hotel. Luckily, our flight didn’t leave until early afternoon and Mimichan drove us to the airport, so our final day wasn’t as frantic as it could have been. However, Rob and I had to buy one more bag for the stuff we bought in Tokyo, and Mama, Huay, and I completely forgot about the “no liquids in carry-ons” rule and all had stuff confiscated. It’s not a trip until someone gets in trouble at the airport!

We landed in LAX seven hours before we left Tokyo (isn’t time difference crazy) and remembered to take one final photo.

Well, that’s it! I hope everyone had a fun time reading about our trip. I asked my other travel companions if they had anything they wanted to say on this final post, and here are their thoughts.


Thanks Mari, Rob and Huay for being great travel companions.
Thanks to Mari for her good research and planning.
I saw places with a different viewpoint, enjoyed the beauty of Japan, and had a great time with family.
When we are traveling there are so many things we can feel and touch. It's so much more than seeing them on a screen or looking at pictures. Now I want to explore, experience and discover more great places.

(The best reward that came from this trip is that Mama wants to travel more. Isn’t that great?)


I just want to thank Mari for this trip. If it wasn't for her, I probably never would have gone to Japan and I certainly would not have done all the amazing things we did on this trip in particular. My favorite part of the trip was getting to meet Mari's and now my extended family. The memories are running the streets with Mimichan, laughing with Kanchan and Kouichisan, and exploring Mashiko with Miyuki and Kinta are unforgettable. I could never have planned and coordinated the trip Mari laid out for all of us, the time and effort she put into it is immensely appreciated, thank you so much.

(Isn’t Rob sweet? Really, I wasn’t trolling for compliments, he’s just that nice!)


If you want to get away and get a different take on life - Japan is a great place to go. I enjoyed the sense of peace and the cultural appreciation of age and beauty in a country that really felt like another world. Traveling with japanese speakers was an amazing opportunity. I'm so glad I went with Mari, Mieko and Rob - I felt like I got to see and have a much richer experience because we got to meet with their family. I miss real japanese food. I miss looking at fabric and gardens and shopping. BTW, went to Mitsuwa for some japanese groceries and discovered that one regular piece of mochi is 300 Calories. (AAAGH!) Which is why I put on some weight...

(Huay is very tiny so don't listen to her talk about her weight gain - I'm sure it was minimal!)

(Hopefully, over the next month or so, I'll post links, travel tips, and our itinerary. So much of what I found was via the internet and not travel guides (which for Japan are woefully lacking) that I think it will be helpful even if you're not traveling to Japan.)

I decided to blog about our trip in detail because I wanted our family members who weren't able to come to experience it with us as much as possible. I hope everyone else who were reading along were able to enjoy it as well, and maybe are inspired to take a trip to Japan one day. It really is an amazing place to travel, between the food, service, and beauty, Japan is ichiban (number one)!


Agnes said...

Reading about your Japan trip is an amazing experience. I haven't been to the country ... not especially crazy about it as so many people in Hong Kong are, but the country is undeniably a unique one. I love that paying $5 for a moment with purebred cats ... why nobody thought of that anywhere else?

caitlyn said...

I have *really* enjoyed reading about your trip, Mari! Thank you so much for sharing with us. I have never been to Japan, and your beautiful photos have inspired me to make sure that I include it on my next trip to Asia.

Courtney said...

I found your blog the day that you left completely by accident and have really enjoyed all of your posts about Japan!
It is on the short list of places my husband and I want to go within the next 5 years, so seeing so much of it through your eyes was really inspiring! Thanks so much for posting while there. Each morning I got my coffee and bagel and sat down to read what you were up to.

Risa said...

I've been a lurker for a while, and have been looking forward every day to your updates on your trip. Thank you for sharing your adventure so thoroughly! I have really enjoyed it.

yumi said...

Mari, Mama, Rob, & Huay, thank you for all the picture taking, blog-uploading, family spending, food & shopping stories. You know that Mina & I (especially Mina-with food) of all the experiences all of you have shared with us. I know I have really appreciated the quickness of having the pictures up so fast. It was one of the things I looked forward to when I got up in the morning. So thank you again for sharing your trip with me and everyone else. It makes me want to go to Nihon. :)

MinaG said...

Mari, I almost cried reading this last entry of your trip. I am really touched by all the final thoughts of your fellow travelers. This has been so much fun reading about your experiences, it really did feel like I was there (although I couldn't taste the delicious food). Thanks for all the time and effort you put into these entries. I loved every single one!

Kelly said...

Thanks for including all of us readers in your trip! I've loved reading your updates and getting to see Japan through your pictures and stories:) Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

I've so enjoyed reading about your trip and am also sad to see it end! I lived there for two years while in college and am feeling so natsukashii! I haven't been back in nearly 10 years, but I definitely want to plan a trip sometime soon.
Thank you so much for sharing with us.

SJ said...

Hi Mari,

I haven't commented on your previous Japan posts but I have been reading them, and I just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed them! I've never been anywhere near Japan and it looks like such a fascinating and fun place! Thanks for taking us all along with you.

Don't forget to show us all the crafty stuff you picked up on your trip!

Nell said...

I've loved this series of posts. So very enjoyable. And I'm very jealous of the trip.

You definitely have to show us all your new crafty things!

Stephanie Lynn said...

I'm glad you all had a safe return home. I have really enjoyed reading about your travels. I would love to visit Japan someday and I'm sure your experiences there will help guide my own.

Now I'm looking forward to seeing all the great things you bought!

Marisa said...

Your blog is stellar and the pix of Tokyo remind me of my trip there. I'm jealous, but glad you had so much fun. Thanks for sharing the details!

Navi said...

Thank you for sharing this amazing trip with us, the beautiful photos and specially the food details. I read all your travel and made me want to visit Japan again so badly!

I sure you had a blast, be sure to post pics of the shopping you did.

Terhi said...

Thank you so much for sharing Japan with us! I've been enjoying your writing and photos tremendously, and I too wanna see everything you bought! :-D

Kristy said...

Thanks for blogging so extensively about your trip...the whole thing looked amazing! You've got me wanting to travel to Japan now. :)

ingrid said...

Just wanted to say that I've thoroughly enjoyed reading about your trip to Japan. I'd love to travel there someday!

lexer said...

Thank you for for sharing your picutres and thoughts about your trip! I've really enjoyed reading them.

Mykal said...

Thanks for these wonderful trip postings. I might be travelling to Japan with my boyfriend and his family this fall(we're all english only speaking americans.) I'm kind of terrified of getting around not knowing the language though. Seeing all your amazing pictures really confirms that no matter how scary international travel can be it'll be worth it if we do go.

goosefairy said...

I have loved every post and am now committed to trying to get to Japan. Thank you for the blogs, the photos and for sharing it all with us.

I hope Rob is feeling better.

Amanda said...

I'm so sad that your trip is over! I've enjoyed your pictures and stories SO MUCH! Thank you for sharing it all with us and for putting Japan at the very top of my dream vacation list!

yaiAnn said...

Thanks so much for sharing. I really wanted to be there every step of the way with you! (Or at least just at the meals!) hee hee..

Faye said...

Your blog has been one of my regular reads for some time now, as I've enjoyed your knitting. But I've really enjoyed reading about your amazing trip to Japan. Thanks for all the beautiful pics and detailed posts! You're really inspiring me to get back into sewing again.

Jen said...

Beautiful photos! I'd love to visit Japan someday. Thank you for sharing!