Posts Tagged With: Tokyo

“This girl is on fire!” (to be sang like Alicia Keys)

On my way from Asia back to the United States, I made a pit stop in Japan for some family time and to also gather the rest of my belongings. My dear cousin Brandon, who is stationed in the Navy there, let me stash some bags there until my return. Thanks pal!

Most of my previous experiences in this unique country you can read about in other posts. Some of the popular ones are “You know you’re in Japan when…” and Buddha, when we went to visit the 2nd largest Buddha statue in Japan.
For this one, I’m going to wrap up a few random events that leaves me still smiling about a country I wouldn’t want to live in, but don’t want to live without.

First up is my welcome back buffet. It’s becoming tradition that with each visit, we choose a night in which we hit the local store, grab several random items that look good and/or questionable. Here’s a snap shot from last years spread in “Snacks, Japan style”.

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This year we did just fine after wandering the aisles with confusing character writing and giggling store clerks. If you’ve ever been here, you can vouch that a grumpy employee of any customer service industry is rarely seen. They are typically overly eager to help you and smile while they chant something in Japanese (that I still don’t understand). No matter what mood you walk in with, you generally leave feeling the uncontrollable urge to skip to your car. Back to the snacks…here’s our dinner!

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Fun fact: In Japan, “Sunday Funday Football” starts extremely early on Monday morning. I thought I’d give it try and see if any of the local channels would air it. To my surprise there were some enthusiastic hosts describing the highlights!

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For the halftime show, women’s bowling! How do you not smile when you see this?

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Ok, let’s move on to a night out on the town where I get to introduce a new friend. Originally from California, Craigg is also serving in the Navy at the same base as Brandon. Don’t let his easy going attitude fool you, this relaxed guy not only has an abundance of energy, but a sharp witted sense of humor to match. These two boys in the same room will leave your cheeks aching and mind stimulated (and probably slightly confused).

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After our train ride to the city, we laughed the evening away while making random pit stops in the vibrant streets. On this handstand shot, I was more impressed that Brandon captured it on the first try over the fact that my feet didn’t come in contact with any innocent bystanders. For more detail of this specific area, check out the post called “Wait, it’s not Halloween yet…is it?”

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The next and final event was a extraordinary surprise from my moms dear friend Rome. To this day my mom still speaks of the fond memories she created while working with him. On this day, I was lucky enough to be treated like royalty at an Alicia Keys concert right here in Yokohama!

Me and Rome before the show.

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My date to this international opportunity? Only the perfect partner in small crime, Craigg! We had no idea where the seats were, so we just handed the Japanese written card to the guard and followed their finger pointing directions. A few security men later we were finally led to a roped off area on the floor. What? No way! We were in prime seats, three rows from the stage!

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Let the show begin!

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These employees were clearly not enjoying the show.

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…but I was! “Everybody put your phones in the air!” (For those of you under 20 years old, this used to be an arena full of lighters in the sky).

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*Thank you Craigg for bringing your phone to get the pictures from above!

After the show, we dodged the ropes and shined our V.I.P passes to get backstage. What do you find behind then scenes when the curtain drops? Exhausted musicians, random snacks, a variety of drinks and a bundle of hard working crew members. For obvious reasons he didn’t snap any photos in this area.

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Rome, you’ve raised the bar once again. Many thanks and warm hugs!

Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’ll have the mystery meal please.

Yes, I’m the girl next to you on the flight that brings out the buffet of food that I’ve stored in my carry on. Pre-cut veggies, dips, fruit, nuts, crackers and so on. I usually just say “No thank you” when they offer the complementary meal, as I’ve never been a fan of the mystery meat and dinner roll they serve you. This round I thought I’d branch out a bit after I realizing that you get options for specific meals as long as you request it at least 48 hours before your flight. Why not?

First up is a short flight from Chiang Mai Thailand to Bangkok. I picked “Vegetarian” since I had some pumpkin seeds with me and I figured it would be a decent combo. I was served fruit, raw veggies, salsa and a side salad of raw veggies with a dinner roll. Good thing I wasn’t battling hunger (and it was a quick flight) so I just wrapped it up to take on the go.

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First snack of the journey? Leftovers from the previous flight (seen above) with those pumpkin seeds I had in my carry on.

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Next flight was a bit longer traveling from Bangkok to Shanghai, China. For this journey I previously selected “Gluten Free”. They served me poached eggs, steamed vegetables, two servings of fruit and some sort of gluten free bread (I’m assuming made from rice). Please keep in mind this is all for the experience and hopes for something new on a flight. I am in no way intolerant or allergic to any foods nor am I a proper vegetarian. I simply love food and surprises! For this one, I chose to eat the eggs and toast and save the fruit for a separate snack.

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What’s this… left over pumpkin seeds? Perfect!

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I still had a few hours to go while waiting in China, so I busted out my other carry-on meal which was a packet of miso soup. In the Shanghai airport, they have machines that deliver complimentary warm, hot or boiling water. You’d think this would be common, but more often than not, hot water is hard to find. I usually carry my own tea and oatmeal so I’m frequently in search of a cafe that will just put hot water in a cup for me or I settle for paying for the water since they “have to heat it”.

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Quick photo break! Here’s a few shots from the airport in Shanghai, clean with an open layout and traditional shopping options.

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Moving on to the flight from China to Tokyo, Japan. I wasn’t able to pre-select my choice for this 2 1/2 hour jaunt, so when the stewardess came around, I just asked for which ever had the most vegetables. My surprise platter consisted of fruit, rice crackers, veggies, potatoes, beef and a chicken salad. For dessert (I think) was what looked like a firm white custard-type jiggly puck shaped item.

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Although I’m not a vegetarian, I’m certainly a picky meat eater and airplane beef and questionable chicken is far from my first choice of protein. With that said, I transferred all of the veggies to one dish, stashed the rice crackers for later and offered the rest to my neighbor (a teenage boy that was eager for more food). Even he stared at the “dessert” for awhile and with a confused look just covered it up with his napkin.

Landing back in Tokyo my mind is satisfied with the experiment and my stomach is horribly confused and probably a little frustrated with me. Oh we’ll, I’m still happy, healthy and no longer have extreme curiosity of the meals I’ve always skipped on flights.

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Hello Japan, home sweet home? For now.

Categories: Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Shinto Shrine of Meiji Jungu

Lets pause for a minute and (re)introduce you to my amazing cousin Brandon. We grew up seeing each other once every few years when our paths would cross at family gatherings. Our beautiful grandmothers are close sisters and have kept the connection tight. Describing him is simple, he’s patient and kind, yet assertive and witty…. trusting him is easy due to to his sincerity that matches his genuine personality. I know that sounds like a lot of “nice” words thrown into a sentence, but he truly is a quality individual. Here we are almost 20 years ago followed by a picture from last October.

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After enjoying a wonderful visit last year, I’ve returned to Japan to spend time with him and connect with his stunning girlfriend Jessica. She’s the gorgeous girl photoed below that naturally enhances everything around her with a vibrant smile and bright eyes. I would describe her as strong and sweet with just enough spice to keep him on his toes. Between the movie quotes, exaggerated imaginations and our compatible sense of humor, this is definitely a couple that I enjoy being around!

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Today we’re off to visit a sacred park in the city of Harajuku. Traveling throughout Japan is relatively basic due to the convenient train system. From our door step to the nearest station is a simple 5 minute walk and from there, we took a few transfers as we made our way towards Tokyo. Along with us is one of their friends Kennedy, he’s also in the Navy and has been stationed here for 2 years.

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Pit stop for two sweet treats! I feel like we should all live up to the “adult” status and have dessert first once in awhile. Mini cookies made with sweet Japanese potatoes and chocolate chips.

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Ice cream that comes in a handy pouch? Really think about this, no spoon or messy cone, just a perfect serving in a resealable container on the go. Brilliant!

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We’ve made it just in time for a short walk through the city (check out the size of the super crosswalk!) and an hour of exploring at the park. Note to future travelers, the inner park is generally open from 9am-4:30pm.

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Before entering the shrine it’s courteous to cleanse in respect for Meiji Jingu. The proper sequence is to rinse your left hand, followed by your right. Then pour water back into your left hand to rinse your mouth. Continue by rinsing your left hand again and finish by rinsing the dipper.

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Just before bowing through the entrance, I took a brief moment to capture a handstand shot and create a neat photo of this door that caught my eye.

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As you approach the center, you’ll find families, tourists, people dressed in authentic costumes and a variety of exhibits.

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On this day, we even got to witness a wedding!

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Brandon surprised me with a “safe travels” blessing trinket from the shrine. Thanks cousin!

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Leaving the location brought us through a forest that was created in honor of the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken for their souls to dwell in. Each tree was placed and planted by hand!

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An upside-down handstand (in respect of the Shrine and to prevent the Japanese guard from blowing his whistle at me…again).

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After the visit, we took the long route back to the station through the popular Harajuku street. This ended up being so entertaining, that I’m going to save it for the next post! Here’s a sneak peek…

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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