Landing in Japan was SURREAL. I still couldn’t believe that we managed to make this leg of the trip work out and I was like, you know, feeling so hashtag blessed. I was also secondhand stoked for Chooch because Japan is his Korea, so I was happy that we were able to get him there. Hopefully he’ll remember this when it’s time to for the “should we put mom in a home” talk.
CHOOCH, YOUR MOTHER GAVE YOU THE BEST TRAVEL MEMORIES OF YOUR CHILDHOOD. NEVER FORGET.
Plus, he was excited because when we landed, we had to exit the plane onto the tarmac, and he’s “always wanted to do that” apparently?
The bathroom is Narita Airport was majestic. LOOK AT IT! I TOOK THIS PICTURE SO YOU COULD SEE!!
Full disclosure: we definitely don’t know much about Japan so we were kind of unprepared. Except that we at least already had a wad of Yen, at least. And in Korea, at least I can read it and know how to say basic things. Plus, Henry and Chooch have that subway system completely figured out.
(Not me. I just rely on them because I’m too busy looking at things and smiling.)
Having already been in Korea twice kind of killed the VENDING MACHINE EXCITEMENT for us. Now we’re just spoiled and come to expect that kind of convenience. *hair flip emoji*
Henry eventually figured out how to purchase tickets for the Skyliner Train that took us to Tokyo. I was so excited to get out of the airport and actually see some things! It was already about 6:30pm so we didn’t have much time for too many touristy things.
Henry immediately started watching his dumb Netflix shows (probably a Western or something) before the train even pulled out, so Chooch and I were cracking up.
I didn’t do anything on the train, not even write in my vacation journal, because I was too busy looking out the window and taking it all in. I get that we were in a completely different country from Korea, but I was still low-key stunned at just HOW DIFFERENT it was, even just looking at the scenery out of the train window! If I had to summarize it a succinct as possible, I’d have to say that Japan just seemed more green.
Our hotel/guest house was in Ueno, and that was one of the stops on the Skyliner train. Henry probably planned it that way, but maybe I’m giving him too much credit. Of course though since we were in a new country, Henry fucked up the directions and took us out the wrong station exit and we stood around sweating and arguing until he sorted his shit out, GOD HENRY.
*insert Henry & the School Girls joke here*
I assumed that sign meant that Chooch was supposed to hold my hand, but he WOULD NOT.
We found our hotel pretty easily once Henry got his directions righted, and I was excited because we had to keep our shoes in a locker! Also, most of my pictures are blurry from this night because it WAS SO FUCKING HUMID that the lens on my phone was literally wet and probably melting too.
The slippers they gave us were way too big for me and I had the hardest time walking up the steps in them. I think they girl at the front desk was totally annoyed with us but she kept smiling anyway because people in Tokyo are SO FRIENDLY. That was my second impression, after “wow, Japan is green.” It was kind of shocking because in Korea, it’s not that people are cold per se, but most that we encounter aren’t overly friendly, especially to foreigners, unless you’re in a legit tourist area, like Lotte World or one of the palaces, etc.
But here, it was like next level hospitality.
I didn’t take a picture of our room but it WAS A SHOEBOX. We walked in and one bed was RIGHTTHERE, and then a second bed was elevated a bit on a platform-like loft. Then there were two shelves on the wall with a TV, kettle, towels, and the smallest bathroom I’ve ever used in my whole life. At first we were like ARE YOU KIDDING but it’s amazing how quickly you acclimate when you’re fucking exhausted and also remember that you’re really only going to be using that room to sleep and shower anyway….so then it just felt cozy. Haha. And also kind of hysterical because yes, put the dysfunctional American family into the smallest room possible.
We were arguing about something, who knows what at that point, when I opened the window and realized that there was a shared balcony out there. So I went out to the hallway to access it and discovered a young European girl sitting out there, smoking. I was so embarrassed knowing that we had given her some belligerent noise pollution, but then she was concerned that her smoking was bothering us and I was like, “Look, your cigarettes are no worse than our loud mouths” except that IT CAUSES CANCER BUT WHATEVER.
She was nice enough.
I took this picture from outside the guest house. Chooch and I were cracking up because when we got outside to go exploring, I asked Henry if he had the wifi thingie and he was like SHIT so he had to go back inside, take his shoes off, and run up to the third floor. I couldn’t imagine why it was taking him so long but it turned out that he actually came back down when we weren’t paying attention, put his shoes back on, and then realized that he forgot his wallet in the room, so he had to take his shoes off again and go back up.
What a n00b.
But apparently he bonded with the European girl’s dad because he had to keep going back up to the room too BUT WERE THEY WERE ACTUALLY HAVING A SECRET RENDEZVOUS?
This was us waiting outside for Henry and instantly losing 3 pounds from sweating while doing absolutely nothing more than standing still. Asian humidity is on another level, you guys. Moist moist moist.
Green Hotel was just a 5-minute walk from the nearest subway station. Henry took us to the wrong side of the platform and didn’t realize it until after we bought our tickets but luckily the nice Subway fare attendant cut us some slack for being Dumb Americans, let us leave, and then let his buddy on the other side know what the deal was so we didn’t have to pay for new tickets.
What a nice freaking guy!
My first impression of the subway was that it’s not as good as Seoul, but better than anything I’ve experienced in America. It’s funny because in Korea, as soon as you step on the subway, PEOPLE LOOK AT YOU. Eventually they look away, but there’s definitely that foreigner curiosity there. In Tokyo, no one gave us a second glance so that aspect of it felt a bit more comfortable. But physically, the Seoul subway is definitely more comfortable. Their stations are better, too. (To be fair, we didn’t get to experience very many different stations in Tokyo though!)
Our half-assed agenda was to go to uber-popular Shibuya so Chooch could see the statue of the dog that waited for his owner to come back for him for like 7 years, not knowing that he had died. Wow. How uplifting!!
Is it weird that Shibuya Crossing seemed not as insane in real life?! I kept asking Henry, “Are you sure this is really it? It seems a lot smaller.” I mean, we crossed the street with everyone else and it wasn’t overwhelming like I was expecting it to be, but it was cool to do it!
I am soooo not an expert at Japanese stuff so we just walked around, checked out some shops, and took it all in with no itinerary or agenda. I didn’t even know where to start but all I know is that I wanted to buy everything I saw, especially all the cute makeup stuff! Even the Pokemon makeup, and I don’t even like Pokemon.
We were there specifically to go to Disney Sea the next day, so any free time we had was limited and therefore, I didn’t really spend much time researching what to do because I didn’t want to be stressed out about trying to fit everything in. So I was happy to just stroll about and look at things…
…until we started getting hungry. And by then it was after 10pm and I didn’t want to be out super late because we had to get up early the next day. So we decided to just head back to Ueno and grab something quick to eat near the hotel before we spent all night arguing over food.
We could have just eaten pizza at Mean’s, which I didn’t even notice until just now when I glanced at that picture, haha. None of us really wanted to sit down for a full meal at 10pm so we decided to head back to Ueno.
Art outside of Shibuya Station – I was obsessed.
These posters were all over the subway station. A few weeks after we came home from vacation, Chooch asked, “Did you see that picture of the guy in Toyko that looked like a Japanese Pee Wee Herman….” and I said, “OH YOU MEAN THIS GUY” and shoved my phone in his face. “Of course you have a picture of it,” he sighed, but I knew he was secretly happy.
Chooch and Henry argued at the fare machine, because this is tradition now, and then we managed to make it back to Ueno without killing each other. We stopped at Family Mart back in Ueno, which became a running joke since we were like ARE WE EVEN A FAMILY?!?! and grabbed some things to eat for dinner, which is difficult when you want to eat all the things!
We brought back an array of noodles and rice and cool drinks and pizza back to the room and stuffed our faces.
In my vacation journal that night, I wrote this:
“10:58PM: Ugh Japan is awful because of Henry. He is so annoying! We’re eating convenience store food and he said, “Here, have some pizza!” in this phony, kind voice so I said, “You sound like a church person” and Chooch started laughing into his ramen so Henry yelled at him and said, “THERE’S OTHER PEOPLE WHO WANT TO EAT THAT” and I said, “Yeah. ‘Other people.’ There’s a line outside the door.”
But then we all started cracking up and went to bed. Aside from the hunger games we went through earlier that night, it was a great day but we all definitely needed the sleep. It was a long day of traveling (airports are soooo stressful) and we had to get up super earlier the next day to start our Disney odyssey!