Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Tokyo Drift

When I first arrived in Tokyo, I had the complete Lost in Translation experience.
Imagine having to encounter signs like these everywhere...

Well, to be honest, one of the great things about Japan is that they are resilient about maintaining their culture and traditions... and that includes their language. All their signs are in Kanji, and barely anything is written in alpha numeric. It's great for Japan and I mean that with all my heart. It's just a little challenging for tourists like me to get around, not knowing a lick of Japanese language apart from the basic "Ohayou Gozaimasu" and "Arigato!"

I was very lucky to be staying with my best friend from high school who has been there for 10 years and speaks the language quite fluently. As long as I was with her, I was okay. :)

The first thing I wanted to do was EAT. I love Japanese food, and I wasn't going to waste a minute in Tokyo without eating Sushi and Ramen. 

 Their Ramen was so good, it literally hurts to eat it. I inhaled most of the things I ate there!

Whenever I visit new places, I usually explore their local grocery stores. You can find out a lot about a country's culture by what they eat... and based on this photo below, you can tell the Japanese like sweets :) So do I! :) Yum!

I also pay attention to "signs". Figuratively, and in Japan, LITERALLY. :) Their "Engrish" signs are so cute! :)

After I've had my bit of fun with food and signs, I went over to one of the main things that drew me to Japan in the first place: The Hachiko Statue at the Shibuya Station. :)

The Hachiko Statue was built in honor of a faithful Akita called Hachiko, who is remembered due to his remarkable loyalty to his owner, even after death. Yes, I've seen both movies: The Japanese and American versons. :) If you haven't, you should! Both are really good... they brought me to Japan, didn't they? :)

And being the true celebrity magnet that I am, I found myself in the middle of the Japanese Paparazzi - who were waiting for this guy...

This is Lee Byung Hun... a Korean superstar who's been in several American films, like GI Joe! :) I didn't really know who he was, but all the ladies around me were going nuts over him!

I didn't care much for him... but I DID get super excited when I bumped into this guy!

A Sumo Wrestler!!! Isn't that amazing? He looks a little skinny for a Sumo, but I was all too happy he obliged for a fan photo! :)

I also bumped into a bunch of ladies wearing Kimono's. I was surprised there were still a LOT of women wearing Kimonos all over Japan. I thought it was brilliant! They look so beautiful in them! We all know I love those things, right? Especially when you get served some tea afterwards? :)

I tried my luck in meeting the Emperor too, but I wasn't as fortunate. I did manage to snag a photo of the Imperial Palace though... Even from afar, it looked really beautiful. 

Other things that kept me occupied were...

Jump Shots in busy Tokyo Streets...

Adoring little Japanese school girls - in a non creepy way. (Look how cute they are though!!!)

Adoring cute and fashionable Japanese girls in Shibuya (and wishing I were as sassy as them)...

Exploring and getting lost in Japanese Gardens...

And lastly, admiring the beautiful city of Tokyo at night...

Tokyo really is a magnificent city. It reminds me so much of Manhattan... the lights, the people, and the manic energy! The food is amazing, the transportation is very efficient... and even if there is a language barrier (no matter how much I've been told that people in Tokyo speaks a lot of English, I have discovered, that no, they do not) the Japanese are *soooo* nice and helpful, that they will do their best in assisting you, even if it means standing with you for 10 minutes making up a new kind of sign language, just to be able to help. I love the Japanese.. they are amazing people!

So that is my Tokyo Drift in a nutshell... I did spend time in Kyoto as well, and that place deserves a post all on its own. Kyoto is *so* different from Tokyo - in a good way!

I spent about 8 days total in Japan, and I had such a great time. My advice for people who are planning to visit --- try to learn a little Nihongo before you go. The basics like - hello, how much, where is the toilet, how do I get to this station, can you help me find this temple, - will go a loooong way. That, and go on a diet before your trip. You'll want to eat as much of their food as possible. ;)