It’s been amazing to be back in Japan. To see the cherry blossoms has been a dream come true for me. Other than that, we have found a Japan that we didn’t know yet: one where eight people out of ten says our daughter is kawaii (cute), actively saying it out loud and even stopping to talk to her. However, we were also politely invited out of a restaurant when we walked in with her in the stroller – it remains to be discovered if because of the stroller or the baby in it…
We took the train to get to lake Kawaguchiko, one very near Mount Fuji. Seeing Mt. Fuji for the first time was absolutely incredible. Everybody knows mountains are big, but I had never seen something this big. Fuji-san is massive. Incredibly powerful looking, and it’s no wonder the Japanese consider it sacred – I think it has to do with the eruptions that occurred before and people thought it was a god’s doing (Asama, I think? – too lazy to check now).
There are a lot of tourists around here now, something else we hadn’t really experienced before, and there were a lot of them in one of the last trains we took. It was a bad experience, that one. Too hot, too crowded, too long. So we ended up staying at one of the ryokans next to the lake for the night. The next day we explored around and climbed up to Chureito pagoda, to have a full view of Fuji-san. With the cherry trees and the mountains views…it was mesmerizing.
Today we went back to Asakusa and Kappabashi dori. We walked a whole lot, but we saw many things we missed the other times and we walked the old streets of Tokyo around these neighborhoods that are just so heart filling.
In Shimbashi, we visited the famous Nagakin Capsule Tower. This unique capsule hotel was built in the 70s, as a postwar hotel. The design is absolutely amazing and it’s quite a shame to see it a bit degraded.
Thank you all for the get well wishes and the suggestions! Really appreciate it!
After all the excitement at the Koshien we embarked on one of the first Shinkansen back to Tokyo, where we picked up our luggages at our wonderful Airbnb place and went to Mitsui Garden Hotel, where we had been before. The feeling of going back to Ginza only deepened the certainty that the trip was coming to an end, and it was bittersweet.
In Ginza we explored the neighbourhood and discovered even more wonderful places.
So let’s finish this! I miss Japan terribly. We’re already thinking about the next trip to Japan, in a couple of years, and it’s going to be even better than before.
I still have photos from Ireland and Paris to post…! But let’s visit Japan now.
After a wonderful day at Universal Studios, we took the first train out to Osaka, where we walked around a bit and ate our lunch before heading to the Koshien stadium with Atsuko and her boyfriend.
Being at Koshien stadium was like a dream come true for me. I am a big Mitsuru Adachi fan, who, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the best and most famous mangakas, whose mangas focus mainly on sports, namely, baseball. So I’ve been reading baseball mangas for a very long time, and just like any character in those mangas, going to a game at the Koshien was the ultimate goal.
And it did not disappoint one bit. Completely humongous and full of fans dressed appropriately with tiny plastic bats to make some noise while the game was on. There were also girls going around all the time serving beer. Now let’s pause here for a second. I haven’t been in other stadiums or games in any other country besides Portugal, but from my experience, taking plastic bats and drinking alcohol during a game would be a one way ticket to a bloody death at the stands, so I was absolutely amazed, once again, with how civilised Japanese are.
The whole experience was stunning. From eating out of bento boxes to happily celebrate the wins of Hanshin Tigers with everyone around us, to letting go of worm like balloons to celebrate the last point was just an amazing experience, one that we are definitely not going to forget.
There are no words to describe what was really felt by us during nearly four hours. Definitely unforgettable. And here are some videos (with the iPhone 5s)!
I hope you all had a wonderful christmas! I had a really good Christmas with lots of really nice little things, for me and the baby. I really can’t wait to finish the photos from Japan, so I can start uploading more recent photos. This year is going to be very different from all other years so I want to properly document every little detail — not al of them are going to be posted here, of course, but at least a few, yes.
So there are only a couple of batches more to finish the photos from Japan, which also saddens me a bit… but that’s life. Gotta move on.
This post will show you only a small part of this very wonderful day spend at Universal Studios in Japan. On a complete whim, we decided we should take the opportunity of visiting the park because The Wizarding World of Harry Potter had just opened a few days after we arrived in Japan, so we just had to take a look.
It wasn’t as easy as standing in a line to go in, unfortunately. Everyone should have the opportunity to access that part of the park once you get tickets, but it doesn’t really work like that. We quickly learned that we would only go in the Harry Potter park by sheer luck. They would give out lottery tickets that would maybe give you access. We went insane. Basically we got up at 5 am, travelled all the way from Tokyo, booked a hotel in the park, *just* to see the Harry Potter theme park and we might not get a chance to even take a look.
We had to get really nasty and we experienced part of the Japanese culture that, even though we knew it existed, was surprisingly unpleasant for us foreigners. I do not want to go much into it because after everything was solved, we sort of promised we wouldn’t talk about it — even though I was so pissed off that my initial intention was to let the whole world know what was going on — and the guy who tried his best to help us was really really nice, so…
I know this is all very very very vague, but I just wanted to say the minimum, meaning, do not buy tickets specifically to just see the Harry Potter part of the park. You might not get in. If you want more info about this drop me a line.
aaaand having said that, here are the photos!
Before we hit the Jurassic park ride we went to the Back to the Future one, where we met a Swedish girl who was studying in Japan. She was very very very red from the sun and limping from hurt feet and she stuck to us like glue. Don’t ask why. After the ride she was excitingly asking ‘so where are we going next??’ and we knew we were doomed. She talked too much and didn’t seem to have any other plans but to be stuck to us for the rest of the day… After the Jurassic Park ride we got proper wet so we took the opportunity to try get ourselves dry(ish) and we sort of, kind of…lost her.
If by a crazy odd chance you (Swedish girl) are reading this, we really did lose sight of you! Sorry…!
Japanese like to get drunk and they like to get drunk fast. This is a clever blend between some sort of soda and… whiskey. After all we’d been through with the Harry Potter tickets we felt we needed it, and needless to say we were laughing our asses off just a few minutes after this.
The park was absolutely brilliant. It was completely secluded from the rest of the park and it really felt like you were in another world, completely different and very magical. All scenery was spot on, with tiny little details that made everything look even more real. As we were lining up for the Hogwarts ride (we didn’t know it was a ride) we go in through the Herbology class premisses, with Madrakes screaming their lungs out and other sort of things. We go in the castle through a corridor and the gargoyle that guards the Headsmaster’s office can be seen at the end. After that we drop our bags all sort of belongings (hence why I don’t have any pictures from the inside), and go through a number of different classrooms and places until we reach the Gryffindor’s common room, where we get in line again for the ride.
The ride itself is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Even K was screaming next to me. It was a broom ride behind Harry and his buddies, with sudden and very (freaking) close encounters with giant spiders and Dementors. In the end we see the entire school clapping for you because you were able to go through with it. You get off in the Great Hall with flying enchanted candles and all, and a completely new person.
After being in Tokyo for a while we wanted to enjoy just being in the city, without any sort of agenda, so after trying to get tickets to the Ghibli Museum and failing miserably — we should have gotten it ages in advance (we *will* go back) — we decided to enjoy ourselves walking around Shibuya. We had ramen at the same place we had ramen for the very first time, we strolled around the neighbourhood a bit and settled on a bowling game — it was awesome.
We then headed to our own neighbourhood, Harajuku. We thought we had explored it pretty well last year but, alas, we found new very impressive venues. In just seconds, however, it started to pour down Japan-style (=very heavily) and we headed home. In just seconds everything went away and we went out for dinner at an izakaya that specialised in yakitori.
Everything was especially delicious that evening. Mainly because we decided (against previous plans) that we would head to Osaka a day before planned to go to the Universal Studios — The Wizarding World of Harry Potter had opened up just a few days before our arrival in Japan, and there are only two HP parks in the world (the other one is in Orlando), so we decided we should grab that opportunity and go — which meant we were only going to go back to our place in Harajuku two days after this evening, to pick up our bags and move to our hotel in Ginza. So it would be our last night in Harajuku (how I miss this place…!), which became a very special place for us, just like a second home.