A Week In Tokyo – Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of my Week In Tokyo series. If you want to go back to see Day 1 and Day 2, see the links at the bottom of the post.

DAY 3 | Odaiba 

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Take the Monorail

Today we’re taking you to Odaiba and one of my favorite ways to get there is by taking the Yurikamome line, Tokyo’s first fully automated train line. Land yourself a spot in the front car and take in the sights as you cross the sea. You can hop on at the start of the line at Shimbashi station.

Hours: 5:45 – 00:30

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Miraikan | Science museum

I enjoy visiting the science museum for it’s special exhibitions. Last summer, I went to a video game exhibit where you could play dozens of arcade games or preview a new VR game for the price of admission. From April to September, Miraikan will have an exhibit called “The Art of Disney”, with drawings, sketches, and behind-the-scenes materials. You can see what new exhibit will be on display during your visit by checking out the website linked below.

Hours: 10:00 – 17:00

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Gundam | Diver City Tokyo Plaza 

After the museum, head over to Diver City mall to check out the Gundam statue. Standing at 59 feet (18m) tall, this is the world’s only full-size Gundam statue. Even if you’re not an anime fan, it’s a sight to be held.

Update: I just read that the Gundam statue will be leaving Odiba after March 5, 2017. Fingers crossed that this only means the statue will be gracing us in another section of town soon. I’ll keep you posted.

Hours: 24/7

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Food Court 

Grab some lunch in the Diver City food court. I know you might be thinking, “Food court mall food!? That’s not why I traveled here!” But trust me. This isn’t Panda Express. The first floor offers an array of delicious options like tonkatsu ramen, takoyaki, Hawaiian food, and more. After lunch, you can go shopping or head to our next stop.

Hours: 10:00 – 22:00

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Joypolis 

Joypolis is an indoor amusement park but that label doesn’t do it justice. There are arcade games, rides, simulators, laser tag, food, and more! Nobody does arcades quite like Japan. Joypolis can be found in other cities across Japan as wel,l but usually on a smaller scale, without the rides.

Hours: 10:00 – 22:00 (Last entry 21:15)

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Venus Fort mall

With the mood lighting, painted sky ceiling, and the medieval European architecture, this mall feels like a Vegas casino. It’s a nice place to walk around, especially in the summer when you want to escape the heat. Venus Fort is part of a larger complex which also includes other attractions which we’ll talk about below.

Hours: 11:00 – 21:00

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Toyota History Garage

This mini car museum is located on one side of Venus Fort mall. Here you can view many historic cars from all over the globe. It’s not worth a trip to Odaiba just for this exhibit, but if need something to keep your boyfriend or dad busy while you’re off shopping, this a good place to drop them off.

Hours: 11:00 – 21:00

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MEGA Web Toyota City Showcase 

After you’ve taken your selfie with the car from Back to the Future, head over to the Toyota City Showcase. This exhibit showcases the future of Toyota technology and is much more interactive. You can play a few video games or try out the Toyota Winglet (think Segway only much more compact). Like the historic garage, this exhibit is also located within Venus Fort.

Hours: 11:00 – 21:00

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Daikanransha | Ferris wheel

Adjacent to Venus Fort is my favorite ferris wheel in Japan. I’m slightly biased because this is where my fiance proposed to me. It’s colorful and beautiful against a blue sky. You can choose one of the colored cabins or one of the glass bottom cabins for the 16 minute ride. I like coming during the day but it’s also romantic at night when you can see the sparkling city lights.

Hours: 10:00 – 22:00

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Statue of Liberty Tokyo 

For any American readers out there, you might enjoy this next spot. Outside of Aqua City Odaiba mall, there is a replica lady liberty that makes a great photo opp. Overlooking the bay, this spot is where you’re going to want to camp out to get a good view of Rainbow Bridge. Which brings us to our last recommendation…

Hours: 24/7

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Rainbow Bridge 

Stay till after dark and you can see Odaiba’s beautiful and iconic rainbow bridge. The colors will change depending on certain holidays or events. During the month of December, there are winter fireworks at Rainbow bridge every Saturday. This is one of the best places to view fireworks in Tokyo outside of the summer season. Check out the site below for schedules.

Hours: Sunset – 00:00

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If you liked this post and want to see more recommendations in Tokyo, check out the links below.  Be sure to follow the blog if you’d like to receive guides for Days 4-7. Thanks for reading!

Day 1  | Day 2 | Day 3

♥︎K

A Week In Tokyo – Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of my Week In Tokyo series. If you want to visit go back to see Day 1, see the links at the bottom of the post.

DAY 2 | ASAKUSA + UENO

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Asakusa Shrine | Sensoji 

Start your day at Asakusa Shrine and beat the crowds. This is one of the most beautiful Shinto shrines in the city. The entrance is marked by the Kaminarimon Gate and a huge red chochin lantern. In front of the shrine is an area of market stalls with food and souvenirs. The whole area is charming for tourists and locals.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Tokyo for New Year’s Eve, Asakusa Shrine is filled with thousands and thousands of people counting down to the big moment. It’s wonderful and exciting but also terrible if you hate crowds.

Shrine Hours:  Typically 06:00-15:00 (Temple Grounds always open)

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Sky Tree

Sky Tree is another great place to see a beautiful view of the city. In addition, there is a large shopping mall, an aquarium, restaurants, and more all in one centralized location. Be sure to grab your day tickets for the tower before heading into the mall. Day tickets do not have a specific time window so you may have to wait. Or save yourself time by purchasing tickets in advance. Having opened in 2012, Sky Tree is still relatively new so there will likely be a crowd to go up the tower.

Hours: 11:00 – 20:00

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Ueno Park

Ueno Park is one of my favorite places to drink a cup of coffee and people watch. Grab a cup of coffee at the Starbucks and grab a seat by the fountain or under the tree and relax. If you happen to be visiting during sakura season, you’ll find Ueno filled with friends enjoying food and drinking under the beautiful pink blossoms.

Hours: 05:00-23:00

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Visit a Museum or the Zoo 

After you’ve enjoyed a coffee break, you can visit one of the many wonderful museums in Ueno Park like the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science, or the Ueno Zoological Gardens. Most have entrance fees under 800 yen (about $8!) which is a bargain.

Hours: For most 08:00-17:00

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Ameyoko Shopping street

After you’ve become more cultured, take a break and do some shopping. Ameyoko shopping street is once of my favorite places to walk around. You can find everything from sneakers to perfume to spices along the road and alleyways. My favorite purchase I made here was my Japanese sukajan bomber jacket.

Hours: Varies per store

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Izakayas

All that shopping probably made you hungry. Luckily, Ueno is filled with many izakayas for you to choose from. This place transforms into a lively bar scene when the sun goes down. Izakayas serve Japanese bar food mostly in small dishes meant to be shared over drinks. I LOVE izakaya food. When I went to Japan in December, this was our first stop. Order a “nama biiru” (draft beer), any of yakitori (skewers), karage (fried chicken), edamame, a grilled fish, and potato salad. That will get you started in the right direction. There are izakayas all over Tokyo and I recommend visiting as many as you can. Tokyo Cheapo made a great beginner’s guide to izakayas that I recommend reading if it’s your first trip.

Hours: Typically last order around 23:00

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If you liked this post and want to see more recommendations in Tokyo, check out the links below.  Be sure to follow the blog if you’d like to receive guides for Days 3-7. Thanks!

Day 1  | Day 2

♥︎K

A Week In Tokyo – Day 1

Tokyo is one of my favorite cities on the planet and I feel very lucky I got to call it home last year. After our recent visit in December, I was inspired to write a guide to some of my favorite places. For anyone that’s traveling to Tokyo (or living there now), I’ll be writing a series called “A Week in Tokyo” where I give you a day by day guide on places to visit/eat/shop. So here we go!

DAY 1 | ROPPONGI + SHIBUYA

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Roppongi Mori Art Tower (Tokyo City View | Sky Deck)

Get your lay of the land with a beautiful view of Tokyo. This is my favorite place in all of Tokyo. If the weather isn’t great, you should switch this day with another. The view is still amazing but you won’t be able to go out on the sky deck. If you’re traveling with a significant other, you might want to come back just before sunset. It’s very romantic.

Hours: (usually) 10:00-23:00

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Tokyo Midtown 

After visiting the sky deck, head down the road to Tokyo Midtown. You can enjoy some shopping in the mall then head out to the man-made park to enjoy some beautiful nature right in the city. If you visit during the summertime, grab some snacks at the grocery shop in the basement of Tokyo Midtown then have a picnic outside.

Shop Hours: 11:00-21:00

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BrewDog Roppongi

This recommend is more for the expats who have been in Tokyo for a while. Sometimes you need a break from Asahi and Kirin. A great spot to grab a few non-Japanese beers with friends is BrewDog. This place is extremely foreigner friendly and many of the staff members speak English. They have a wide selection of beers on draft and a delicious menu to go with it. There’s also a Super Nintendo you can play. Get your Street Fighter on.

Hours: 15:00-24:00

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Shibuya Crossing

Catch a bus or the train from Roppongi and head over to Shibuya. This is the famous crosswalk you always see on the movies. It’s something to be experienced. Look for the Hachiko exit when exiting the station.

Hours: 24/7

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Shopping at Shibuya 109

See what Japan’s young and fashionable ladies are wearing by heading over to Shibuya 109. For the guys, there’s a Shibuya 109 Men’s across the road.

There’s tons of other places to shop in Shibuya but for now you’ll just want to browse so you’re not carrying lots of bags for the rest of the night. Besides, it’s day 1, you have plenty of time for shopping later! BUT if you can’t help yourself and you buy too much, you can usually rent lockers in the train station for a few hours to store your goodies until you’re ready to head home.

Hours: 10:00-21:00

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Dinner at Genki Sushi

This place is my favorite kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurant in Tokyo. It’s delicious, affordable, and it’s a chain so you can find them in different locations around the city. Try to go slightly before or after regular meal times or you’ll find yourself waiting for a seat.

Hours: 11:00-24:00

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See a Concert at the Chelsea Hotel

I love live music and I especially love live music in other countries. You don’t need to understand the language to feel engaged with the music. This basement venue is a great place to check out a punk/rock show. Check out their schedule online to see if there’s a show when you’re visiting or just drop by and take a look.

Hours: Varies

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I hope you enjoyed this list for Day 1. Subscribe and stay tuned to get guides for Days 2-7.

♥︎K

I FINALLY FINISHED SOMETHING

Do you ever start a project and your lazy, self-doubting personality gets in the way of  you finishing it? Yeah, that was me.

I spent WAY too long wondering whether people would make fun of me for making a vlog. But guess what? I DID IT ANYWAY!

Hallelujah! It feels so good to finally finish something. I had a lot of fun making this. It’s a much better use of my time than Netflix (shh, Netflix, I still love you). And you know what? From just ONE VIDEO, I’ve learned so much about vlogging and YouTube.

So here it is. I’m so happy to share this with everyone. My first ever vlog/travel guide taken during my travels to Hong Kong.

I hope 2017 will bring more vlogging and videos. I think 2017 is going to be a big year for me and it’d be great to have it recorded.

I’ll be heading to Japan in 3 days for Christmas. I can’t wait to see all the beautiful illuminations and to spend time in one of my favorite cities on earth, Tokyo.

Have a great day y’all.

♥︎K

My First Trip to Japan

I first traveled to Japan back in November 2014. It was my first trip as a solo female traveler.

While my girl friends glamorized the idea of solo traveling, I thought it sounded awful and swore to never do it. But when my best friend could no longer come with me, I had to make a choice: give up on a trip I had been planning for a year and dreaming of for decades, or travel alone.

I tried to keep my anxiety at bay by planning, researching, and creating all kinds of lists. I had screenshots of maps, PDF guidebooks saved to my phone, Japanese dictionary apps… Backup copies of my passport and all my hotel bookings. Backups OF THOSE backups. I went a little overboard. But I think most people do on their first trip abroad alone.

I’m so happy I came because I gained so much more confidence in myself. And that trip was what ultimately let me know that I could live in Japan on my own.

While working on a video today, I found an old edit I made of my first trip. I don’t know why I never posted it but here it is. It’s been long enough that the shots all feel dreamy and nostalgic.

Right now, the biggest news in my life is that I’m moving to Yokohama next month! I’ll be staying with Interac and starting a new contract with a few elementary schools for this coming school year. I can’t wait to explore Yokohama and discover a new part of Japan. And I can’t wait to be closer to the madness that is Tokyo. I always dreamed I would live near Tokyo and now that’s a reality.

Dreams do come true kids.

 

♥︎K

Kirin Beer Factory

Last month we visited the a Kirin Beer factory called Kirin Beer Park Okayama. They offer free tours with a free beer tasting at the end. That’s right- FREE.

DSC_0070.JPGTo get here from Okayama Station, take the JR Sanyo line to Mantomi Station. It’s about 25 minutes away and costs 320 yen.

DSC_0073.JPGThe factory is about a 10 minute walk from the JR Mantomi Station. But if that’s too far of a walk for you, there are shuttle buses that will drive you straight to the factory’s front door. And that’s free too.

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The tour is about 1 hour long. It’s given in Japanese but if you let them know, they will give you a small pamphlet that explains everything in English. They recommend making a reservation in advance. You can do that online or by calling their number.

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The tour started off with an introduction video (in Japanese), then we were taken on a tour of the brewing area where we got to sample hops. We learned that the reason they are called Kirin Ichiban (meaning #1) is because they use a single wort brewing process. “Wort” is the liquid that has all the sugars that will be fermented later to produce alcohol.

Most other beers use the first and second wort.We got to sample the difference between first and second worts and the first wort is very, very sweet.

At the end of the tour, we were taken to a cafeteria like area where we had about 1 hours to sample 3 different beers. There are also non-alcoholic drinks available for kids or your designated driver.

 

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It wouldn’t be Japan if without omiyage. In the gift shop, I found some delicious chocolates with a beer jelly filling. Each chocolate was wrapped to look like a small beer can. So cute!

Make sure you take the train. The staff will ask you how you arrived and if you’re the driver, they will give you a pass that says you’re not allowed alcohol. Besides, they make it too convenient to get there without a car. Be safe friends!

If you live in the area, I highly recommend checking it out with your friends. Who doesn’t love free beer?

 

Today is Hakada Matsuri or the Naked Man Festival. They day where hundreds of men wear practically nothing in the freezing cold and fight for a rod that is said to bring a year of luck. This should be interesting. If you’re in the area, come join in on the fun!

♥︎K

West Japan Bucket List

Less than 3 months till our Okayama contract is over. Didn’t we just move here?

I’ve made a bucket list of places in Okayama and nearby prefectures that I’d like to see before I leave West Japan. Some are places that were so amazing, I just need to see them again. Like Naoshima.

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My West Japan Bucket List

  1. Tottori
  2. Yubara Onsen
  3. Fukuoka
  4. Osaka/Kyoto/Kansai Area
  5. Universal Studios Japan
  6. Mr. Kinoshito’s
  7. The Ohara Museum in Kurashiki
  8. The Naked Man Festival
  9. Fabric Town Kojima Festival (or anywhere denim is dyed)
  10. Naoshima (again)

 

I’d love to hear your recommendations! Where would you like to visit?

 

K♥