After settling in at our traditional house, we took a look at the map to see what sites were nearby and decided to take the 15-minute walk to Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion. We wound our way through side streets like this but, thanks to our phones with Google Maps, we didn’t get lost.
Day 7 saw us arise bright and early to head to Shibuya Station so we could catch the Narita Express for our Shinkansen to Kyoto. Though it had rained the previous day, we were fortunate in clear dry weather. However, we had a cold snap and it was really chilly – with wind. Brrr! One of my friends had a companion to keep him warm, though.
Day 6 was a low-key day for us as today was the breaking of the fellowship with one of our number heading back to the U.S. and the next morning the remaining 3 of us would be catching the Shinkansen for Kyoto. Our imminently departing friend hadn’t been feeling well so we stayed in for the morning, hence the uneventful post.
Not to say that we had a totally quiet morning: to hopefully make himself feel better, he ended up downing some energy drink packaged in a pink bottle that made him feel a bit jittery and wired, which was somewhat comical. None of us had any idea of what was in the drink but it had 47 of something and 25 of something else so it must have been good, right? It seemed to make him feel better, even if he was bouncing off the walls. We didn’t worry about him much, though, as we all kept saying, “Trust him, he’s a doctor,” because he is (of medicine, even). Continue reading
We were fortunate to have no rain on Day 5 of our trip to Japan and since the sky was clear, the 2 of us who were awake decided to find a nice vantage point for a view of Shibuya. We eventually found that the 11th floor of the Hikarie building was open and we were able to have a nice view of the city.
Day 4 dawned with rain pouring down but that didn’t stop me and one of my traveling companions who happened to be awake from venturing to Harajuku to see what fashions the young people had on display. We took the Yamanote line from Shibuya to Harajuku (Japan Rail passes have come in quite handy this trip!) and soon after arriving we came across a green mascot shuffling up the street.
After a late night of karaoke that saw us back to our rented apartment late (or, rather, early in the wee hours of the morning), I got up early so that I could visit the Tokyo office of the company I work for. Two of my three companions also work for the same company (it’s how we met years ago) so they joined me on my trek to Tokyo Station and the office.
My teammates based in San Francisco and I have been privileged to work with some truly phenomenal people from the Tokyo office but none of us had ever met them face to face. So, with some small San Francisco-themed gifts from our team in tow, we headed for the Yamanote line (JR Train) to take us from Shibuya Station to Tokyo Station. The office is across the street from the station so it was easy to get to. Here is a shot of the 100-year-old restored station with the office building I visited in the background.
Our day 2 in Japan happened to fall on the United States’ Thanksgiving holiday. One of my companions (my host in Taiwan) had a particular dream about Thanksgiving in Japan and, since it was one of his main requirements for coming with us on this trip, we decided to indulge him and head to his specified establishment for Thanksgiving dinner.
Day 2 was our first full day in Japan and I awoke after the best night’s sleep I have had during the entire trip. Seriously, the futon was really comfortable!
We made our way back to the Shibuya scramble crossing in the dry daylight via the overpass walkways. It’s a nice way to cross some really busy intersections and the bus terminal!
After 11 days in Taiwan, we awoke early to grab a taxi and head for the airport to catch our flights to Japan. Two of us were on ANA (All Nippon Airways / Air Japan), our host from Taiwan was flying on China Air, and our host’s childhood friend had booked on…Vanilla Air. Seriously, that’s a real airline.
The flight attendants on our ANA flight were very helpful and polite. Their English was also very good, which helped us a lot. Surprisingly, ANA served a meal for our ❤ hour flight. When I used to fly to Mexico from Detroit on a longer flight I never got a meal but then I was flying via an American airline so I guess that’s to be expected.