I am thankful to have this blog to sit down and map out our time (and to give me an excuse to sit down for a few seconds 😉 ).
WHAT A WEEK!
This year our Easter was celebrated a little differently than normal; we were on a plane headed for Tokyo! We landed Sunday afternoon and after enjoying a ‘chicken hot dog’ at the airport, while we waited for our train, we got to drop off our bags and figure out the Subway system. I felt like the ultimate tourist in a foreign country, not being able to read signs…but we figured it out and even managed to purchase Subway cards so we could just scan our cards each time we used the subway, instead of having to fish out yen every single time to buy a ticket. (You can click on the photos to view the captions)
After we dropped off our bags, we got to do a little exploring around our hotel. We went to an area called Roppongi Hills and wandered around for a bit, ate dinner, then headed over to Tokyo Tower to view the city from up above. There are so many different ‘sky views’ in Tokyo it was hard to decide which one we should do. Tokyo Tower was fairly close to our hotel, so it won out.
The huge spider is a famous statue in Roppongi called Maman. It was built by a French artist named Louise Bourgeois. We also got to walk through a beautiful shrine/cemetery near our hotel.
In Tokyo there are not big monuments like Okinawa. The graves are more like what you would see in America. Although, they have sticks everywhere that I finally had to ask a local about because I was intrigued. If I’m understanding correctly, the sticks are called ‘Sotoba’ and are purchased by the families in order to write the names of their loves ones, that they would like for them to have in the afterlife. You can pay more, to purchase more characters for the Sotoba in order to attain a higher ‘ranking’, for lack of better word.
We were lucky enough to catch the very tail end of Cherry Blossom season in Tokyo. Okinawa has an early season compared to Tokyo, and the cherry blossoms in Okinawa are much different in color, shape, and size than Tokyo’s cherry blossoms. It was neat to be able to compare the two.
We ended every evening in our hotel pool (of course)…I think that was the kids’ favorite part. It was nice, because they could swim and mom and dad could relax our feet in the hot tub.
The next day we woke up and just ate at the hotel then headed over to the area of Tokyo known as Harajuku. We had reservations at an Owl Cafe, so we spent some time seeing what Takishita street had to offer and wandering in and out of the shops in Harajuku. Sunday is really the best day to visit Harajuku street because that’s when the Harajuku girls are out, but we didn’t want to push it Sunday after arriving in the late afternoon. Needless to say, as you can see from the pictures below there was some WEIRD stuff…but it was super neat.
We had a few minutes to kill before we had our reservation, so we wandered around a little more and found a beautiful park in the middle of the city. It was so quaint, but kind of ironic that you could hear tons of traffic and construction going on outside of the park. I got some great shots with the cherry blossoms though.
We finally headed over to the owl cafe where we got to hang out and pet/feed some owls for about an hour. We all had a blast.
After we were done with the owls we headed over to Meiji Shrine. Again, it was a beautiful park area in the middle of the city (kind of like Central park, but much more somber obviously and not as big). The big gates leading into the shrines are called Torii Gates, and symbolize that you are entering into a sacred place. We also had to cleanse our hands and mouths before entering the shrine, using dippers in at the entrance.
Meiji Shrine is believed to house the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. When you first walk in there are boxes that you shake and then pull a numbered stick out of. You can pay 100 yen (a little less than a $) to tell the workers, which number you pulled and they will give you an Omikuji or ‘fortune telling story’. The Omikuji were written by the deceased Emperor and Empress; he wrote about 10,000 in his lifetime and she wrote about 30,000 in hers. They are written in a poetry form called ‘waka’ and are supposed to have significant meaning in your life; the gist of mine was ‘take a chill pill’…haha…which we both got a kick out of because I was so flustered by the subway system the first day we were there.
We also bought an Ema votive on which you are supposed to write your prayers and/or things you are thankful for. The priests convey them to the souls of the Emperor and Empress every morning during the morning ritual called ‘ Mikesai’.
We were also lucky enough to catch the tail end of a marriage ceremony! It was so neat to see the bride, groom, and their families dressed in traditional Kimonos to celebrate their marriage.
Last, but not least we took the kids to the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world ‘Shibuya crossing’. We ordered a Starbucks coffee in Shibuya square and watched the pedestrians cross. We were eating lunch prior to Shibuya square and the kids were inquiring as to where we were headed next…Garrett and I couldn’t help but laugh when his response was “to a street…to watch people cross it…” HAHA! It was definitely a sight to see though. “When in Rome.” Am I right?!
Shew! We’re only a day and a half into the trip and I’m already exhausted just writing about it. Truthfully I need to feed my family. So ‘dewa matta’ for now, and I’m hoping to find time this weekend to write about the remainder of out trip!
❤ The Butlers