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Japan Trip – Week 1

A golden Torii gate stands amongst the towering trees and temples in Tokyo, Japan

Do you ever go somewhere or do something or have an experience that you feel like totally changes you? Like, maybe you don’t even know what it is, but something about you is not the same as before? Japan felt like that for me!

Maybe it’s because this was one of the first times that I’ve left the country. My husband, Tyler, and I went to Iceland back in 2018 (another totally awesome experience!), but that one felt a little different…

This was the first time that I’ve been in charge of a trip. I spent 2 years reading travel book after travel book, learning Japanese, researching all the areas, sights, and attractions, and I built our (almost) 3 week itinerary myself. It felt like a lot! But it also felt AWESOME.

When the time finally came to board our (very early) flight and travel to the other side of the globe, I started to get really nervous. What if this trip wasn’t as great as I thought it would be? What if I spent the last 2 years reading and researching and (maybe kind of) obsessing about this place and it turned out to be disappointing?

Man, am I so happy to say that I was totally wrong!! Our trip to Japan far exceeded any expectations I had and I’m so excited to share with you about our experience in the land of the rising sun.

Week 1: Tokyo, Hakone

We Landed in Tokyo and stayed in Shinjuku. We traveled to Ueno, Akihabara, Chiyoda and Shibuya.

One of our favorite parts about Tokyo were the trains! It was so quick, easy, and affordable to travel everywhere. The extreme traveler in me rejoiced because that meant we could pack so much into our trip (Aka 20,000+ steps a day for the whole crew)! The amount of lush gardens, amazing temples, and gorgeous nature that was right up against imposing high rises and a bustling city was just so cool to see, and I’m so glad we were able to see so much of the city.

The street food was amazing! The 10 yen cheese coin still lives rent free in my head.

Speaking of food, Tokyo is where we tried Okonomiyaki for the first time ever! A savory pancake dish, our Okonomiyaki consisted of broth, cabbage, seafood, bacon, a runny egg, oyster sauce and yuzu mayo and it was amazing! I’m definitely going to head to my local international grocery store and try and make this dish at home.

I planned this trip so that we could see the cherry blossoms in full bloom (a photographer’s DREAM). Unfortunately, some unseasonably cold weather meant that we didn’t really see a lot of blooms until the end of our trip. We did run into quite a few weeping cherry trees in bloom in Tokyo and stopped to take a picture with every one of them! I’m SO happy we were able to catch the Sakura trees in full bloom later in our trip, but that’s for another post!

Hakone was our next stop! We only stayed there briefly (less than 2 days) and I’m still kicking myself that we didn’t budget more time! I loved Hakone! I feel like there was so much there that we didn’t get to see and explore. We spent most of our time there eating and hiking up Mt. Kintoki (also called Mt. Ashigara). There was even a tea shop at the top! This mountain is tied to a Japanese folkloric tale about Kintaro, the axe-wielding “Golden Boy” who befriends and does sumo with forest animals.

Look at the view of Mt. Fuji!!

We had so much fun our first week! Temples, shrines, nature, shopping, soba, pancakes – it can’t get any better than this, right? Surprise, surprise…. it did!
Check out week 2! (Coming Soon)

Thanks for reading!

-Katie

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