We've arrived in Japan! Navigating the airport was overwhelming because we had to pick up our wifi device, and also exchange our Japan Rail Pass for actual tickets before we could take the train. With a little back and forth, we found both. Then, we had to navigate the trains. The trains here are a bit different than other cities that I'm familiar with.
We arrived on Monday evening, so instead of rushing to Tokyo from the airport, we stayed the night in Narita at a hotel in the little downtown area. We walked around and found a yakitori (grilled skewers of meat) place for dinner, and also had some takoyaki (fried octopus)! That, paired with some much needed beers after a 12 hour flight, was perfect. Afterward, we walked around Narita admiring all of the lovely shop-fronts.
This morning (Tuesday) we took the Narita Express train to Tokyo. It was the nicest and most luxurious train I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The doors inside the train cars were glass and automatically opened - super futuristic. The seats were assigned and were more plush than our airplane seats. There were areas for luggage, and the windows were huge so that you could watch the scenery change from forests and hills to city.
Once in Tokyo, we met with our AirBnB host who gave us the keys to his apartment in Shibuya. We've got a Lawson's (convenience store) right across the street which is great for and snacks that we might need. We're also close to two different train stations, making navigating a little easier on us. We're also surrounded by the most amazing shops. Each one is cuter than the rest. Narita was only a little taste of what Tokyo has to offer when it comes to amazing design and style.
This is a famous bridge that is usually seen lush with cherry blossoms. Being that it's fall, we've come to see them nearly empty. Most of the trees here still have their leaves, but cherry blossoms must be more sensitive and lose theirs first. I have heard that the maple leaves are just beginning to change, and those are my absolute favorite.
I thought Chicago had a lot of green spaces, but Tokyo surprised me with all of it's parks, shrines, trees, and plants. I love the contrast between the bright lights of Shibuya Crossing and the Shibuya Shrine just around the corner.
Found this little statue next to a staircase that leads you from one street level to another street level. Like Chicago, Tokyo has different levels intersecting with each other. While walking along the shops, you might come upon some stairs that take you up (or down) to another street level full of more shops. It's disorienting but it completely adds to the charm, making everything more mysterious when you discover it.
I'm in love with the different kinds of candies. On the plane here, the woman sitting next to me was snacking on this pre-packaged cake and it smelled so good! I got a glimpse at the label and I hope to be able to find it for myself.
Shibuya Scramble Crossing. There is so much noise at this intersection. Not just from people, but from video screens on buildings, music playing from loud speakers, and each one attempting to talk over the next. It is unlike any place I've ever been. It puts Time Square to shame, and definitely feels like it's own sort of theme park.
That's all for now! We're headed out shortly for some dinner and drinks in Ebisu. I hope to be able to post again in a few days! Having the wifi device with us is the most incredible thing. It makes it so easy to get around, to stay in touch, and to post whenever I find time. However, I don't want to guarantee that I will post, just in case I find myself too busy exploring.