After visiting Hong Kong for a week, my family and I flew over to Japan. We met up with my uncles and my cousin at Haneda airport in Tokyo. Instead of taking public transportation, my family decided to rent a van for the eight of us to road trip around Japan.
Of course, our first location was Tokyo, and we explored the city for a few days before moving on. Our first stop was Tokyo Station, basically a train station, a hotel, and a bunch of restaurants all in one place. From the outside, Tokyo Station is just another long brick building. Inside it’s a wide open space with branching paths to the subway, and on the second floor you can look down at the commuters down below, or enter the hotel (which is what Woody wanted to do).
After Tokyo Station, my family and I visited our first temple in Japan! Asakusa is a popular tourist area in Tokyo, home to Sensoji Temple. At the entrance is Kaminarimon, or “Thunder Gate” in Japanese, a large gate with two guardian deities on both sides. On the inside, the pathway up to the temple is lined with little vendors and shops that sell a variety of sweet desserts and more! One popular treat is soft cream, which is basically soft serve ice cream.
Nearby is the Sumida River, where you can sit and relax and enjoy clear blue skies and nice weather. Across the river, you can see the Asahi headquarters marked by the “golden turd” that sits on top of the building.
From Asakusa, we took the train across the river to Tokyo Skytree in Sumida. Tokyo Skytree is the tallest tower in the world at 2,080 feet. In order to get to the top, you have to take one of four elevators– each of which is designed and decorated to look like one of the four seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter). The top observation deck has three floors with a cafe, souvenir shop and more. When we went, it was packed with elementary and middle school students on a school field trip– but that’s okay because the view was nice!
Tsukiji Market is a large market in Tokyo that sells a variety of food items like fish, packaged snacks, and vegetables. There are also a lot of vendors nearby that sell delicious street food like sweet egg omelettes on a stick. Of course, since we visited a fish market, we had to eat sushi. So we went to a specialized sushi restaurant nearby; the restaurant only offered four courses that all come with miso soup, salad, and steamed egg.
We headed to Mitaka for one reason: to visit the Ghibli Museum! I love Studio Ghibli movies, so I was super excited to see the museum. The inside was amazing, the museum itself is just as magical as any of Miyazaki’s movies.
Cup Noodle Museum
The Cup Noodle Museum includes a large exhibit and workshops to make your own cup noodles and chicken ramen. For the cup of noodles, my family and I each made our own. First, we had to buy the cup from a vending machine. Then, we decorated our cups with markers; I drew cute characters like Ponyo on mine!
The chicken ramen workshop is inside a special kitchen. Employees passed out cute chicken bandanas and aprons while we decorated our chicken ramen packages. After that, we made chicken ramen from scratch and watched the employees fry them until they were hard and ready to package!
One exhibit room was full of all the types of instant noodles—it was stacked all the way to the ceiling! Woody was very impressed.
This mall wasn’t special in particular, but it was nice to relax and eat good food!
Our main destination in Kamakura was Komachi-dori, a long street lined with restaurants, shops, and more! There we ate the local specialty raw shirasu, also known as Japanese Anchovy Whitebait. Woody also discovered an official Studio Ghibli store!
Stay tuned for more adventures in Japan with Woody!