Banksy in Shibuya!

I really miss Japan. Why did I love it so much? Probably because for the past year I’ve been living on a very small island with limited things to do. Japan is also very clean and orderly,  which I like A LOT. I loved getting lost in the maze of streets and finding something magical. One night, Peter and I went for a walk in Shibuya. As we were crossing the street I spotted some street art on the corner of a building. I gasped and whispered, “Banksy.” I took a million photos of the little girl with her hands covering her face. Banksy is a street artist and a great one. I know of his work because he left a few of his graffiti art pieces in Portland, Oregon, which a friend of mine showed me.  Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on his work. Please look him up! I couldn’t believe my eyes! As people were busily passing by this piece of art, I stopped and just stared for a few minutes. I can’t believe I got to see another one! I feel soooo lucky. After this, we kept walking until we saw a bar down in a basement. When we entered we realized that it was a Spanish restaurant/bar! I was so happy! We had tapas and drinks. I had the best Sangria ever and Peter had some beer with a mountain of foam on top.

You can’t stay in Shibuya without walking through the GIANT intersection/crosswalk. I’m sure you’ve seen it in movies. It mirrors the one in New York City. When the walk symbol appears, THOUSANDS of people cross the street in all directions. It’s really magnificent!

I can’t get over how much I enjoyed Tokyo and, as I mentioned in previous blogs, the fashion!

Everything in Japan is cute. The billboards, the people, the clothes, the food…EVERYTHING. There are even things to make cute things cuter…Once Peter and I saw a bunch of school girls run into a basement with pictures of half naked teen boys and lots of girls with big eyes. We saw one couple go down, so out of curiosity we followed. When we took the last step down, ROWS and ROWS of photo booths were cluttered in this basement. And these weren’t just your ordinary photo booths, NO they were awesome photo booths. For about 300 yen you could have your photo taken and edited to look like a cartoon character. I, of course, went overboard and chose the options to make us very bright and white and also to give us GIANT pupils. Yea, it sounds scary but it was SO funny and cute. We did it a few times for fun and laughs. Then, you get to add hearts, rainbows you name it and you get two copies. It was really fun and I suggest that you do this because it will give you a good laugh. After awhile though the cuteness actually made me feel sick haha. I had enough…

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Hello Shibuya!

Sadly, my week long vacation in Japan has come to an end. I never could have imagined JUST how much I would enjoy this trip. As you know, I’ve only been working at my current job for a few months and had to take unpaid leave. I was worried about the cost of this trip and unexpected expenses. I was thinking, “It’s Peter’s birthday so I just need to suck it up and let go,” and I did just that.

Friday, the day of our departure, Peter and I went to work and the minutes were ticking by SO slowly! Finally, 2:00 PM hit and I was out the door and on my way to pick up Peter. As usual, we were running late trying to finish last minute things. Our friend picked us up and dropped us off at the airport where we ran and made it just on time. The flight was smooth and quick. As we descended toward Japan I got butterflies in my stomach. Another stamp in my passport! Curiosity ran through my body as I imagined what it would be like.

 From the airport we found the JR (Japanese Railway) ticket office where we activated our week long train passes. We also bought train tickets to the Shibuya Station. There is this really good deal if you buy a pass, one way or roundtrip, and you are a foreigner you get a Suica card with 1500 yen (about $19.00 USD) per pass to spend anywhere that accepts Suica. The card is loaded with yen and all you do is scan it at checkout. Upon return of the card, you get 500 yen back. Pretty great! We used ours to buy drinks from the vending machines at the train stations.

 The vending machines are super cool! I was wondering why the drinks are so small, until later I realized that people chug their drink and throw it in the garbage bin located next to the vending machine. This also explained why we could never find garbages anywhere other than near the vending machine. People also don’t eat and walk. You could even buy beer from these machines!

We made our way to the NEX and took the train a few hours to Shibuya, Tokyo!

How we got around in the train station beats me. Everything is pretty much in Japanese, with a few signs in English. Luckily Peter brought his tablet and loaded a few maps on it to guide us. We made it to the hotel after crossing a giant intersection and weaving through the crowd of people. By this time my energy level boomed and I couldn’t wait to dump our luggage at the hotel and hit the streets for some adventures!

We stayed at the Tokyu Inn Shibuyu. I wish I had taken a photo of the room because it was SOOO small and the bathroom looked identical to an airplane bathroom plus a tub. The room was meant for two people but there was absolutely no walking space. But that didn’t matter because we really didn’t plan on spending any time in there. We unpacked our things, freshened up and headed out again.

We walked around the streets of Shibuya. Although there were a lot of people out, it was very quiet. I guess that’s one of the main differences I noticed while in Japan. No one talks on their phones while walking, people usually mind their own business and don’t pay attention to others and everything is absolutely clean and orderly. I love it! We searched for some food, but it was pretty late so we were stuck with Family Mart and 7-11! I found this random piece of pizza with corn on it and Peter had an assortment of foods. When we got back we found these funny little robes/pajamas on our bed. Peter and I wore them. We ate and watched the people through our window on the 7th  floor until we fell asleep.

The next morning we walked across the street to this small cafe. We don’t speak Japanese and most people we met in Japan didn’t know any English, so we communicated with hand gestures and pointing to pictures. We ended up pointing to this picture on the menu for breakfast and chose this delicious sandwich and two coffee drinks. Like most things in Tokyo, space in limited so we ordered our food downstairs and ate on the 2nd floor overlooking the streets. I really appreciate the attention to detail and the presentation. From the way food is placed on a tray, to the packaging of store bought items even how you present your money to the cashier at the register. Everyone takes pride in everything that they do.

After breakfast we headed to the train station, where we got lost in the station for about an hour! We FINALLY figured out that we can only us JR lines with the train pass and were in the wrong part of the station. So, we made our way to the correct area, boarded the train and headed to Ginza…