Japan Trip 2013

Aspen's Blog


Day 1 - We arrived in Tokyo at 4:00pm
  • Our flight to Tokyo included 25 Japanese school boys in full uniform. It looked like a sequel to Battle Royale or the Japanese version of Lord of the Flies.
  • Dakota was interviewed by a Japanese News Station for being a Japanese visitor. Every time the guy asked "Where are you from?," in English, she said "America" slower and slower until Jackson finally blurted out "Colorado".
  • Walked around Narita Airport where Dakota was fascinated by the fact that they have Swatch Watches in Japan. Oooh fancy. Devin ordered "hot tea" in Stabakusu (Starbucks). Jackson ordered "water (omizu)", guy tried to give Jackson iced tea over and over.
  • Entered the waiting area to watch TV only to find out their March Madness consists of nothing but Sumo Wrestling. Go Purple Thong!
  • Lady gets mad at Jackson for handing her a quarter instead of the 100 yen coin he meant to give her. Calm down, Yuriko, it's only .84 cents. No need to call in airport security to arrest the "burakuman".
  • Dakota bought a drink because the bottle said oishii (delicious) in Japanese only to find out it tasted like green pea juice mixed with grass. She was then wondering if that is considered false advertising in Japan.
  • Aspen explains to the rest of the group why she honestly thought it would have been smart to bring heels to Japan.
  • Aspen sent 22 texts out within her first 1/2 hour in Tokyo not realizing that she had already spent $11 without buying anything.
  • We all realized at the airport, everyone talks like you hit the fast forward button on the DVR. No more complaining about how fast the listening exercises are.
  • Shamrock shakes are cheaper at Japanese McDonalds!
  • Canadian girl pukes in a bag on the bus. Wacky Cannucks. Didn't like the airplane food, eh?
  • These rooms are so small, they make college dorms look like a Penthouse suite.
  • Devin is watching curling because that is the only program he can understand on Japanese television.
  • For dinner, we are having.........rice and what looks like chicken nuggets. Jackson wants a fork but is afraid of the looks he will get so he keeps using those stupid chopsticks.
  • Time to go to bed. It's tough to sleep on an 11 hour flight when they show Skyfall, Here comes the Boom and Wreck it Ralph. Got a good nap during Life of Pi, stupid movie.

Day 2 - Group Day in Tokyo Starting at Shinju Shrine

  • So far, our guide has said:
  1. Leplesentative (representative)
  2. building on the light (right)
  3. on the loof (roof)
  4. empela (emperor)
  5. clown prince (crown prince)
  6. light to boat (right to vote)
  7. lice wine (rice wine)
  8. And she made city hall sound like a "crappy" place to go every time she said it.
  • Aspen is amazed at the cleanliness of the city,"Even their hobos are clean".
  • Dakota and Aspen perform a secret ritual at the Shinto shrine. Devin refuses to follow up when Jackson ignores the two bow- two clap-bow routine in favor of the Harlem Shake (the real one).
  • Our guide's difficulty with English also led Aspen to ask, "Why are we going to the 'worst side' of Tokyo, who wants to see that?" Unfortunately for Aspen, the guide actually said, "We are going to the 'West side' of Tokyo".
  • 1 out of every 3 people in Tokyo wear surgical masks. Our guide said it was for "allergies" but that is ridiculous. It looks like the sequel to Outbreak with the number of masks on the street. We think some people are just polite and trying not to get everyone sick.
  • Devin, Aspen and Dakota tried Black Sesame Tofu ice cream, Sweet potato and red bean currant gelato. On a side note, Jackson spent all of his money for the day trying to buy gross stuff for everyone to eat.
  • Aspen came all the way out to Japan and her first purchase was a Los Angeles sweat shirt.
  • Dakota, "You can get almost anything in America, it's open trading!" Uhhh, I think she meant "Free market".
  • Devin and Jackson were hustled by a Buddhist monk for about 800 yen between them and the guy never said a word except "Peace".
  • The drinks at McDonald's in Japan are the same size you would find in a Happy Meal in America. No wonder everyone is little.
  • Winner of Day 1 "Take a picture with a random Japanese person" is ........ Jackson. Devin is a close second. Aspen and Dakota asked people who speak English, cheaters.

Day 3 - Akihabara & Shibuya

  • Started off the day by going to the park to see the biggest event in Tokyo, the Cherry Blossom Festival.
  • I know what you are thinking, "How boring, making a big deal out of blooming flowers?" Well if you think that.........you are absolutely right. These pictures were taking pictures like Justin Bieber and Lil Wayne were hanging rom the trees handing out $100 bills and autographs.
  • A pair of the Canadian girls got lost for a while. Apparently, they got caught up taking pictures of the Cherry Blossoms and didn't realize that the group had left. Luckily, we have flowers in the US and none of our kids were caught up in the excitement.
  • While in the park, we found a nice stand for souvenirs. Jackson-sensei took the opportunity to buy a couple of lovely items for his family. Unfortunately the stand was owned by a 132 year old lady who was sooooooooooooo slow. What would have taken 14 seconds in the US took 4 minutes as she polished and double bagged each item. During that time, our guide decided to try out for the Japanese speed-walking team and left the four Spartans at the stand. Aspen and Dakota rushed to the rescue. They offered to run and track down the group so that we weren't stranded at a park in Tokyo. Apparently, seeing a white and black girl sprinting through parks in Japan is not very common in Japan and a police officer thought that there was something wrong and started running after them. He gave up pursuit when he saw Devin and Jackson-sensei sprint past him and realized it probably had something to do with impatient Americans.
  • We then visited Adobashi (Department store) which had to be the biggest thing anyone has ever seen. It was like taking 8 Targets and putting them on top of each other with an escalator between each store. The first floor had 10 full rows of iPhone 5 cases alone.
  • Their "food court" took up the 9th floor and was actually just 10-12 sit down restaurants. You had to order and pay from a vending machine like system with pictures.
  • Aspen showed how rusty her memory of Japanese food is from freshman year. She picked the white picture that looked like rice but instead ended up ordering mochi ice cream since they looked the same and she didn't read the ごはん on the other pictures.
  • At our next stop, we went to a store that was basically a 7-story shrine to the Japanese group AKB48. I think they are called that because there are that many girls in the group. The top floor is a museum of these girls and there was a line. There was a plaque dedicated to people who had paid for and visited the museum at least 100 times. Right next to that plaque was another plaque dedicated to people who had ALSO paid for and visited the museum at least 100 times. Apparently, there are an abundance of stalkers and losers in Japan as well.
  • We then rallied across from the Adult Amusement park to meet up with the group where our tour guide told us to meet. Let's just say, there were no roller coasters or ferris wheels at this "amusement park" and she probably could have picked a better point of reference.
  • Ended the evening in Tokyo called the 100円 store. Not sure why we thought we would be blown away since that is basically just the Family Dollar in the US. I guess Japanese people need sponges and discount underwear too.

Day 4 - Kamakura - Hakone

  • Today, we travelled to Kamakura by bus.
  • We started at the Turugaika hachimangu shrine. The shrine was very cool. There were about 500 steps that led up to the shrine and Jackson-sensei reenacted the stair run scene from Rocky while dodging the hundreds of worshippers making their way to the location.
  • At the shrine, Aspen and Dakota thought it would be a great time to feed the many pigeons that were on the outskirts of the shrine. Unfortunately, their act of animal kindness let them to miss the group departure time for lunch as they were left at the shrine temporarily. But hey, at least the pigeons got a full meal.
  • We also checked out the Great Buddah, an enormous statue at a different shrine. And even cooler, it was only 20 yen to go in and walk through the Great Buddah! The excitement was short lived when everyone realized that nothing cool is really going to happen with something that costs the equivalent of 20 cents in America.
  • We then checked into an incredible hotel in Hakone complete with hot spring sauna, traditional 10-course Japanese dinner and rooms that make you feel like a Samurai warrior returning from battle.
  • Tomorrow, we will visit the national park by cable car and then take a bullet train to Kyoto.

Oyasumi nasai (good night)