Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tokyo Day Two: Skytree, Imperial Palace, Tokyo Station

Our Day 1 in Tokyo actually ended with us in a metro station remembering that we didn't have anywhere to sleep that night. So we pulled out our trusty iphones, got on priceline, and booked us a hotel. Then hopped on the metro, got as close as we could to the area our hotel was in, and started walking. Luckily we stumbled upon our hotel pretty quickly and it was a beautiful place right in the heart of Tokyo. 

Of course, we booked the cheapest room which came with two full beds. However, "full" beds in Japan are actually twin beds that are much shorter than my husbands body. So yeah. But we made it work. And yes, we slept in one bed. 
The next morning we head back to the Skytree so we could go up to the top and see a panoramic daytime view of Tokyo. Seeing Tokyo from that high up gave us a much better perspective of how huge the city truly is. Plus, we had a killer view of Mt. Fuji.

From there we headed to the Imperial Palace to walk around the gardens and see where the Imperial family resides. The gardens we beautiful, and I think would be even more beautiful during sakura (cherry blossom) season. But these gardens, again, were such a peaceful, serene haven in the midst of such a crazy, busy city. It was a welcome break from noise and traffic. 

Our friends who were in Tokyo the weekend before us sent us a message saying they had left us a note somewhere near imperial palace and gave us rough directions on where we could find it. It was like a geocache of sorts, and fun to go on a little treasure hunt. And we found it!

We stopped by to see Tokyo Station, which is like Tokyo's version of Grand Central Station. The architecture of the building is beautiful, and Brian and I were just so intrigued by how all the Metro/Subway/Railways all work together. 


Just one more day to recap! Such a fun trip. 
Love you people.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tokyo Day One: Shibuya, Harajuku, Asakusa

Our Tokyo trip was amazing. The sights were incredible, the Japanese people so polite, and the food was to die for. But honestly our favorite part of the trip? Catching up at the end of each day over a glass of wine at the hotel. Just being together. Just the two of us. Simultaneously dreaming about the future, while talking about how we can be more effective right where the Lord has us. With no distractions or things that needed to get done. 

Since moving to Okinawa, we have been in a much different season of life than we have ever experienced. Work has been busy and overwhelming, and time together has been little. Being that we are both lovers of quality time, we CRAVE time away to reconnect and talk and laugh and make memories. This long weekend was just that.  

My sweet husband is by FAR the easiest and most fun person to travel with. He is so go-with-the-flow and patient and kind and carries my bag for me when I complain about my feet and my back hurting. It was nice to not really have much of an agenda, but just travel through Tokyo organically, stopping when we wanted to, and continue to move through when we wanted to. I felt like we did a good job of seeing a lot, but also making it a vacation. We wanted it to be adventurous, yet restful.

Japanese airport food beats American airport food, no competition.

mmmm. Pancakes, coffee, donuts. Breakfast food, sugar, and carbs speak to us. 

Guys! Don't worry about the smeary window, or my iphone reflection. This is Shibuya Crosing: the time square of Tokyo. The busiest intersection I've ever seen. At the peak times of the day over 1000 people cross here every time the light turns green. That's craziness. 

After Shibuya, we took off walking and made our way to Yoyogi Park. We were totally amazed by how peaceful and serene this park in the smackdab middle of Tokyo was, despite how crazy busy the world right outside the gates of the park were. It was a sweet little sanctuary in the middle of chaos.

SNOW! Snow is a big deal considering we will see very little of it over the next three years. I am a lover of cold weather clothes- boots, scarves, sweaters, jackets, everything- so I was loving this cold weather. 

We stopped at Meiji Shrine which was set back in a dense wooded area with beautiful trees and several wooden torii (Japanese gates) leading up to the shrine temple. Brian and I watched the Japanese people for a long while as they came up to the shrine to make an offering by tossing a 5 yen coin in the large box in front of the shrine, bow their heads, clap twice, and bow again. 

We got to witness a beautiful wedding processional while at Meiji. I love that in the heart of one of the worlds largest and most modern cities, the tradition of the Japanese people is not lost. The bride and groom dressed in tradition Japanese dress and their guests all wrapped in silk kimonos. 

As we walked through the streets of Harajuku, the crepes were calling Brian's name. Crepes are street food of the district of Harajuku, and man did they deliver. Homemade warm crepe filled with whipped cream, bananas, and chocolate fudge. Delicious.

We ended our night in Asakusa, at the base of the tallest free standing tower in the world- the Tokyo Sky Tree. The construction was just finished in March of 2012 and it is breathtaking. The civil engineer  degree side of my husband came out as we spent the rest of the night googling and youtubing videos of the construction of the Sky Tree. It is pretty amazing. 

Day one, done! And I have so many more pictures to share.

Monday, January 7, 2013

christmas at the cape.

We had a few hours to spare in between lunch and dinner on Christmas day, so we did the usual. Went for a drive. Our favorite past time on this island. Driving around, looking for new beaches, restaurants, or scenic spots. I had been wanting to go out to Cape Zanpa for a while now, to see the pretty white lighthouse contrasted against the dark rock cliffs and blue, blue water. 

Christmas day was super windy and the water was slamming up against the rocks. I would not get less than 10 feet from the edge, because the wind was so strong I just KNEW it was going to throw us over.
 Worst case scenario kind of girl? Maybe. But also, realistic. 

Such a neat place to go exploring. 
Except those rocks were really jaggedy, and I was wearing ballet flats. Fail. 

My hair? The bangs of the future? I don't even know. It was windy. 

This was the point where I was SCREAMING to Brian to GET BACK because I thought he was going to die, only to realize there was a good 10 feet of distance between him and the edge of the cliff. It was REALLY windy, ok?

This beautiful, beautiful island.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

christmas morning breakfast.

We were so thankful to be able to open up our home and share Christmas breakfast with 12 other single Marine officers. Brian and I both grew up eating big breakfasts prior to opening gifts with our families on Christmas morning. We knew we wanted to make a huge breakfast to carry on tradition, so who better to help us eat it than hungry Marines? We were far from our families for the holidays and so were they. We love taking the opportunity to get the Marine's out of the barracks every once in a while. To serve them a home cooked meal, give them a comfy couch to sit on, and some good conversation around the dinner table.

It wasn't anything fancy, but it was fun and none of us spent Christmas morning alone. For us, it was so nice to have a full, loud house instead of the quietness that would remind us how far from home and family that we were. 

On the Menu:

 blueberry muffins
egg, bagel, sausage casserole
hashbrown casserole
monkey bread
fruit salad
loads of bacon
tons of coffee
orange juice

Simple, and delicious.