What’s it Like to Travel in Japan (Part 1)

Japan is a fascinating country full of contradictions. It has a rich history with ancient traditions, yet at times, it feels like you’re stepping into the future or in an anime series. Our two-week family trip this summer was fun, weird, full of discoveries, surprises, and most certainly unlike any other destinations.

Expect to find a little bit of everything in Tokyo

Like many travellers, our trip started in Tokyo, the city of crowds, loud noises and giant flashing billboards. But Tokyo is much more than that. It offers an interesting contrast of the modern and the old…with a side of crazy!

You can drive a go cart on the streets…while playing dress up, of course!
A morning ceremony at the Meiji-jingu in Tokyo.

Tokyo is full of historical landmarks. Sensoji Temple is one of my favourite. Located in Asakusa, the oldest temple in Tokyo is popular for a reason! We were lucky enough to witness a parade of people carrying 100 shrines at the Sanja Matsuri (Sanja festival). Seeing this many people in one place was nuts!

Every year, around 100 portable shrines are paraded on the streets to bring good fortune to local businesses and people

I loved the Harajuku area, the center of Tokyo’s pop-culture and street fashion. Takeshita street is the best place to see Japanese teenagers showing off their cool and wacky fashion style. This was also where we saw a lot of cosplay as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Baby Peanut’s favourite however, was the gelato shop at the end of the Takeshita street.

Shopping in Akihabara was interesting. Best known for electronics, anime and manga, you could seriously spend hours shopping away. Or in my case, trying to build a Doraemon capsule toy collection.

Experiencing the Kawaii Culture and Maid Café

The Japanese love anything cute and mini, which means baby Peanut had a lot of admirers everywhere we went. I seriously thought Kawaii (cute) would be in Peanut’s vocabulary by the end of the trip. After all, she only heard it from strangers about 10 times a day.

Fully embracing the kawaii culture

There are a ton of themed cafés to experience Japan’s culture of cuteness first hand. We opted for a Maid Café in Akihabara.

It was cool and weird at the same time, as if I had stepped into a real life anime. The servers were dressed like French maids with braided hair and spoke with a high pitched kitty voice. It felt a little awkward in the beginning to have SO much girly cuteness in your face. But hey, where else in the world can you say “meow meow” to call your waitress over? And if that doesn’t interest you, maybe baby hedgehogs are your thing. Well, they have a café for that!

Expect the food to be AMAZING…and weird

Eating was one of the greatest pleasures of visiting Japan. I still dream about some of the meals I had. Whether it was a hot bowl of ramen (ordered from a vending machine), beautifully crafted kaiseiki dinner, or super fresh sushi that still moved on my chopsticks, food in Japan definitely brought out my inner fat kid.

Of course, there are plenty of interesting foods and flavours, so be adventurous and try that wasabi flavoured kitkat bar!

Ordering a classic Tonkotsu Ramen from a vending machine
Kaiten sushi – where the food comes to you on a belt
Pig intestines anyone?

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for Part 2!

XO

Mary

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[…] trip, I realized it was impossible to fit everything into one blog post. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, check it out for some wacky and weird Tokyo […]