Round two of my visitor blogs will commence now. To be honest what a whirl wind that past month has been for me. I’ll start by saying that hosting and touring around Japan is more exhausting then I had anticipated. Honestly, it’s the truth. This life can appear charmed and most of the time it is, but I never realized how much I’ve actually assimilated to my new life until we started receiving visitors, and how difficult it can be to assist them with understanding my life here in Japan…especially Japanese culture. I myself am no expert and when I did some reflecting I realized that I’ve learned to just make it through the day. Which includes the struggles with the language barrier, food, chaos, confusion, public transit, and just being “gaijin”. All things that can still be challenging for me, but have become less so in the past six months.
Shortly after my grandma and aunt left Japan my high school friend (tomodachi 友達), Bowden, came for a tour de Asia for two weeks. Literally, from start to finish of his trip we went none stop traveling around Japan and even fit in a trip to Seoul (shameless plug). What I came to learn about myself during Bowden’s visit was how much I wanted my friends and family to see and care about Nagoya. I didn’t realize that I would be offended when Kyoto, Tokyo, or somewhere else in Japan took president over Nagoya. Thankfully, Bowden is an excellent friend and understood my feelings and I think in the end was happy to take a few days to check out the city John and I now call a temporary home.
First up on our travels we started in Kyoto, the mecca for everything Japanese culture. One thing I appreciated about Bowden is that he is a man with a plan. He listed out every place in Kyoto that he wanted to go, which made it easy to plan out our day, since we only had one. We managed to hit every place on his list and I managed to reach my goal of adding a new place for every visit to Kyoto. This happened to be the Gion District of Kyoto. Think traditional Japan, full of Geisha’s, old streets, and traditional Japanese tea houses. Definitely a place I’d love to explore more when I have time.
Another new bucket list item I was able to accomplish during my friends visit was a trip to Osaka. Due to all that we had packed into his trip we only managed to squeeze in a day. To be honest Osaka wasn’t all that impressive to me and seemed like Japan’s dirty little secret, as in it’s like the rest of South East Asia, a little bit dirtier, maybe not as a safe, and generally not the Japan I’ve come to know. Not that this is a bad thing in anyway, but maybe a weekend trip needs to be spent there for me to really get the vibe of this city. Any who, I will say that the Okonomiyaki is probably the best I have ever had. There are two main types of Okonomiyaki in Japan, Hiroshima style and Osaka style. We have a trip planned to Hiroshima this month, so I will let everyone know the verdict on which one is best! In case you want to know what Okonomiyaki is here is some information. We also both checked off a bucket list item and tried Kobe beef, must say it was pretty delish!
Last but not least we rounded off the trip with another adventure in Tokyo. Of course we visited the standard spots or Harajuku, Shibuya, and Shinjuku, but also made a visit to geek heaven in Tokyo, Akihabara. Our trip also included a second round at the robot restaurant (which ok anyone else planning to visit us on Japan I highly recommend this as a stop in Tokyo, however I will not be joining. Two times was more then enough for me ;))
The best thing about this night was of course being able to spend it with one of my closest friends and exploring the Tokyo nightlife. We found ourselves at the Golden Gai, the area of Tokyo that is filled with little bars and people from all over the world. Bowden and I walked into one and started up a conversation with two Japanese men and the bartender. Through broken English and broken Japanese we managed to have a great conversation. It turns out one of the men is the CEO of one of the largest Mt. Fuji tourist companies in Japan…say what?!?! Not sure how I find myself in these situations, but the more I travel and the more I see, the more I realize that people are people and good conversation and good alcohol you can make friends with any one! Even a traditional Japanese businessman!
Cheers to your first visit to Asia, Bowden! I hope we made a good impression on you!
Until next time!