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Sayonara, Tokyo
91 days ago, we stepped out of a plane and directly onto the roof of a skyscraper, where a woman clad in a kimono was bowing to greet us. “Welcome to Tokyo! We’re so glad you’re here!” She beckoned us to the edge of the building, so we could gaze out upon the city’s incomprehensible size. “Look at all that awaits you,” she said. Then without warning, she pushed us off… Read More

Jul 14, 2014


Tokyo at Night
It should come as no surprise to learn that the world’s largest city lights up spectacularly at night. Whether you’re in Shinjuku or Ginza, Tokyo changes completely once the sun goes down… Read More

Jul 14, 2014


Sega Joypolis
It was our last day in Tokyo. Although we weren’t leaving until the early evening, we had finished packing by 10am and had time to kill. Should we go see one last museum? Take a leisurely farewell stroll through our favorite neighborhood? Or… should we scarf down a final fix of ramen and spend our last couple hours in Tokyo playing video games? Sega Joypolis, here we come… Read More

Jul 14, 2014


Why Is Tokyo So Cute?
The Cute is everywhere in Tokyo, and you’re not going to escape it. You shouldn’t even try. This is a city with fluffy animals standing on every corner. Where buses prowl the streets disguised as pandas. Where every corporation and even the police force have their own charming mascot. The Cute cannot be avoided, so you might as well just embrace it… Read More

Jul 13, 2014


Bunkyo Azalea Festival at the Nezu Shrine
From late April to mid May, the garden of the Nezu Shrine bursts into glorious life, as thousands of azalea bushes bloom, dabbing the green hills with a rainbow-colored brush. This garden is over three hundred years old and contains a hundred different species of azalea, all of them a different shade… Read More

Jul 12, 2014


Across and Above Lake Ashinoko
We had enjoyed a deeply restful night of sleep at the Mount View Hakone ryokan hotel in Sengokuhara, and awoke eager to tackle our second day in the mountainous Hakone region southwest of Tokyo. After an early breakfast, we were at the northern shore of Ashinoko, a picturesque crater lake nestled in the shadow of Mount Fuji… Read More

Jul 11, 2014


The Mount View Hakone Ryokan Hotel
The outdoor walks, views of Mount Fuji, crater lake and natural beauty of the Hakone region are all great, but to tell the truth, we were most excited about the hotel which had invited us to stay for the night. The Mount View Hakone is a traditional Japanese ryokan in Sengokuhara, and we planned on taking full advantage of its baths, food, and relaxing atmosphere… Read More

Jul 11, 2014


Escape from Tokyo: A Trip to Hakone
On our last weekend in Japan we abandoned Tokyo and headed for the hills of the Hakone National Park, in the shadow of Mount Fuji. Centered around a large crater lake, this is an area of hot springs, spas, traditional hotels, forests and mountains. A perfect antidote to the Big City Sickness with which we’d slowly but surely become afflicted… Read More

Jul 09, 2014


The Shinyokohama Ramen Museum
It was 1958, and we were hungry. Luckily, we were near Narutabashi Station, where there are at least a dozen ramen shops to choose from. We sat down to big bowls of steaming noodles, and talked about the news of the day… Khrushchev seems a reasonable new leader for the Soviets, doesn’t he? Then my cellphone rang and I remembered: this isn’t 1958. And there is no train station called Narutabashi. The year was 2014 and we were inside The Ramen Museum… Read More

Jul 08, 2014


The Ooedo Onsen Monogatari Spa
The most popular spa in Tokyo is found on Odaiba Island. The Ooedo Onsen Monogatari isn’t cheap, but it offers more than just hot baths. While inside, you can dine at a variety of restaurants, sleep in a capsule hotel, watch TV, or just enjoy the festive atmosphere in a hall designed to evoke Old Edo… Read More

Jul 08, 2014


The Beckoning Cats of Gotoku-ji Temple
The Maneki Neko, or “Beckoning Cat”, is one of Japan’s most iconic images. Thought to bring luck and prosperity to its owner, these cats are frequently found outside businesses and within homes. And in the neighborhood of Setagaya, we found the Gotoku-ji temple, where the Maneki Neko plays a starring role… Read More

Jul 07, 2014


The Rainbow Bridge
Spanning Tokyo Bay to connect Odaiba Island with the mainland, the Rainbow Bridge serves trains, cars and pedestrians along its 800 meter length. We had frequently crossed the bridge with the Yurikamome Monorail, but decided to walk across on one our final days in Tokyo… Read More

Jul 07, 2014


Chilling with the Cool Kids of Shimokita
The good-looking older cousin of Harajuku, Shimokitazawa is leaning against the wall, smoking and watching bemusedly as the crowds swarm around the cute kid dressed in cosplay. He shakes his head, crushes his cigarette butt under the heel of a leather boot, and heads into the record shop. Harajuku might be more popular, but the cool kids prefer Shimokita… Read More

Jul 07, 2014

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