Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Shibuya

Family Day

On Monday, 10/15, I had the wonderful opportunity to greet my Uncle and Aunts and their friend during the Yokohama port visit of their cruise. Their ship docked at Osanbashi Pier in Yokohama. I took an early train up to meet them. Even on a cloudy day, it wasn’t hard to spot the ship!

After joining up, we set out for a one-day Julia Tour of Tokyo. Here is a picture of me with my Aunt Merrily, Aunt Eileen, and Uncle Jay. Throughout the day, we attempted to recall the last time we saw each other. It’s been at least 20 years since I saw my Aunt Merrily and probably closer to 30 since I saw my Uncle Jay and Aunt Eileen. Regardless of the time, it didn’t take long to quickly fall into step and reminisce of days past.

The cute blue elephants at the Yokohama pier were too cute to pass up a picture opportunity. Pictured here are my Aunts and Uncle and their friend, Nan, who was cruising with them.

Our first stop in Tokyo was the Tokyo Metropolitan Building. It provides a great birds eye view of Tokyo. The best part, it’s free! I joked that by taking them to the top of the building, I could show them ALL of Tokyo!

On one of our numerous train rides, Aunt Merrily asked me to take a picture of the Tokyo Subway map. It looks like a big bowl of colorful ramen.

After our trip to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building, we took a break for lunch. A delicious bowl of ramen filled our bellies and fueled us for the rest of the afternoon. I know I’ve mentioned how much I love Japanese eggs. The ones in ramen are smoked. Oishi desu!

After lunch, we headed to Harajuku. We walked and shopped our way down Takeshita Street. It’s one of my favorites in Tokyo. As long as it’s not too crowded!!

During our shopping, we stopped for a break. We thought we were just getting flavored tea. To our surprise, it had little balls of tapioca at the bottom. Needless to say, the first sip was quite a surprise. We all had different strategies for enjoying the drink. It provided a humorous highlight to our tour. Sometimes you just don’t know. Now that I do, I might not stop there again.

After a little more shopping, we took the train one stop to Shibuya. First stop in Shibuya is always at the Hachiko Statue. Hachiko is remembered for his loyalty. He walked everyday with his person to Shibuya Station. One day his person never came back. He had died of a heart attack. Hachiko lived the rest of his life at Shibuya Station waiting for his person to return.

No trip to Tokyo is complete without walking through Shibuya Crossing several times.

We stopped for an afternoon coffee at Starbucks for a chance to watch the scramble. We were lucky to see an almost poo brown bus pass through.

By this point, it was time to return my family to the cruise ship. One last train ride!

It wasn’t without a little bit of humor at the end. Nan’s train card didn’t have sufficient funds to exit. Unfortunately, I had already exited. She had to request the assistance of the station master. We were laughing so hard when he popped out of the wall!!

It was a a great day filled with laughs and adventure. It was great to share one of my favorite cities with my family. Simultaneously, it was really fun to reconnect and reminisce. Hearing stories of their travels and retelling stories about my grandparents warmed my heart. It was such a grand and special day. I couldn’t have asked for more – well, maybe a little bit more time together!

Time Out Tokyo

Jet lag worked in our favor for our Sunday plans. We planned to get out of the house early Sunday morning and begin our day at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. I wanted to share the beautiful Sakura in the National Garden with both Dave and the Thompsons. I also knew the garden would become very busy. We arrived about a half hour after it opened and there were already many people prepped for Hanami.

We enjoyed walking through the garden. Yet again, we were lucky with more beautiful weather.

As we walked, we enjoyed the opportunity to view so many Sakura still in bloom.

After leaving the gardens, we stopped for lunch and then caught the train to Harajuku. As many times as we have been to Harajuku, I have never it seen it so crowded. This was the train ride to Harajuku.

The girls made a brief stop to purchase cat ears. Because, Japan.

At one point, about half way down Takeshita Street, the crowd came to a complete standstill. We ended up having to push our way out and slip down a side street.

The crowd left us weary and in need of a break from the crowd. We decided to walk to Shibuya instead of riding another crowded train. It was actually an enjoyable and somewhat entertaining walk.

After the crowd at Harajuku, Shibuya didn’t seem too crazy!

From Shibuya Crossing, we took the train to Gumyoji. I wanted Jennifer (and everyone else) to experience Yozakura. It was yet again, a beautiful evening.

These two! Candy covered strawberries dipped in sugar.

We caught one last train home. It was a long day for the first day of a Julia tour. For the record, I think the kids won this round.

Tokyo Tourists

Dave received an invitation to the Kanto Plain Seabee Ball. The ball was held on March 10, 2018 at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. We decided to enjoy the weekend in Tokyo. Unfortunately, the New Sanno was full for the weekend. Instead, I booked us a room at the New Prince Hotel in Shinagawa. We arrived Friday afternoon and checked into our hotel. The room was on the club level. Being in the club level granted us permission to use the Club Lounge. Besides the amazing view, the Club Lounge provided breakfast, snacks, and alcohol beverages after 5:00 pm. We were happy we decided to make a stop for happy hour on Friday. Because who doesn’t love free snacks and beer with a great city view!

We spent the rest of the evening exploring the area around Shinagawa Station. You just never know what or who you will see in Japan!

The place where we stopped for dinner had a true local flare. Like tiny sardines in my grilled rice ball and the homemade Japanese pickles served with our beer.

When I attempted to order a second beer, some how I managed to order two – of different sizes. Clearly, there was a bit lost in translation. Fortunately, Dave helped me drink the extra beer. Team D for the win!

Saturday before the ball, we took the train to Shibuya to walk around and shop. It’s always fun to be tourists in Shibuya Crossing.

This cute puppy was outside a coffee shop. He was there with his owner for several hours. We passed him on both Saturday and Sunday morning. Kawaii!

The Seabee Ball on Saturday night was a blast. I had the chance to wear my favorite gown and Dave looked extremely dapper in his mess dress. I love fancy date night.

No ball in Japan is complete without a sake barrel to open.

And traditional music performance.

http://wabisabisole.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/img_3902.mov

We took a group picture of all those who represented SRF. Not too bad of a turn out and everyone looked amazing.

The rest of the evening included dinner, speeches, and dancing. Lots of dancing and so much fun! Kanpie!

Tokyo Take Two

Thursday morning we woke up to a wintery mix. We took our time getting organized hoping the weather would break. The weather was still messy by the time we finished breakfast and checked out of our room. Oh, well. That’s one of my rules. “Don’t let the weather stop you.” Instead, we stopped at the closest Family Mart and invested in lightweight umbrellas. Perhaps, the best purchase of the day!

On our agenda today was exploring Asakusa. Asakusa is located on the NE side of Tokyo. We were in the SW corner. It took us about 40 minutes on the train to transit over.

Our first stop was to visit the Sensō-ji Temple. Sensō-ji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. It is very significant and attracts 30 million visitors every year. Cindy and I accounted for two of those visitors today.

The Temple is huge. I was especially excited because I haven’t been to this temple in over a year. Last time Dave and I visited was during Tokyo marathon weekend. At that time, the pagoda was undergoing renovations. I was able to see the pagoda for the first time today!

The snow, the pagoda, and the temple made for a magical experience. Check out all the people!

http://wabisabisole.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/img_2827.mov

I’m so glad we made the trip over to see the Temple. It truly is a magnificent structure and the gardens are amazing even in the rain/ snow.

Cindy was able to have another stamp added to her book at the Senso-ji Temple and also at the Asakusa Shrine.

Since we were in the area, I wanted to take Cindy to see another of my favorite Shrines. The Imoda Shrine or Lucky Cat Shrine. It’s so cute and the coupled cats are said to bring good luck and love to marriages. Who doesn’t need a little extra of either?

My favorite thing to discover at certain Shrines is the “May Peace Prevail On Earth” signs. The sign coupled with the serenity of the Shrine and the beauty of gardens truly makes my heart happy. I can’t help but believe that every one of the wishes tied on the prayer wall are wishes of peace, goodness, and well being.

By this point in the day, we were starting to get chilly and wet from the winter mix. We worked our way back to the shopping area around Asakusa. We shopped for a few items and then worked our way to Shibuya. We had one shopping spot to visit before heading home. My favorite. Tokyu Hands.

The only thing holding us back while shopping was the reminder we still had to get back home with all of our purchases!

Today, without intention, I treated Cindy to a true wabi-sabi experience. The weather was definitely imperfect, but the opportunity to see the Temple and pagoda in a little bit of snow was pretty fun. Of the 30 million visitors, how many had a chance to experience it in snow? She was such a trooper. I teased her at one point and said I was glad she was my sister in law from Chicago – otherwise, we might not have left the hotel! To her, this was a messy winter day at home!

We worked our way home and enjoyed a cold beer and Garrett’s popcorn as an appetizer to the white bean chicken chili Dave made this morning in the crockpot. Ahhhh. After two days in Tokyo, there’s no place like home!

Tokyo Take One

After a much need night of sleep after making the long trip to Japan, Cindy and I were out the door early. We caught the 9:03am train to Tokyo Wednesday morning. Our first mission was to walk the Meguro Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage. Before we left, I starred the 6 temples and shrines in Google Maps.

The entire walk took us about 2.5 hours. We had a couple of detours at the Daiso and Family Mart. Here are pictures of the first three temples. Cindy collected two Gods at the third temple. We also started her off with a temple book to document each temple / shrine visit.

The fourth temple is one of my favorite in Tokyo. There are so many statues.

Soon we were crossing the Meguro River and on our way to the last two temples. We found all seven Gods! Extra luck for us this year.

As we were walking, we had a few ume (plum) blossom sightings.

After our Lucky Gods adventure, we were ready for lunch. Nothing sounded more perfect on an overcast damp winter day than ramen. It hit the spot!

After lunch we worked our way to Shibuya Crossing. We saw the Hachiko Memorial and the Shibuya scramble. We decided to check it out from the second floor of Starbucks!

Dave made us reservations at the New Sanno for the night. After exploring and shopping through Shibuya, we decided to go check into the hotel and drop our stuff. After a short reprieve, we hit the streets for more adventures! We hopped the train and headed to Harajuku. The first place I needed to take my sister in law from Chicago was Garrett’s! We picked up a few samples of yummy goodness before heading to Hedgehog Harry’s, the hedgehog cafe in Harajuku.

Once I was able to get past my aversion to rodents, we enjoyed our time. We paid for 30 minutes and a snack to feed the hedgehogs. The hedgehogs were cute and sleepy.

When they finished their snacks and feel soundly asleep, we decided to make our exit. It was a fun and unique experience. We can now say we have been to the first hedgehog cafe in the world. Ha!

After visiting the hedgehogs, we stopped for a burger at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. The best part was sharing the experience of Japanese burger wrapper with Cindy!

After wandering around Harajuku a little more, we decided to work our way to Roppongi for one final experience. We went to Tokyo City View. It is located in the 52nd floor of the Mori Art Museum building. The night time view of the city was spectacular. Tokyo Tower is the bright building on the right. Tokyo Skytree is the faint very tall building in the background on the left.

I have never seen so many lights! This will definitely be on Julia’s nighttime Tokyo tour.

We were returning back to the room after 9 pm. We had a long day packed full of fun. Tomorrow we have even more planned to see in the city! But now, I must sleep!

Day Two – Tokyo Tourists

After an amazing day at Tokyo Disneysea and a good night sleep at a Disney Resort Hotel, I planned for us to take the long way home via Tokyo. Layla placed Pizza de Michele at the top of her “must go to” list during her visit. So, we went for lunch. 


The staff was so friendly and allowed us to take pictures while we waited for our pizza. They even let Layla help cook! 


It was delicious! Check out that pizza! 


One final shot of the kawaii jack-o-lantern pizza. 


Here’s more great news. I had train books ready for Nina and Noah when they arrived. We were able to start their stamp collecting as we explored Tokyo!! I was even able to get a few new ones! 


After lunch, we went to Shibuya Crossing. Here we saw the Hachiko Statue and crossed through the crossing three times! Yay, tourists! 


After collecting another station stamp and a couple Hello Kitty stamps, we headed to Harajuku. We stopped for the mandatory Takeshita tourist photo. Do you see the spelling mistake on the marquee? Wabi-sabi in real life! 

Our first stop in Harajuku was at Cafe Mocha, a fancy cat cafe. Nina and Noah put cat cafe high on their “must do” list. I’ve been wanting to visit this cat cafe because it looks pretty cool from the street. We planned to stay 20 minutes. It easily turned into a 30 minute visit. We just needed a little more time to give all 16 cats enough love. 

This cute kitty reminded Layla, Nina, and Noah of their cat Simba. Kawaii! 

Perhaps the furriest cat in Japan! 

Cat in a bowl. 


The cafe had two rooms connected by a hallway. It was decorated in an Alice in Wonderland theme. 

Cat ears were available if you felt felined… I mean inclined. We did. 


Treats were available for purchase so you could feed the cats. The cats went crazy for the lollipop! We asked when we were leaving what it was made of. They were frozen chicken broth lollipops! Who knew? 


My favorite kitty was Pumpkin. He was a real life Grumpy Cat. Although he did seem a little happy to lick the lollipop! 


We had to tear the kids out of the cat cafe. We reminded them there was still cotton candy to eat and a toy store to shop! 

After a quick stop for a pair of cat ears, we made our way to the cotton candy place – Totti Candy Factory. 


Let me make a promise to you. When you visit me with your kids, I will spoil them with a HUGE mountain of cotton candy. 

All I ask for in return is a cotton candy face plant photo! This was a highlight to my day!! Pure sugar happiness. 


We finished walking down Takeshita street (so much kawaii) and worked our way to Kiddy Land. 


Kiddy Land is a four story toy store in Harajuku. It has every imaginable Japanese and U.S. toy. From Star Wars to Hello Kitty. 


We shopped until we dropped. On Pusheen! 


By the time we made it home the train count was up to seven. Seven different trains in one day! Some were pretty crowded. Especially, during rush hour. Nonetheless, we were all smiles! 


I had a great time sharing the Tokyo experience with this crew. They were flexible, inquisitive, and excited! Once again, I want to give photo credit to Layla for helping me document our day. And props to Dave for having dinner ready for us when we finally got home at 8:00pm! 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén