After spending four months in Asia we came to realize a few things. Number one, SE Asia is completely different from Asia, Asia. Gone were the days of waking up to the crow of a rooster or the gun shot as one became dinner. Gone too were the days of tuk-tuks and cheap eats. China and Korea were so industrialized and modern and serious they were a stark contrast to the Asia we’d grown to love. Not knowing what to expect from Japan, we arrived in Tokyo with open minds and starving bellies! It was late and the travel day, like all the others, had been long. By the time we found our place and dumped our packs it was 10pm so we hit the streets hoping to find anywhere we could refuel.
Our neighborhood in Tokyo was great! It was all locals who spoke almost no English but were so friendly and always up for a game of charades with us as we tried to navigate menus, train schedules, etc. The food was amazing and Trevor and I did our best to eat our body weight in sushi!
Japan was such a fun country! Not at all serious like China and Korea had been. I joked that Japan is like the love child if Hawaii and China had a baby. The culture is modern and high tech like China but fun and relaxed like Hawaii. Train stations were filled with the strangest coin machines and vending machines cover every street. We saw Mario Kart characters racing around the city and stood in the worlds busiest intersection at rush hour. We visited the Pokemon mega store which was probably the highlight of Trevor’s entire trip and wandered the streets in search of cherry blossoms. I’ve found I’m not really much into big cities but this is one I could keep coming back to.
After 4 nights in Tokyo we were off to Mt. Fuji to brave Fuji Q Highlands amusement park. The park is home to 3 world record holding roller coasters, and the best part, Charlotte was finally tall enough to ride! We spun, dipped, raced and flipped all day with Mt Fuji as our back drop. The other great thing about this leg of the trip was staying in a traditional Japanese hotel. We slept on mats in the middle of the floor and soaked naked in the onsen down the hall. Trevor’s favorite part…you could walk around the hotel in PJs and slippers as shoes were not allowed and everyone at an onsen is in PJs! Two days definitely wasn’t long enough to explore the beauty of the area. We’ve since had to move hiking Mt Fuji on to the bucket list for another time.
Our final stop in Japan was to Osaka and Kyoto. Our teeny tiny apartment came with a hammock attached to the walls and an SNES game console. The kids were in heaven! After much cajoling, we were able to drag them away from the toys and out for a day around Kyoto. This time of year is so beautiful there with cherry blossoms hanging over rivers, people roaming the streets dressed in geisha outfits and bamboo forests outlying the city. We found a beautiful hike up to a reserve where we were able to feed macaque monkeys and watch them play and swing across the park. We had a great time wandering around soaking it all in.
Our final day in Osaka Michael and I left the kids behind and wandered the local market. We found interesting temples, crazy restaurants and a food market unlike any we’d seen before. It was a great ending to our Asian adventure but left us longing for more. The countryside in Japan is so beautiful and the people all over the country were friendly and warm. I know it’s a place we’ll dream of returning to someday but for right now its time to make the long journey back to the states. We’re not ready for our life-pause to end yet, and luckily we still have a little more time. We’re excited to spend time with friends we haven’t seen in a long time and looking forward to some of the luxuries we’ve missed from home. Time to pack up our bags one final time, take one last flight (really 4) and complete our journey around the globe. The adventure continues…