Posted by: jyunbugspeaks | February 13, 2013

First Bucket List moment of 2013 close at hand!

2010-05-20_0028This has been in the plans for 2 years now. My bucket list moment of 2013 has finally come true. We have finally booked a flight to Tokyo Japan to witness the cherry blossom festival. If you have been following me for a while I had this goal set back in 2012 but my plans were dashed when a combination of vacation timing at work and sky-high prices caused me to put this goal on hold….but I’m happy to say the stars have lined together and my window of opportunity to travel has arrived for the end of March!  You’re probably thinking what’s the big deal, there are plenty of places to see cherry blossoms like in Washington DC, Vancouver and even Toronto Canada. I’ve seen them bloom at both Canadian cities (I hear Washington is beautiful too) but I wanted to see this where it originated. Plus I heard they have awesome “viewing” festivals and parties celebrating this spring time ritual in Japan. Unfortunately this is only the first hurdle on my journey to witness this in my parents homeland (they immigrated from Tokyo and Kyoto respectively).  The second hurdle you see is that these flowers only bloom for one week and that window of witnessing this magical moment is hard to predict. If the weather during the months before is relatively mild, cherry blossom trees will open early, around the end of March. If it was a cold winter, the blossom will bloom later, in April. Crossing fingers, I hope we picked the right week. I was told by my relatives that once in Tokyo there are many parks to see these flowers but they say the best and most popular places are Ueno Park in upper central Tokyo, Meguro River, Shinjuku Gyoen (bonus our hotel is situated near there!) and the Imperial Palace. I will be there for 10 days so I plan to go to as many places as I can!

Once my gf and I arrive I’m hoping we are smack dab in the middle of the cherry blossom festivities. I can’t wait to see all the unique and wonderful smells, tastes, sounds and sights of Tokyo during this traditional ceremony. I have seen pictures of geisha’s walking around Asakusa with the streets lined with cherry blossom petals that appear as if pink snow had fallen and blanked the district or Ueno park packed with families having “viewing picnics” or parties! I can’t wait!

Sometimes well laid plans may not go as planned but I have other goals that I wanted to achieve while I’m in  Tokyo too. Here are a few that came to mind:

1. Visit the Hachiko bronze statue outside of Shinjuku station. Why this statue? I recentlyhachiko200505-41 watched a movie that was based on this famous dog in Japan and it was very touching. Later on I read the true story of a very loyal and faithful dog named Hachiko, a Japanese Akita, who every morning would walk with his master, Dr. Ueno to the train station at Shinjuku and return home with him every night. Haha this is sounding like a fairy tale but it’s true! One day Dr. Ueno died of a stroke at work and did not return home. However Hachiko would continue to wait for his master to return to the train station. Rain nor winter storms would not deter this dog and he would wait patiently for the doctor everyday for 10 years! The citizens of Tokyo would start to notice that this big white dog would be waiting and soon people were feeding him, bringing him to the vet whenever he was sick and generally looking out for him until he, sadly, passed away. Truly an awe-inspiring tale of man’s best friend so I gotta check it out.

2.  Take a ride up the Tokyo Tower: Unfortunately this tower has no jump off point like in the Macau Tower. It resembles the Eiffel Tower of Paris but on a smaller scale. Regardless it is a good vantage point to see all of Tokyo so I’m heading there for the view. Strange…I never went here before.

Jyun and Nancy's HK trip 4323. Visit the majestic Meiji Shrine: This Shinto shrine is one of the more famous shrines in Tokyo and was completed in 1926 but was subsequently destroyed during the Tokyo air raids of WWII. It was built for the Emperor Meiji and his wife Shoken to dedicate their defining spirits, this vast shrine was rebuilt in 1958 and was enveloped in a forest stretching over 700,000 sq. meters with over 120,000 trees of 365 different species that were donated and planted from around Japan. I have been here before but it’s tradition for me to visit and pay my respect to the japanese history and culture so I’m there!

4. Witness a traditional tea ceremony. I will have to look this up and figure out where they still do this. It is a lost art but I think in some parts in Tokyo they still practice this tradition.

5. Visit the awesome spectacle that is a Japanese baseball game: I would love to visit a ballgiants_2006logo park in Tokyo. I know for a fact that the Japanese are baseball fanatics and to see the Tokyo Giants (the New York Yankees of Japan) would be an awesome experience!

6. Take a picture with a Geisha: Not sure if they appreciate being photographed with tourists but I’ll ask my relatives if that’s even possible. As a backup, pictures with a zany characters at Harajuku on a Sunday. This will be a fun goal!

7. Eat, eat and eat some more! I know Tokyo will have the best types of foods of all kinds but there are a few types that I want to experience. One is to eat in an old school ramen hut. The ones that are lined down an alley way and when you enter you hear shouts of welcome in japanese – “irashaimasen!” and another is a traditional “shabu shabu” place. This type of dining is enjoyed by dipping raw food whether it’s thin strips of wagyu beef, silky soft tofu or fresh vibrant vegetables in a daisho (seaweed) broth and letting it cook slowly until tender. Super healthy and really delicious. Trust me when I say this will be an eating trip with unexpected surprises and tons of new and interesting culinary delights!!!

8. Eat at a crazy themed restaurant (see I told you : P): I have researched this and there are some wacky places to visit. A couple of places that could be interesting are The Ninja Cafe or the Gundam Cafe either way it will be an experience for sure.

9. If I have time I would like to visit as many silly places that just define Japanese wackiness and insane culture. For example there is a the world’s shortest escalator at a mall called the Moor, a gigantic copper cuckoo clock designed by the anime legend Hayao Miyazaki or possibly stay a night in one of those famous tube hotels.

10. Lastly I would like to see if I can spend sometime with my relatives. It’s been a very long time since I have seen my aunts, uncles and cousins so that would be really awesome to connect again. I was just a teenager the last time I came for a visit and it would be a shame if I didn’t get to see them.

Well I hope I can achieve some if not all of these goals so that my trip to Japan will be a great moment in my life. I’m sure it will be a once in a life time experience and I will record and capture it all on this blog and my facebook page (like it if you can!) Cheers everyone!

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