Adam and I touched down in Tokyo late afternoon and quickly had to try to find our good friends Ai and Daniel and manage our way through the world’s largest metro system. Trying to follow the terrific directions Ai gave us before we even left for Japan, it was very overwhelming because when you add millions of commuters with hundreds of line options, we were going to be confused a little. Luckily, the signage in the Shinjuku terminal where we ended up finding them was very good.
We were so excited to meet up with Ai and Dan because this would be the second time we have reunited since travelling, and because we were going to celebrating the newly wed’s marriage in Japan with Ai’s friends and family. Dan asked Adam to take pictures during the party. I don’t think Adam will become a wedding photographer anytime soon, but I think he liked the new assignment. We had a great time meeting their friends and family, everyone was so open and welcoming. We also met a great family, Toby and his cute children Lexy and Paddy, Ai and Dan’s good friend from London who flew in for the celebration. Adam and I spent a lot of time seeing Japan with our group of seven people. We had such a great time with them.
The first thing we learned in Tokyo is that everything is VERY expensive. We had an idea that it wouldn’t be cheap, but you don’t really feel it until the yen starts flying out of your pocket. Luckily, Adam and I were able to share a friends apartment with Ai and Dan, which saved us a lot of money. Not being in a hostel/hotel/tent and in an actual apartment was a nice change of pace. We made dinner in the flat a couple times and even were able to do laundry, in a real washing machine! We couldn’t thank these two enough for welcoming us with open arms to share their wedding celebration and a roof over our heads.
Adam did a quick food reference for Japan, but he forgot to tell you about the conveyer belt sushi restaurants. They are incredible! It was some of the best sushi we had ever eaten, and like he had previously stated sushi doesn’t come in rolls, like we are used to in the USA, but they only come as sashimi (only sliced, raw fish) or nigiri (small rectangle of rice with a thinly sliced piece of fish placed on top). Adam was feeling brave and challenged Ai to pick a plate that would get under his skin- so he ended up trying all sorts of weird options like mackerel and weird types of octopus and squid. I, on the other hand, played the safe route and ate tuna, salmon, and shrimp.
Ai did an amazing job planning a small itinerary for us by showing us around Tokyo and the beautiful Shinto shrines, markets, and great restaurants. We were even lucky enough to be visiting the Meiji Jingu Shrine while a traditional wedding photo was being taken, so beautiful and very serious. Ai had told us that traditional weddings are becoming more rare because brides are preferring western weddings. While at the shrine we followed Ai in what were the proper ways of paying your respects. A lot of traditions were writing prayers on wooden plaques and hanging them up, or pulling a stick with a number on it and finding what your fortune was. Whether you had good, medium, or bad luck. Adam picked excellent luck and I picked bad luck, but Ai reassured me that her grandma always told her “It could only get better, right?”
Adam and I had a couple days on our own to walk around and get lost in Tokyo, and since Adam was navigating, we found ourselves in a lot of video game stores in a part of town known as Akihabara electric town. They had resale shops for video games and systems and large building with all sorts of arcade games on each floor, Adam was in heaven. I even found a way to keep myself occupied while Adam shuffled through all the old video games by playing some original Mario Brothers!