I first traveled to Japan in May of 2004. I decided to go with a few friends who were planning to visit their dad. I started learning Japanese in order to get ready for the trip. My go to phrase was “Yokohama yuki no basu wa, doko des ka?” That means, “where is the bus to Yokohama?” It was a good thing that I learned that because we were planning to stay in Yokohama which is the second largest urban city in Japan. I had so much fun that I promised myself I would return. Here’s how the trip went.
Our flight departed from Atlanta to Chicago before we were able to board the flight going to our ultimate destination Nagoya. Why Nagoya? Well, the new airport there had just been built and there were flights for half price. So we flew into Nagoya and rode the Shinkansen into Yokohama. The Shinkansen is the bullet train. It is pretty fast but you would never know because it is so smooth. It’s very easy to get around in Japan because of the public transportation.
Once we arrived we had a welcome dinner prepared by my friend’s parents. There was tempura and it was my first time trying it. It was so good! I think I ate tempura every chance I could get when I was there. When we first got into the house I had to take my shoes off and there were house slippers that I could put on to walk in the house. I really like this custom because it shows that you respect the person’s house and you will not bring in dirt from outside. We slept on bed prepared on the floor that were very comfortable. I got to see where my friends grew up and the elementary schools that they went to. What’s cool is that the kids were still going to school in Yokohama and it was late May. In Georgia, the kids were out of school already. I think they said that the schools are out in late June.
The next day I got up early to watch the sun rise. I had to get up pretty early because the sun rises at about 4 or 5 am. There were many people outside taking a walk and enjoying the morning air. Then I got ready to visit Tokyo. There is a train that will take you from Yokohama to Tokyo pretty quickly. We stopped for lunch, went shopping in Shibuya and I bought a high tech digital camera that was not available in the States yet.Then we came back to the house and played Dance Dance Revolution, which was pretty popular at the time. I made sure to take plenty of pictures so I could order digital photo prints later.
We spent a day in Yokohama at the docks and we rode the ferris wheel which used to be the largest in the world I think. It was definitely very high up. That night we had pot stickers and rice. Here we are fanning the rice. Then we made a raid on the local store! I love the snacks there! Melon candy, melon soda, chocolate Pocky and tons of other snacks. I think I still have some! lol
While we were there I experienced traditional karaoke for the first time. It is much different than what is done Stateside. There you have a room just for you and your group. And you choose songs and sing just for your group. None of this singing in front of random people. I sang a song by Utada Hikaru and I also learned a new song by M-Flo called Astromantic. I used most of these songs when I put together a video journal of the trip.
I really enjoyed my time in Japan and I promised myself that I would go back soon. I would really like to be accepted to win a free flight to Japan so I can visit more of the country. There is so much that I did not get to see and I would like to travel around more to some of the historic sites.