Konnichiwa, Tokyo!

Tokyo Thoughts

Video produced by Talia, my 12 y/o daughter. It’s our Tokyo trip in a nutshell!

I dreaded writing this article. It took me seven months and seven days to actually sit down and put my thoughts together for this story. Don't get me wrong, Tokyo was nothing short of amazing but putting my experience in writing was quite daunting. I have loads of stories to tell and hundreds of photos to share! It took me awhile to sort out what to post on this article, and I decided on making a mish mash of sorts - maybe something like a photo essay with some stories injected in between, yes?

   SENBAZURU   An ancient Japanese legend says that anyone who folds 1000 paper cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. 

SENBAZURU
An ancient Japanese legend says that anyone who folds 1000 paper cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. 

    S     OMEWHERE IN ROPPONGI HILLS   It's what they call a city within a city, the home of the Japanese IT industry. 

SOMEWHERE IN ROPPONGI HILLS
It's what they call a city within a city, the home of the Japanese IT industry. 

    T     OKYO DISNEYSEA   Me: "Erin, I want a picture with Jiminy Cricket!"  Erin: "Ok." ....after the photo.... Erin: "I don't even know who that is."

TOKYO DISNEYSEA
Me: "Erin, I want a picture with Jiminy Cricket!" 
Erin: "Ok."
....after the photo....
Erin: "I don't even know who that is."


Walk this way. Or that way.

 Walk this way. Or that way. I don't know anymore. Getting around the train stations was confusing to me (not to my husband) and I couldn't make sense out of the maps and the signs. I think I could make one whole article and maybe even a video about getting lost in Tokyo's subway system. But getting lost underground is actually an advantage because you get to shop and eat at the various establishments!

Walk this way. Or that way. I don't know anymore. Getting around the train stations was confusing to me (not to my husband) and I couldn't make sense out of the maps and the signs. I think I could make one whole article and maybe even a video about getting lost in Tokyo's subway system. But getting lost underground is actually an advantage because you get to shop and eat at the various establishments!

 We walked a lot while in Tokyo so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and if you have a toddler with you, make sure to bring a stroller!

We walked a lot while in Tokyo so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and if you have a toddler with you, make sure to bring a stroller!

 Of course there are cabs and Uber if you prefer getting to your destination faster (or if you're traveling with those who can't physically take the long walks), but what I liked about all the walking was we got to see a lot of interesting things (and people) along the way. 

Of course there are cabs and Uber if you prefer getting to your destination faster (or if you're traveling with those who can't physically take the long walks), but what I liked about all the walking was we got to see a lot of interesting things (and people) along the way. 


National dress up day

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Or, National (Un)Dress Day if we go by this gentleman's outfit. Our first taste of Tokyo was Halloween and Erin was absolutely thrilled that her Wonder Woman costume was put to good use! If you thought that the Japanese were already creative dressers during a normal day, you'd be in for a treat if you visit them during Halloween.

Instead of trick or treating, Halloween in Tokyo is celebrated by wearing crazy costumes and partying in the streets. Some of the locals probably found it funny and strange that we were dressed in normal clothes (except for Erin) so some asked for a photo with us! Seeing the locals hamming it up with their crazy getup was definitely a highlight of our trip.

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The happiest place on earth

 A trip to a  Disney resort  is an opportunity to practice the virtue of patience. Long lines (even with Fast Pass) and painful lower bodies are rewarded with short but extraordinary rides enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

A trip to a Disney resort is an opportunity to practice the virtue of patience. Long lines (even with Fast Pass) and painful lower bodies are rewarded with short but extraordinary rides enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

 I was few seconds too late, I wasn't able to take a shot of Mount Prometheus' explosion. It's still a gorgeous view though especially at sundown. 

I was few seconds too late, I wasn't able to take a shot of Mount Prometheus' explosion. It's still a gorgeous view though especially at sundown. 

 I was running to catch up with my family because I kept on stopping to take photos but I absolutely had to stop again for this sunset photo in DisneySea.

I was running to catch up with my family because I kept on stopping to take photos but I absolutely had to stop again for this sunset photo in DisneySea.

If you've read my past posts then you'll know that my family and I prefer going to places with no crowds. We try to avoid the tourist traps and we really try to experience a place the closest possible way that the locals enjoy it.

But how can we say no to our two girls and our nephew? It was already a given that we'd devote two days of our eight day trip to Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland. And yes, I do agree that it is the happiest place on Earth!

 I want a bigger version of this tree house in my future garden. 

I want a bigger version of this tree house in my future garden. 

 Do NOT miss this ride! I think we waited more than two hours just to go through Splash Mountain.

Do NOT miss this ride! I think we waited more than two hours just to go through Splash Mountain.

 Get your senior companions these nifty little carts! Aside from them not complaining about all the walking, you get to dump your bags and other items in the carts' baskets.

Get your senior companions these nifty little carts! Aside from them not complaining about all the walking, you get to dump your bags and other items in the carts' baskets.

 Guess who enjoyed the most at this mini-roller coaster? 

Guess who enjoyed the most at this mini-roller coaster? 


Style Files

Tokyo is full of contradictions when it comes to fashion. There are those who are seen wearing minimalist clothing, prioritising comfort. Then on the flip side, you'll see cosplay outfits or costume-like clothes in the most random of places. There is also what the Japanese call Osorio Code (or matching outfits) which is quite popular with the younger generation. Read my 6 y/o's commentary on these fashion finds!

 Erin: "Looks like Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony."

Erin: "Looks like Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony."

 Erin: "Dad's buying me a new dress?!?"

Erin: "Dad's buying me a new dress?!?"

 Erin: "That toy looks like a doggie with a rabbit behind her."

Erin: "That toy looks like a doggie with a rabbit behind her."

 Erin: "For Mr. Beast, I do a thumbs up!"

Erin: "For Mr. Beast, I do a thumbs up!"

The Osorio Code is a physical manifestation of the feeling of solidarity or closeness. Thanks to Lenian Gaspar for the photos!


What's your story?

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We love watching people. What we love even more is shooting candid photos of them. I would've gotten more photos and videos but I was too shy to point my camera to anyone looking my way! I always try to imagine the stories of the diverse characters that I encounter and Tokyo gave me so much imaginary content to entertain me for days. What's my favorite among this batch of photos? 

The girl in the white dress with an umbrella like thing on her face. Maybe she's a performance artist preparing for a big show and she's trying out her concept along the streets of Ginza before doing it in front of a bigger audience. Or maybe she's just that right amount of kooky and wants to bring a bit of entertainment to the weekend crowd of Tokyo. I love her, whatever her reason is.

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Big city greens

Tokyo isn’t just the biggest city in the world. It’s the biggest city in the history of the world.
— The Atlantic
 Takeshita Dori in Harajuku. Erin: "It was a crowded place so it was really hard to walk. I like that we got to go to many stores!" 

Takeshita Dori in Harajuku. Erin: "It was a crowded place so it was really hard to walk. I like that we got to go to many stores!" 

Tokyo is so densely populated with a wide metropolitan area home to several large corporations in Japan.  With it being one of the largest urban sprawls in the world, I love that they still found a way to incorporate (huge) pockets of greens here and there to give its residents a breath of fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

We loved hanging out at Mori Garden which was in the middle of all the scrycrapers in the area (it was also on the way to our favorite breakfast place, McDonald's in Roponggi Hills). We were also able to check out Rikugien Garden, a gorgeous park with trails snaking within the vicinity leading to pockets in the forest and open lawns. 

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A love letter to carS 

When in Tokyo, car spotting is just too easy. If anything, car spotting here makes you numb to otherwise special cars because there are just too many of them at any given point.
— Miguel Olfindo
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My husband Miguel, car nut, and 1/3 of Opus Macchina, kept on ogling at these gorgeous vehicles. Can't blame him!


A foodie's haven

 They said we should visit  Tsukiji Market  early to catch the tuna auction but instead of arriving at 5:00 am, we arrived at 3:00 pm. Eeek! Traveling with eleven people with different sleep patterns, including kids and seniors, made it quite tricky to get things going as early as some would've wanted. A lot of the shops were already closed by the time we got there, but some were still open so we still ended up eating a LOT!

They said we should visit Tsukiji Market early to catch the tuna auction but instead of arriving at 5:00 am, we arrived at 3:00 pm. Eeek! Traveling with eleven people with different sleep patterns, including kids and seniors, made it quite tricky to get things going as early as some would've wanted. A lot of the shops were already closed by the time we got there, but some were still open so we still ended up eating a LOT!

 Erin: "I love the train thingy because you don't have to stand up and get the food! And you can get whatever you want."  Talia: "You have so many options without having to pick from a menu. It just passes in front of you!"

Erin: "I love the train thingy because you don't have to stand up and get the food! And you can get whatever you want."

Talia: "You have so many options without having to pick from a menu. It just passes in front of you!"

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 The video of me cutting up the egg of this gorgeous Omurice was a big fail. This one's a cheap but yummy dish in one of Tokyo's train stations.

The video of me cutting up the egg of this gorgeous Omurice was a big fail. This one's a cheap but yummy dish in one of Tokyo's train stations.

I am horrible at documenting food because I would rather attack and eat than take a bunch of photos before tasting. I like eating it hot and fresh! I think everything we ate was so delicious, whether it was bought at some fancy restaurant, at the market, along the street, or at a convenience store like 7-11 or Family Mart. We'd usually grab something quick to bite for breakfast and we'd get our fix from McDonald's or Family Mart. I am NOT a huge fan of the McDonald's franchise and I am boycotting the ones here in the Philippines, but I would gladly eat at the McDonald's in Tokyo every day. It's so clean, their value meals come with sides like corn, and the packaging of their sauces are so well thought of that you don't get your hands dirty while opening them.

Our favorite at Family Mart was the Onigiri which you can eat on the go. That's another winner when it comes to packaging! While it's inside the plastic, the seaweed is outside the rice but when you remove the plastic a certain way, the rice is wrapped by the seaweed. Love it. Other cheap but yummy finds at both 7-11 and Family Mart are the ramen and the fresh fruits. Not everything in Tokyo is expensive. You just have to pick what you eat! And even if you're on a tight budget, there are some restaurants that are priced mid-range (some are even cheaper than Manila restaurants). Oh, and I wasn't able to take photos, but you must eat at Shake Shack. Sweet Ecstasy here in Manila is a close second, in case you haven't tried Shake Shack yet.


A hodgepodge of tips

 Shop at  Don Quixote . Food, toiletries, whisky, clothes and so much more are way cheaper here and it's tax free for a minimum purchase of JPY 5,000. We bought bottles of whisky, this white backpack that goes with me on most trips, lots of  Kracie Popin' Cookin' Bento  boxes and a bunch of snacks. Of course, you're in Tokyo, so you can also check out a lot of crazy finds and even a whole floor with stuff just for adults (if you know what I mean). 

Shop at Don Quixote. Food, toiletries, whisky, clothes and so much more are way cheaper here and it's tax free for a minimum purchase of JPY 5,000. We bought bottles of whisky, this white backpack that goes with me on most trips, lots of Kracie Popin' Cookin' Bento boxes and a bunch of snacks. Of course, you're in Tokyo, so you can also check out a lot of crazy finds and even a whole floor with stuff just for adults (if you know what I mean). 

 Get a  P  ASMO  card at the Narita or Haneda airports, train stations, or bus stops. It works like a pre-paid card to pay for your transportation, in shops, and even vending machines. Kids enjoy special commuter rates so make sure you have their identification on hand when purchasing their  PASMO  passes.

Get a PASMO card at the Narita or Haneda airports, train stations, or bus stops. It works like a pre-paid card to pay for your transportation, in shops, and even vending machines. Kids enjoy special commuter rates so make sure you have their identification on hand when purchasing their PASMO passes.

 Rent a pocket wifi online - there are so many of them. Book online, pick up at the airport right when you land in Tokyo, then just drop it off in any mailbox before you head back home. Easy peasy.

Rent a pocket wifi online - there are so many of them. Book online, pick up at the airport right when you land in Tokyo, then just drop it off in any mailbox before you head back home. Easy peasy.

 Know basic Japanese words before going. Erin thought " Ni hao! " was Japanese for "hello" and I thought that the locals were saying "Hawaii?" while pointing to my kids. So I kept on saying, "No, Manila." It was a face palm moment when Talia told me that the locals were saying " kawaii " which is Japanese for cute!!!

Know basic Japanese words before going. Erin thought "Ni hao!" was Japanese for "hello" and I thought that the locals were saying "Hawaii?" while pointing to my kids. So I kept on saying, "No, Manila." It was a face palm moment when Talia told me that the locals were saying "kawaii" which is Japanese for cute!!!

 Introduce new (and old) things to your kids. Erin: "What is this thing?" Hahahaha omigoodness I feel so old. 

Introduce new (and old) things to your kids. Erin: "What is this thing?" Hahahaha omigoodness I feel so old. 


(mis)adventure buddies

I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.
— Mark Twain
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We barely scratched Tokyo's surface and we're so eager to go back for more. We'd also love to explore the other parts of Japan! True, adjusting to the pace of the others will always be difficult at first but I think creating new memories with your loved ones will always outweigh the the so called negatives of group travel. 

I will always remember spending hours in a Spanish restaurant near our hotel eating plates of prosciutto and drinking several glasses of wine with my family. My kids, who were already close to my parents before the trip, got a chance to further cement that bond when they all went on rides together in DisneySea and Disneyland.

Experiencing different cultures and seeing new things together is what I love most about traveling with my family. And since I have a faulty memory, I post snippets of stories on my Instagram account and a longer version on this website so that I can go back to it every so often. And if you've made it all the way to this part of the article, thank you so much for reading my ramblings! Send me a message to say hi because I think I'm the only one who reads the stuff that I post here (aside from my husband who proofreads my articles).

 Erin cried after getting off Splash Mountain because she got scared of the drop. We think Erin got carried away with Talia's excitement and took it as fear. 

Erin cried after getting off Splash Mountain because she got scared of the drop. We think Erin got carried away with Talia's excitement and took it as fear. 

 We wanted a photo because we had matching jammies and in the middle of the photo session, somebody farted and we ended up laughing. Any guesses on who’s the culprit?

We wanted a photo because we had matching jammies and in the middle of the photo session, somebody farted and we ended up laughing. Any guesses on who’s the culprit?

 While everyone else was busy shopping, we stayed outside for some people watching. We also had an impromptu street photography session with the Instagram hubby because he bought a new lens a few minutes before this was shot.

While everyone else was busy shopping, we stayed outside for some people watching. We also had an impromptu street photography session with the Instagram hubby because he bought a new lens a few minutes before this was shot.

 It's not a Get Lost adventure if we don't literally get lost. While everyone else was trying to figure out where to go, here's Talia observing what's happening around her.

It's not a Get Lost adventure if we don't literally get lost. While everyone else was trying to figure out where to go, here's Talia observing what's happening around her.


 

またすぐに会いましょう

Mata sugu ni aimashō

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Oh, Tokyo. You make me homesick for you even if you're not really my home. See you again soon (I hope).

Workaholic and multitasking momma who absolutely enjoys what she does as Executive Producer for OTT.  Has faulty memory so taking photos of almost everything is part of her everyday life.