|The view from our hotel.|
Well hey there, pals! Apologies for the long absence. We took an almost-three week honeymoon and it took me another week and a half before I wasn't waking up at 3:30 in the morning with an insatiable craving for matcha KitKats.
Many people have asked why we chose to go on a honeymoon a full six months after we tied the knot. Simple: it was rainy season in Thailand in July. Plus, delaying the trip meant that I had a full six months post-wedding to a) get really skinny again b) obsessively stalk the six-seat sushi restaurants at which I wanted reservations c) gradually deal with my sorrow over the end of my wedding. It was a win-win-win. Well, minus that first part. A girl can only not eat salmon, tomatoes, and mango for so long.
Since we hit up five destinations on our trip, I'm going to post city by city. First up: TOKYO. I had wanted to explore this town ever since I was a wee one, but, I won't lie, after seeing Lost in Translation, I was hoping that by vacationing there I too would develop a raspy voice like Scarlett's.
The trip started on a rather inauspicious note: the day before we left -- after literal months of planning -- I woke up with a bad sore throat. The last time I was struck with said sore throat it turned into the flu (and I also happened to be in Dallas cover the Superbowl. That was ... super.), so I was alternately panic-stricken and depressed that my whole trip was about to be spent in bed sipping miso. I basically snorted lines of Airborne and chugged water and prayed for the best.
And then: a miracle. Economy was overbooked and there were extra seats in business class on our 13 hour-plus ANA flight. And not only that, they were LIE-FLAT SEATS!
|Oh so happy.|
If any of you ever have the opportunity to fly ANA, run, don't walk, to the airport. Best airplane food, service and seats I have ever experienced. The stewardesses even made us a honeymoon card, complete with stickers.
After chowing down on a legitimate kaiseki meal, Mike and I each popped some NyQuil, LAY DOWN, and slept for a good seven hours. Yes, we still had about another five to kill when we woke up, but watching documentaries on Japanese girl groups like AKB48 kept me well entertained. Our luggage even came off the plane first! I wish I could say that I would never go back to flying economy, but, I can't.
|Mood lighting and a big bed at the Peninsula.|
We decided to make our home base close to Ginza since it's pretty accessible to the other parts of the city. After lots and lots of website ogling, we decided on The Peninsula. This was our first introduction to Japanese hospitality and we were not disappointed. This was also our first introduction to heated toilet seats and I don't think my life will ever be the same.
Since we woke up around 3 AM that first morning, we headed straight for Tsukiji Fish Market, where the tuna auction and breakfast sushi have become something of an institution. Unfortunately the auction is closed for most of January, but the sushi-ya open up bright and early around 5 AM.
|Okame sushi bar, pretty full before the sun rise.|
There are probably dozens of tiny sushi spots within the market and since all of them are getting their fish from about two feet away, any one of them is a good bet. We ordered basically a sampler platter at a place called Okame and my life changed forever.
After leaving the market, our food tour continued with perusing the basement-level food halls of some of the department stores in Ginza. One thing I learned: Japanese people love their fruit, especially melons (zing). We saw some musk melons that were priced at almost $300 PER MELON.
Next up, Asakusa, one of the only areas in Tokyo that's retained pre-WWII architecture. It's famous for its temple, which is pretty impressive.
|Five story pagoda.|
Another surprising cultural phenomenon: you actually see women wearing kimono everywhere. I wish I knew where they bought their special socks you can wear with flip flops.
If you're looking for the latest in electronic gadgets, Tokyo is also very handy. Akihabara is basically the tech district, where giant electronic retailers are on every corner.
|Mike checking out the latest in 3D technology.|
And of course, we had to eat more. Our second dinner was at RyuGin, one of the more famous kaiseki restaurants, located in Roppongi. Jet lag hit us pretty hard while we were here, but we managed (forced ourselves!) to eat all 2580 courses.
|Check out this sashimi.|
Continuing our trend of awesome breakfasts, we made our way to Tokyo Station to investigate "Ramen Street," a corridor of ramen restaurants located in the basement of the train station. It may have taken us a solid 15 minutes to find it once we were AT the station ("But the map says WE'RE ON TOP OF IT."), but it was well worth the wait. This was the best ramen I have ever had in my life and, I would venture to say, ever will have.
Rokurinsha, the ramen parlor at which we ate, is known for tsukemen ramen, which means the broth and the noodles are served separately. I'm not kidding: if someone filled me up a bathtub with this broth I could most definitely drink my way through it. And I would smell delicious.
Well-nourished, we headed to explore Shinjuku and Shibuya, two of the trendier districts. Also, home to CAT CAFES. Mike is a great husband because he sat in a room with like two dozen felines while I rolled around in catnip and canned tuna squealing.
|My newest friend.|
There's only one place to truly experience the tremendous amount of humans in Tokyo: the crossing in Shibuya, which is sometimes known as The Scramble.
We probably could have stayed there for a solid hour just people-watching. BUT, speaking of people watching:
|Shopgirl at La Foret|
Harajuku really is everything that Gwen Stefani said it was. Also, they're very used to posing for pictures there. This area is home to a lot of teenagers dressed up like coked-up Victorian grannies or babies or both, but it also kind of feels like a mix between Santa Monica and Soho. Basically, I'd move here if I could.
My favorite temple of the whole trip was also here and we were lucky enough to see a wedding procession.
At the other end of the spectrum was sumo. Again, we lucked out with our timing and the first day of the winter tournament happened to be our last day in the city. The matches only last for about eight seconds, but the crowd goes absolutely nuts.
|A white sumo wrestler!|
We definitely crammed a lot (of food) in our four days in the city, but I feel like we managed to see all the major hits. That doesn't mean I wouldn't hop on a plane tomorrow to keep exploring. It's a magical place.
I leave you with this picture of the two of us with master sushi chef Mizutani aka my new BFF4L.