Jumping for “JOY” in Tokyo

I have to start off by just saying, wow! For being one of the largest cities in the world, it is also by far the cleanest, kindest and most organized compared to some other places. After our long 14 hours of travel, we arrived at Tokyo’s Narita Airport and of course what better way to get to our apartment than the train! So we picked up our bags and hauled them to the Narita Express which then dropped us off at the Shibuya station which was incredibly busy. So, we waited in line and packed ourselves in shoulder to shoulder with our big suitcases until we hit Harajuku. After that first day, I immediately fell in love with Tokyo.

Although we were only in Tokyo for eight days, we packed a lot of stuff in. On the first day, we went to an incredible coffee shop (this was the only one open early, the rest open at 10 or even 11!) and had some caramel lattes and some sort of cheese pastry. After sitting there for a while, my friend Joy walked in to meet us! Joy and I went to JCC Ranch Camp together and instantly became friends. But, it’s really rare that I get to see her since she lives half way across the world! That whole first day consisted of wandering through Harajuku and discovering the amazing Japanese fashion scene, and of course a lot of eating! Throughout the rest of our week there, we visited a few amazing shrines, walked through Yogogi and Ueno park which, not to mention, had not one piece of trash on the ground which was incredible. Several people informed us about the trash situation in Tokyo saying that there are hardly any trash cans around the city because they’re terrified of bomb threats. But what’s crazy about that, is people don’t just throw their trash on the ground, they actually keep it with them for usually the entire day until they get home to a trash can.

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Walking through the parks was definitely a great experience but some of my absolute favorite activities were the Labor Thanksgiving Day festival and the Robot Restaurant. First, Labor Thanksgiving Day is a huge national holiday because it celebrates those who labor and since it’s such a big holiday, the festival is big as well. When we first entered, we were hit with the scent of amazing, traditional Japanese food so of course we had to stop. Our first food venture was at one of the very first booths which was serving chow mien by the pound. We quickly ate our noodles, had a nice chat with a very friendly Japanese man and then continued into the heart of the festival. We stopped along the way to eat some chocolate covered bananas, more chow mien and to look at the super cute babies. After our stomachs were full, we had made it to the center of the festival which was where the more traditional goods were being sold like the festive rakes. The rakes are basically a fan of small or large scale adorned with decorative items such as cats, coins or fish. Several gigantic rakes dotted the sky as people were lugging them home. And of course we couldn’t leave without at least one rake so, we bought a tiny one with a sparkly cat and a fish.

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My other favorite activity was visiting the Robot Restaurant. WTF! First we walked up to buy tickets and there were two huge robots outside that you could sit on and take a picture so we had to stop for that photo op. When we finally got inside, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were huge crazy robots moving around the floor and girls dressed in bizarre animal costumes dancing along side the robots. That was definitely a fun experience.

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So, for any of you who are wanting to visit Tokyo whether it’s over a school break or even a study abroad later in college, I would highly recommend it. Hope every one had a great Thanksgiving!

XoXo – Penn

P.S. Don’t forget to check out some of my photos on Flickr!

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