Adventures in Japan (part one)

Aloha everyone, I have just returned 17 days spent traveling through Japan, Thailand and Korea.  I have so much to share about my amazing adventures there.  Over the next several days I will be sharing lots of information about my travels with a few project pictures tucked in between.  

Traveling is one of my passions and this trip had lots of highlights that I can't wait to share with you.    All three of these destinations were places I had never been before so that made this particular trip even more exciting and adventurous.   

Due to my recent surgery I wasn't sure I would be able to go, so when I got the "green light" to travel, I was truly grateful I didn't have to miss traveling and seeing so many wonderful friends from around the globe.

Japan was the one place I was most anxious to go to.  I have many friends who go there regularly and everyone I know who has been there raves about it.  I was so excited to experience Japan and see if I would love it as much as everyone else seemed to do.

One of the fun things about traveling to Japan was that I was going to get to see Ruka.  Ruka is a  friend of mine who has been living in Japan for almost 20 years.  We met in Fiji back in the late 1980's when I was on a  Summer of Missions trip with the organization Youth With A Mission.  When we arrived in Japan, Ruka was there to greet us.

Ruka and Cindy in Tokyo

Ruka and Cindy in Tokyo

It was nice to have her meet us at the airport as she was able to show us what bus to get on for the 1 hour ride to our hotel in Tokyo.  As we road on the bus we chatted quietly trying to catch up as it had been ten years since we had seen each other.  I quickly noticed that everyone else on the bus was silent.  It made me lower my voice to a whisper to talk with Ruka so that I wouldn't disturb the quiet and calm that was on the bus.

Ruka took us to a very nice Japanese Restaurant with a view.  Although we had been up for hours traveling, we forgot all about jet lag and had such an enjoyable time with such delicious food and great company.  We also saw that not many people spoke English so it was very handy to be with Ruka to help us order and communicate with the local people we encountered.

Our first dinner in Tokyo

Our first dinner in Tokyo

The next morning we were on our own because our friends the Loven's and the Mahon's weren't going to arrive till later that evening.   As we set out to explore that morning the first thing I noticed was all the people heading to work.  It was a sea of black pants and white shirts. It was so interesting.  Everything was so orderly, people were pleasant and very, very quiet.  I didn't see many people walking and talking on the phone, no people arguing or talking loudly to each other and although there were lots of taxi cabs on the road, I never heard one beep their horn once!

Japanese Workers

Japanese Workers

We took a stroll to the Meiji Shrine which was located in this big beautiful park.  We knew we were going to go back there the next day so we didn't explore everywhere, but it was a nice place to walk and cool down as it was quite humid there that day.

Derek and Cindy in Japan

Derek and Cindy in Japan

After we left there we saw a tall building and a sign for a Cat Cafe.  It wasn't on our list of places to see but we were out exploring so we decided to check it out.

I spy the Cat Cafe

I spy the Cat Cafe

We went inside and had to take off our shoes, put on slippers and wear a cat ear headband.  We were able to go to a vending machine and choose a drink to enjoy while there.  It was fun to see and play with all the cats.  Would you like to see some of them?

Cindy at the Cat Cafe

Cindy at the Cat Cafe

Love these faces

Love these faces

Serious Cat at the Cat Cafe

Serious Cat at the Cat Cafe

TLC at the Cat Cafe

TLC at the Cat Cafe

Cindy at the Cat Cafe

Cindy at the Cat Cafe

Can you tell I love Cats??

Well after our short visit to the Cat Cafe we decided it was time for lunch.  Derek had researched this famous Udon restaurant where the same family had been making noodles for over 130 years.  We took a cab to this street and looked around until we recognized the photo from Derek's research.

Yamacho Ebisu Udon Restaurant

Yamacho Ebisu Udon Restaurant

The name of this restaurant was Yamacho Ebisu.  This place did not disappoint!!!  The food was delicious.  When we left there was a huge line to get in and we understood why!

Udon at Yamacho Ebisu

Udon at Yamacho Ebisu

Derek ate Udon while I enjoyed some delicious cold noodles with two different dipping sauces.

Lunch at Yamacho Ebisu

Lunch at Yamacho Ebisu

The rest of the day was spent with more exploring.  We walked from the restaurant to a street corner in Shibuya where it is said to be the world's busiest intersection.  

Shibuya, Japan

Shibuya, Japan

We walked through many neighborhoods and I saw many familiar places such as L and L barbecue, Don Quiote and Eggs and Things (pictured below).  Our tour guide later told us that many Japanese people think that pancakes come from Hawaii because of Eggs and Things.

Eggs and Things, Tokyo

Eggs and Things, Tokyo

One thing I loved about Japan is that I felt so safe everywhere I went.  With each turn down an unexplored street we'd see so many interesting places.   I also loved seeing people out walking in their Yukata or Kimonos.  Isn't this woman's outfit beautiful?

 Tokyo Fashion

 Tokyo Fashion

As we walked it was quite hot out.  We knew that July was not the best time to visit Japan because of the humidity but since we added this part on to the Stampin' Up! Thailand trip we didn't have a choice.  It was nice when we came across a shave ice stand.  We ordered one to share and it was so delicious and refreshing.  

Getting Shave Ice in Japan

Getting Shave Ice in Japan

Can you tell the texture of the ice was different?  

Delicious Shave Ice in Japan

Delicious Shave Ice in Japan

This shave ice reminded me of a combination of Snow Factory, here on Oahu where the ice is light as a feather and melts in your mouth.  The syrup reminded me of my favorite shave ice place in Kailua called the Local where all the syrups are natural.  This shave ice was made with fresh honeydew melon.  It was delicious and very refreshing on such a hot day.

Even though it was our first official day in a new country, we were already starting to really fall in love with Japan.  We began to get really excited knowing that we would soon be sharing this wonderful experience with friends.

That evening the Loven's arrived at dinner time.  We made plans to meet Miko, our tour guide who would be guiding us around Japan for the next three days.   Miko took us to this wonderful Ramen restaurant.  It was amazing to see how this small restaurant handled our large group and moved everyone to tables in such an orderly way.  This was my first time trying Vegan Ramen filled with fresh vegetables.  It was really delicious.

Vegan Ramen in Japan

Vegan Ramen in Japan

We waited out in front of the hotel that evening to greet the Mahon family when they arrived.  It was fun to feel the excitement of the 10 of us being so thankful to have all made is safely to Japan and ready for a week of adventuring together.

When all of us where together I gave Meg, Lynsay and Miko this little punch art project I made.  

Punch Art Friends Project

Punch Art Friends Project

I thought this little bus was so appropriate since we were going to be tourists that week, adventuring together!  This little bus is actually filled with small post it notes that are shaped like Hawaiian girls.  I created two punch art girls on the topper using a some of our Circle Punches and our Tree Builder Punch.  The sentiment on this project says, "Life is better with Friends" and I couldn't agree more.  

I felt to blessed to be in Japan and to have the opportunity to make new memories with friends knowing that one of the reasons why I was there was because of the amazing prayers from friends who were lifting me up all over the world.  

Well, I have a lot more to share with you....so I'll do that over the next few days as it looks like I will be off my feet for awhile?  You see, in addition to everything else I've been going through yesterday I fractured my left foot.  I'll tell you "how" it happened later but now I will have plenty of time to blog from my couch as I heal.  I also have radiation treatment scheduled to begin on Monday so I'd really appreciate your prayers as I go into this next challenge on crutches.  I hope and pray that my foot will heal and not need a cast or surgery.  But ultimately no matter what, I know my life is not my own.  Everything is in God's hands and I will continue to praise him despite my circumstances.  

Thanks for being patient as I was unable to blog while away but it feels good to be back online and I look forward to sharing "the rest of the story" of our adventures in Japan, Thailand and Korea.

With love, aloha and a grateful heart,

Cindy