Isn’t it amazing the twists and turns of life?!
Tokyo was always on my “Travel Experience” list but never did I think the opportunity would fall into my lap in the fashion that it did. It literally came outta nowhere or let’s say on my mobile by way of a friend who was planning a trip there from Singapore and wanted me to accompany them….flight, accommodations covered! Now could I really say “no” to that?
So the journey began!
I made the 13 hour nonstop flight to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport from Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International airport. Let me say this, upon arrival and getting through immigration this was probably the first time in my travels where I did NOT speak nor comprehend the language in any way lol!
In any case I had absolutely no plans for my voyage to Tokyo, just wander, explore and stumble upon things as much as possible. Not only did I wander and stumble, I got off the beaten path and found myself lost-but-not-lost wandering aimlessly which took me on a totally unexpected adventure (don’t you love those moments?).
Two homeboys in Tokyo. I tell you Hip Hop is universal lol!
What happened is while shopping and walking around, I got separated from my friend but luckily I had my train pass so I attempted (successfully) to make my way back to the station closest to the Mandarin Oriental (an amazing hotel and my accommodations for the stay….ooh I was smaller in size then – 2011 I might add).
The train system in Tokyo is pretty user friendly so after stopping for a bite and stumbling upon a Lush store which I had to pry myself out of, I made my way back to the train station. Tokyo’s most prominent train line is the JR Yamanote Line, a loop line which connects Tokyo’s multiple city centers. The city’s 13 subway lines are operated by two companies and run largely inside the Yamanote circle and the areas around Ginza and Shitamachi.
Train station in Tokyo
When I tell you it was one adventure after the other. I purchased a little trinket for myself from a jewelry store (no not Mikimotos which I have a pictures of) and while wandering around again, I somehow misplaced the gift bag with said ring in it. We had to trace our steps on a ring-in-bag-seeking mission not knowing where we stopped, turned or possibly plopped the bag down. Lucky for me, after tracking a few invisible bread crumbs marking our steps we stopped off in this side store and voila’ the store worker had the bag at the register. How in the world did I leave an entire piece of jewelry in a bag in the store??? (I can be absentminded at times.)
Besides that little hiccup and me getting separated and having to find my way back the trip itself was one for the books. I ran into a Krispy Kreme – if anyone knows me they know my total addiction with the sweets. I learned (i.e figured out how) to eat soup without any silverware. I was able to spend an evening at one of the “Best 100 Bars in the world” – The Star Bar Ginza which proved itself to be a pretty cool spot. We saw a few tricks (need to locate the footage) and got pretty ‘warmed up’ if I do say so myself.
The Star Bar Ginza
Yoshi the bartender who was real cool
An ice trick that has won awards – so he says
Bartender at the Star Bar Ginza
All in all, I accomplished what I wanted as part of my invitation and purpose and the experience was and is forever ingrained in my memory bank of travels and adventures. I’d always wanted to make my way to Tokyo and now that I have I can say that I would gladly do a return journey as well.
Minus me almost missing my flight while enroute to the airport – yeah so I’m on the train headed to the airport in plenty time for the 2 hr check-in and I get a call from Delta’s automated system stating the flight has changed. Come again? So I’m on the train to Narita trying to reach Delta’s skymiles hotline meanwhile my phone is blowing up with messages about my flight BOARDING as I’m on the train near the airport. When I finally got someone on the horn I was told that there was an error and my flight will be departing as scheduled. As luck would have it, when I got to the gate, we were delayed.
As if that wasn’t enough once I finally arrived back in Atlanta, CNN was reporting the Earthquake Tsunami that hit Japan which led to all my friends and family calling me to see if I’d made it home. It was truly one of those moments where I had to question my purpose because that was about as close a call as any I’ve ever had.
Enjoy the slide show of my special moments from my Tokyo experience!
Doumo arigatou gozaimasu!