Postcards from Japan – part one

Hiya! Not-so-small daughter here, home from Japan!

I have had an amazing time on my travels, and I think we definitely managed to squeeze plenty in to two weeks!

It started off with a very long time in the air with a 7-hour journey to Dubai, a 6-hour layover in Dubai and then another 9 hours to Tokyo, and then one more hour on a silent train to our first hotel.  (It really was silent, they had announcements telling you where the only places you were allowed to talk were!)  We then arrived in Asakusa and dragged our suitcases over the Sumida River in 30-degree heat at 9:30pm with the Tokyo Skytree lit up in the distance.

A tall building lit up against the night sky

We were very quickly met in Japan by their abundance of vending machines, and it is safe to say they received a lot of our money for a cold bottle of water!  We spent the rest of our evening with a stop to a 7/11 (a franchise that also received a lot of our money over the weeks) and rested in our rooms of four people for the rest of the evening for the packed days we had ahead of us.

A vending machine containing drinks

The next morning, we left with an early start, lathered in layers of suncream ready for UV rays of 11, and hopped on the Tokyo metro to Tsukiji Fish Market, the start of our introduction to their food so different from ours. One of my friends and I ate grilled little octopi, and it was an experience.

A man is using a blow torch to cook seafood at an outdoor food stall

We also went into a coffee shop, announced on their sign to be one loved by John Lennon, so I didn’t feel quite so far from home in this moment. From there we had a long walk during which we attempted to adjust to the heat (and didn’t quite as well as we thought we might’ve done)

A large free-standing menu outside a cafe. The words on the menu say that John Lennon loved to visitand went to teamLab Planets Tokyo, an immersive museum where you walk through water, in rooms of mirrors or rooms made up of cushions or squishy light up balls, each with an explanation of the exhibition at the end. It was incredible.

The entrance to Teamlab Planets Two photos showing the visual effects inside Teamlab Planets

That evening, we went to Tokyo Bay, saw their own Statue of Liberty, and went out for a meal for one of the girls on our trip’s birthday, before heading back to our hotel.

The next day we walked around The Imperial Palace’s gardens, which were so incredible. I don’t think I’d quite realised how massive koi fish are up close! They had big, tall walls with stories of how they were guard towers that protected the palace. It was so fascinating to imagine.

Large golden Koi fish in a pond

After that we ventured further with our Tokyo Metro passes and visited Harajuku and the famous shopping street of Takeshita. Harajuku was also the place that we spent half an hour in a café with MINI PIGS! We went to Tokyo’s MiPig Café to sit and have little pigs play around us. There was a small brown one named Taco with a little backpack who had me wondering if anyone would notice if I tried to put him in my hand luggage.

A tiny pig in an orange jacket eating from a bowl

On our journey home that evening, we held very tightly onto each other’s hands or bags or t-shirts as we tried to find our way back to our hotel through the Sumida River Fireworks Festival, Tokyo’s oldest and most iconic fireworks show dating back to 1733! So as you can imagine, it was very popular and quite difficult to navigate 20 Girl Guides back to a hotel, but we managed! And saw the end of the display, which has the name of most iconic fireworks for a reason.

The next day, we went to Tokyo Skytree! The lift went up over 400m in about 50 seconds and then another 100m in 30 seconds! The view at the top was amazing and it was very amusing to try and spot our hotel from all the way up there.

An information board showing the size of the Tokyo Skytree tower

We had our lunch there and most of us experienced our first proper ramen in Japan, which was sooo good, and then we had to quickly make our way back to the metro to go and meet Japanese Girl Scouts! It was such an wonderful experience meeting them and, despite the language barrier, we all attempted half Japanese, half English conversations and still had a lot of fun. We were introduced to new games, did some origami, had a tea ceremony in this proper tea ceremony room they just had next to their main hall (which I thought was so cool) and we swapped charms and food and they were introduced to Randoms and Grasmere Gingerbread (which doesn’t seem nearly as interesting as the food we were given) but soon it was time to go and we waved goodbye to our new friends and made our way back to the metro.

The following day, our final day in Tokyo, was our day in Tokyo Disney Sea Resort! Completely oblivious to signs, my friend and I began our early morning there drenched, as we somehow managed to miss the “Now doing our ‘get completely soaked’ version” sign on the ride, but it kept us cool for the few minutes before the baking heat completely dried us. The wait times were surprisingly short, and my friend and I managed to get on more rides than we thought we’d be able to. I experienced my first loop rollercoaster ride and we went on Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage twice (which we later found out was a ride exclusive to Tokyo Disney Sea)! Although we mostly had no idea what was going on rides that involved a lot of storytelling as neither of us speak Japanese, the rides were still amazing, we managed to get drenched more than once, which you would think we would’ve considered going to a place with ‘sea’ in the name, and I spent more than I’d care to admit on the coolest popcorn bucket ever, we still had a brilliant time.

A square Monsters Inc popcorn bucket

The following day, we were up early again, but with suitcases as we made our way to our first journey on the Shinkansen (the bullet train) to Kyoto! Just escaping a thunderstorm, this train journey was amazing! It had such incredible views that I felt like I was journeying through My Neighbor Totoro as we went over miles of fields and countryside.

A view of Kyoto countryside through a round train window

We arrived at our new hotel in Kyoto and then walked to the Gion District for our food. We have no idea what restaurant 5 of my friends and I went into but it was the best food I had on this trip. They were like platters of food and a few of my friends had meat in theirs and it came on its own little stove and it was so delicious, I still think about it.

Plates of food on a restaurant table

Next day, we visited the Kyoto Gyoen National Gardens (which were beautiful, Japan have some seriously good gardeners) before we went to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The bamboo was so tall and as you were walking threw them it felt like all the sound was a lot more condensed, as if I was talking inside of a room! We visited the temple near the grove and then we had shaved ice (possibly not something I’ll be trying again) before heading back to our hotel.

Bamboo stems reaching up into the sky


Come back tomorrow for more Postcards from Japan!



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22 Responses

  1. Jacqui says:

    Wow! I can’t wait for the next installment. Thanks very much for the tour so far. It’s clear to see that you had a brilliant time. It certainly looks as though it lived up to your expectations.

  2. Fiona says:

    what a fantastic adventure.Cant wait for next one

  3. Karen says:

    It all sounds amazing! I’m so pleased that you had this wonderful opportunity.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  4. Elizabeth Cox says:

    I felt exhausted reading but full of interest and insight. Looking forward to the next part. Thank you for sharing all these experiences.

  5. Tagati says:

    Domo arigato! Brings back memories of my childhood (I was born in Iwakuni to a Japanese mother and a Seabee father) and the last trip I made with my mother and aunt. Our family home is in Morioka, but we spent time with various relatives during that trip.

  6. Yvonne says:

    Amazing – as a Queens Guide myself I am so happy that Girls have the opportunities to share such amazing travel experiences – well done for all the hard work you undertook to get to Japan and for letting us share yo your truly amazing experience. So looking to hearing the next intake ent and to more photos X

  7. Caz Abbinett says:

    wow! what an amazing time you had!! Looking forward to the next installment 🥰

  8. Ruth Howard says:

    Fabulous- well done you – very interesting- thanks for sharing x

  9. Michele Kenvin says:

    What a well written and interesting piece!
    It sounds like such a wonderful experience and you’ve described it all so beautifully!

  10. Melinda Gallagher says:

    Fascinating! Thank you for sharing with us!

  11. Corinne says:

    What an amazing adventure!! You told your story so well I’m sure your mum is very proud of you. Everything looked really interesting and I’m pleased you had such a wonderful time. Thanks for the lovely photos. 😍

  12. Liz Hirst says:

    What an amazing trip with so many unusual experiences that you will remember for ever, look forward to reading more and seeing your pictures

  13. Jenny says:

    Thank you for sharing your trip with us. I really think the gods were looking after you when you missed out on the trip to South Korea. Japan sounds amazing!

  14. Mary Ann Landmesser says:

    Never been to Japan so I appreciated the tour — amazing place. Glad you were able to experience this and able to share it. Thank you so much!

  15. Susan Miller says:

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time and what a great description of your time travelling around glad you had the opportunity to go to this fantastic country.

    • Susan Rayner says:

      I did a double take seeing your name – I was a Susan Miller from birth – Miller is my maiden name. Love from another Susan x

  16. Audrey says:

    what an amazing adventure that must have been .photos are great

  17. Jane Carpenter says:

    I visited Japan in 2017 and your post brought back so many fabulous and exhausting memories! Looking forward to your second instalment. Thank you

  18. Susan Rayner says:

    What a fantastic trip and so well described. I will be waiting to hear from Christine about a mini pig joining the family soon. xx

  19. SARAH MURRAY says:

    Wow what an amazing experience and amazing phots. Thanks for sharing them. I had never thought of going to Japan before but you make me want to go. Looking forward to the next installment. xxx

  20. Mandi Brooks says:

    You obviously had a wonderful time and packed in some great experiences – I am blown away by the mini pig cafe though, don’t think I would ever have left!!!

  21. Susan Brandwood says:

    Wow! Sounds wonderful and so full of amazing memories. Reminds me of when my son went to Japan with the Explorers. Lovely photos.😍

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