Before really diving into this blog, I will be soon releasing many of my prints for sale on the website and will update you when they're available.
Anyways, Japan. What. An. Experience.
1/3/2018 - 79 days left
We departed out of Vancouver International Airport Wednesday, Jan. 3 still not expecting what the three of us were getting our post-graduate selves into. Throughout the flight we all were still not “ready” for this trip as we kept on saying jokingly. But it wasn’t until we saw the first sight of land after 8 hours of flying where it really sunk in that we have embarked on an 80-day voyage around the world.
1/4/2018 - 78 days left
Upon landing, we were faced with our first challenge: getting out of the airport. Now this seems like a simple task, but after walking back and forth for 15 minutes, checking maps and finding symbols we recognize, we finally found a cab to take us to our hostel in Tokyo.
Since this is more of a photo blog, I’ll spare the details from the cab ride to getting settled into our hostel and get straight to Sinjuku.
After settling in at Kaisu Hostel, we took it to Google Maps and began to navigate around the concrete jungle. After taking two subway lines, we found ourselves in the belly of the beast: Shibuya. You might have recognized iconic photos from this crosswalk as one of the most popular areas in all of Tokyo.
After shooting photos in the crosswalk and taking in the amazing views of what I called “Times Square on steroids,” we pulled out Yelp and looked up the best ramen we could find near us. Little did we know, we wound up at Ichiran Ramen, one of the top rated ramen restaurants in all of Japan. It was heaven in a bowl. If you end up getting lost in translation (no pun intended), I highly recommend trying it for yourself.
1/5/2018 - 77 days left
The next day we decided to make our way out to the historic Tsukiji Fish Market.
We walked down narrow alleys packed with thousands of people buying from the local vendors. I was fascinated – I’ve never seen anything like it. The area was endless with people vending anything from seafood products to cheap souvenirs similar to those you'd find on Canal Street in New York. For those familiar with my hometown of Seattle, imagine Pike Place Market but double the size, triple the people and quadruple the energy.
That night we decided to hit the Roppongi District… and let’s just say a $500 bottle of champagne was bought and I’ll leave that there. We never went back to Roppongi.
1/6/2018 - 76 days left
Waking up hungover in Tokyo wasn’t on our agenda but it didn’t set us back as we decided to make a trip to the world’s largest tower standing at 625 meters: Tokyo Skytree. We took the elevator straight to the top and as soon as the extra large elevator doors opened, everyone gasped in awe of the view we were seeing.
After sightseeing for over an hour, we made our way down and took the metro train back to our hostel to pack up for Kyoto in the morning.
1/7/2018 - 75 days left
We awoke at 6 a.m. and immediately headed to grab our rental car since we had a long journey ahead of us. Our original plan was to take the famous bullet train but we didn't realize that the total cost of that was way too much for our bank account to handle. About 2.5 hours into the trip to Kyoto, we made it to our first pit stop at the Chureito Pagoda. For years, I have dreamed of going to this Mt. Fuji lookout and crossing off a photography bucket list of mine.
Following the Pagoda, we drove to Lake Kawaguchi for another scenic view of Mt. Fuji.
Since it was directly on our path toward Kyoto and because it has been in the headlines lately, we decided to go visit Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees or to some as the suicide forest. Unlike what you might think of the place through the media and the recent news through Youtuber Logan Paul, we were walking through a beautiful and dense forest hike to another lookout of Mt. Fuji.
After our small detours in Fuji, we got back on the road and headed to Kyoto.
After several more hours of driving, we finally made it to Kyoto and got settled in at our next hostel, Gojo Guest House, which had more of a traditional Japanese style layout.
1/8/2018 - 74 days left
We started the day looking at a map our host gave us, marked with the dozens of shrines and temples scattered throughout the historical city. Tokyo's old capital had a ton to offer and after some research, we quickly made our way to the small district west of Kyoto, Arishiyama. It was more or less of a shopping area with nice homes surrounding it, settled next to the Katsura River. The main attraction we had to go see however was the world famous bamboo grove – another bucket list photo moment for me.
The rain started to come down and we quickly made our way to our next stop, Nishiki Market. The corridor style market, which panned five city blocks was filled with over 100 restaurants and shops.
The rain really started coming down now and we ran back to our car to make it to our final stop of the day: Fushimi Inari Taisha. This shrine was filled with hundreds of red-orange gates and even though it was pouring raining, it was still quite the site to see.
We made it back to our hostel after the full day of exploration and packed as we were heading back to Tokyo the next morning.
1/9/2018 - 73 Days Left
Before we decided to head off to Tokyo, we decided to go check out Ginkaku-ji, a zen temple in the eastern part of Kyoto. After spending roughly 45 minutes here walking around and admiring the old ancient architecture, we went back into the car and drove back to Tokyo.
Before going back to Tokyo, we decided to make one pit-stop at the world famous Fuji Speedway in Oyama. Not knowing it was open or not we drove through the gates and made our way up through the empty roads in what seemed to be us driving into a closed and restricted area... until we heard tires screeching. We eventually followed the noise until we found a large group of drifters at a small drift event at one of the tracks above the main speedway. Evan, being a drifter himself, was in awe and mesmerized by all the cars - most of which aren't even allowed to be in the States yet. After around 20 minutes of watching them drift, we headed to the actual speedway where we took in a beautiful sunset with Mt. Fuji in the background. After taking in everything and Evan getting some of the drifters Instagram's, we headed out and finished the last two hours back to Tokyo.
1/10/2018 - 72 Days Left
On our last full day in Tokyo, we decided to go to Shibuya once more and take last minute photos in the famous crosswalk. After snapping the last few photos in the area, we went out to a few shopping places before returning to the hostel. Back there we looked up something to do for our final night in the city. Jackson ended up finding this place called Bar High Five, which is rated one of the worlds best bars. So naturally, we go ball out on some fancy cocktails. Upon entry, we are greeted and have to read rules, some of which are no photos, phones on silent and no groups more than four. Luckily we are a group of four and we got a table where we were greeted by a bartender from New Orleans. The bar has no menu. You only say what style, flavor, type of drink you like and they make a cocktail based on your taste buds. It was something I've never experienced before and was amazed at all the drinks we received. We went home that night very satisfied and packed for our flight to Queenstown.