It's been about 5 weeks since I was in Japan and not a day goes by that I do not think of going back. In fact, I started to plan my return as soon as I got to NRT on my return home to Toronto.
As some of you know, I was on assignment in Japan — what a dream ! I've done my fair share of destination assignments, but Japan was one that I had never thought I'd check off my bucket list. It was a brutally short trip — 3.5 days not including the flying. Understandibly, I wasted NO time there. I slept very little as the goal was to soak in as much as I can. Normally, I would have planned my days a bit better, but I had so much work leading up to this trip that I did zero research. Thankfully, I had some amazing friends that stepped in and helped me out with my logistics and travel tips. A huge thank you goes out to my amazing friends Lisa, Barry, Yvonne, Jonathan and my travel agent, Beatrice | Travelbee. Without you guys, I would have been lost in translation...
One of the first questions everyone asks me was, "How was the food ?!". Truth be told, I didn't eat much because I was walking around exploring my surroundings for hours and taking it all in that I forgot to eat and drink. Time just flies by when you're having fun. When I did eat, it was a lot of ramen, udon, yakatori and wagyu beef. I didn't eat any sushi sadly. I was all about quick eats so I can get back out to the city.
I'm not going to write a whole bunch for this post. I created this because so many of my family and friends were asking to see photos and I literally took hundreds in my short time there. So, here is how I did Japan in 3.5 days.
I flew JAL from New York. I've heard so much about JAL that I decided to give it a go. Other than Air Canada, I only considered JAL and Singapore Airlines. I wanted to avoid any American airline company like the plague ! It was pretty roomy, so I can't complain. The seats were a little too firm for my liking especially for a long haul. The highlight was definitely flying over Alaska. Wow, what a view !
The first meal there — Ramen. I can't even explain how amazing this was. Even the best ramen in Toronto cannot even compare to 50% of the amazingness of authentic ramen in Japan. My god, I'm salivating !
Everyone who knows me knows I'm a huge UNIQLO fan. I would literally fly to NYC for a day to shop there. Well, there was no shortage of UNIQLO for me when I was in Japan. I hit up probably 5 stores, not including this one at the train station and also the one at the airport. On my last night, I spent a good 3 hours between two of the stores. I bought a new luggage just to fit everything to bring back home. I guess you can say I binged a tad.
Shibuya Crossing — probably one of most famous intersections in the world. I had to experience it. I met my assistant Jessica there and we took pics and videos of the madness. It was crazy how nobody ran into each other. It was almost like a well choreographed dance ! I felt like a freak of a giant there being a foot taller than almost everyone !
Meiji Shrine — I had a small little assignment there for a Shinto wedding and got there a little bit early to scout. What a beautiful place.
Harajuku — I've heard so much about this part of town that I could not pass it up. Saw a lot of weirdness, but hey...different strokes for different folks. I feel like this part of town is where everyone just lets go of their inhibitions. The highlight for me was definitely my visit to Totti Candy. I'm not much of a sweets kinda guy, but their cotton candy was amazing ! I had to get one and send it to my kids. I will definitely have to take them next time.
Off to Kyoto ! This bullet train is for real !!! It was blazing fast... all the videos I took were all distorted because the frame rate could not keep up with the speed of the train. I missed Mount Fuji going to Kyoto because I didn't realize how fast we were going. Oh well... got a decent photo on the way back to Tokyo.
When I arrived in Kyoto, I settled into my accommodations and was so thankful to catch the last day of the lantern festival - Hanatouro. Words cannot describe how beautiful it was... so hopefully my photos will give you an idea.
The real reason for my trip — photographing Emma and Nikki as they say goodbye to Asia one last time before they make the move to Toronto. I couldn't have thought of a better location We had about 1.5 blossomed trees. Oh well, the weather was not on our side, but I had a blast and can't wait to share more soon !
One of the best surprises was hearing two of my couples were in Japan at the same time ! I tried to get together with both sets, but unfortunately, schedules didn't work, but I did get to see Vivian and Arthur ! Jessica and I took the bullet train into Osaka to check out the city. It was very different from what we saw so far. They took us up to the Umeda Sky Building for a gorgeous sunset over Osaka. Then we had some wagyu beef for dinner ! Wow, talk about melting in your mouth ! *drool.
Alas... Mount Fuji. So beautiful. I'll be back soon, Japan.
All images and content © 2016 Joee Wong | Photographer