Category Archives: Japan

Let’s Go To Asia – Travel Video

27th September 2015

So as the astute among you may have noticed, we are already finished with our trip. We are in lovely Australia. I still have a few posts about our trip to come, but I recently finished editing this little video together and couldn’t wait to share it.

So here is just a few of the best parts of our trip:

Our South East Asia Grand Tour – One Month Re-cap

22nd April 2015

I can’t believe that we’ve been traveling for a month. It feels like yesterday I was excitedly posting on Facebook that we had one month to go before we left Korea. Now we have seen 5 countries, 12 cities, 11 planes, 5 trains, an endless amount of buses and more delicious foods that you can shake my ever growing belly at.

So what have we been up to? I realise I have been trying to update you all slowly but here is a quick recap for those of you who, like me, are partial to the odd list.


8 Japan

Kyoto – One of the places I most wanted to visit when moving to Asia. It didn’t disappoint. Geisha sightings, delicious markets and bamboo forests made this place unforgettable.

kyoto2_5 Best part of the trip: Feeding the Japanese snow monkeys in Arashiyama monkey park

Best tasty treat : Our first try of Okonomiyaki


10 Nara –  An adorable small city where deers rule the roost and temples are abundant.

Best part of the trip : Getting up close and personal with the deers.

Best tasty treat:  Green tea ice cream


sorry...had to do it

sorry…had to do it

Osaka – A fast paced city full of bright lights and active locals.

Best part of the trip: Seeing the bright lights of Dottonbori

Worst part of the trip: Getting our plane turned around after we left Japan for an unexpected extra night in the city. Although not the worst city to get stuck in.


12 The Philippines

Manila – We only stopped off here for the airport but we did it 4 times so it feels silly not to include it.

Best part of the airport (apart from leaving it) :  WENDY’S!

11 Boracay – Absolutely stunning which makes it even more annoying that its been swamped by tauts and con men that run up and down every inch of this spectacular beach.

Best part of the trip: Discovering the quieter areas of the beaches for ‘downers’…or sunset cocktails.

Worst part : Hiding from the sun even though I love it so and getting pick pocketed by our waiter and his accomplice.

23 Bohol – Beautiful chocolate hills and lovely quiet villages.

Best part of the trip: Seeing the Tarsiers

Worst part: Lee getting horrible food poisoning/parasite that would stay with him for 10 days.

13 El Nido – Beautiful beaches, glorious sunsets and island hopping

Best part of the trip: Snorkling for the first time and being utterly lazy.

Worst part: I got hit by the evil food poisoning/parasite here that knocked me for 6.

15 China

Guagzhou – a bustling city on the up.

Best part : Seeing the Canton Tower and the great area surrounding it.

Best tasty treat: A tiramisu latte from the Hello Kitty cafe.

4 Guilin – A small town surrounded by the Chinese mountains.

Best part of the trip: Visiting the Longji rice terraces

15 Yangshuo – A small village hidden in the mountains with an almost Mediterranean feel.

Best part : The incredible mountains we saw on our river cruise.

Tastiest treat: Coconut and champagne ice cream from a street seller

Best bargain: A blue and white porcelain bracelet for £2

18 Hong Kong –

A bright, exciting mix of British culture ,Chinese food and tradition.

Best part: ALL OF IT, especially celebrating our 10 year anniversary here.

Worst part: our wallets are much lighter now

Tastiest treat: The legendary ‘Skirt Burger’ from The Diner

The Stats

Average spent on hotels per night: £4 per person

Average spent on food and drink: £15 per day but this was the expensive part of our trip with Japan and Hong Kong taking a large part of our money.

Average puppies hugged: 2 a day (it’s definitely puppy season in Asia)

Amount of local beers drank: faaar too many

Photos taken: it’s best to not think about it but I’m glad I bought my hard drive.


What’s up next? I hear you cry…well maybe you didn’t cry that but i’m going to tell you anyway. Our next month has a trip through Vietnam where we are spending 3 weeks exploring all it has to offer and then we are hoping over to Cambodia to see those famous temples and get our beach fix. Fingers crossed it will be as fun as the first month…just maybe a little cheaper.





Nara – oh Deer oh Deer

17th March 2015

banner Oh Nara, you beautiful little place you. I’m not going to lie to you all, we went to Nara for one reason and one reason only….Deer. We love animals and any excuse to be close to them – when they are treated fairly – is a good with us. 19
Nara is a small city on the outskirts of both Kyoto and Osaka. Many hundreds of years ago it was the old capital of Japan. Deer are a sacred and lucky animal so this area of Japan has never hurt or hunted them, subsequently the deer roam free around this beautiful small place. 9 18
We hopped on a train and after only a few minutes we had our first deer sighting.
At first we thought it was a statue since it was so still but we soon realised that this creature just inches from us was real. Our eyes adjusted to see all the deer littering the path ahead. People were selling food at 150yen per 5 rice cakes and we bought quite a few. The deer were friendly but not above giving you a little ‘butt’ for attention. 1 2 3
The most impressive thing about the deer was their bowing skills. Yes, they bow! They have learnt that bobbin their head gets you to feed them. It’s stupidly impressive and we were suckers for it. 12 13 16 50
We didn’t just see deer in Nara. We also saw the largest sitting bronze Buddha in the world which was incredible . It was a little pricey to get in but well worth it (I think it was 600 yen) . The most bizarre part of the day (yes, more bizarre than frolicking with deer) was queuing up to crawl through a hole. In one of the pillars of the shrine is a small hole that can barely fit a human. It is said that crawling through this pillar will being you luck and love for life. Since I am the small one in this team I decided it was my job to have a go. I was sure I wouldn’t fit but I huffed and puffed my way and within seconds I was through. It was a weird way to spend an afternoon but a fun one. 5 6 8 15
We strolled the parks of Nara and the alleys full of shops and headed back to Osaka.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the trip but I really enjoyed the place and would recommend this day trip to anyone. It was a quiet area so I’m not sure we could have found things to do for more than a day but if you want some peace and quiet this is the place to go. 14 11 signature


Osaka – Running men and Rainy Days

16th March 2015

banner So today Lee and I flew out of japan…and then flew back an hour later. Our flight to Manilla was turned around after a faulty windscreen wiper of all things. It is better to be safe than sorry of course but a missed connection flight and a hotel we have to pay for that we won’t use is annoying on a tight budget like ours. Jetstar don’t have a great reputation for paying people compensation but we can only wait and hope they will help us, if we ever get to Manilla that is.
On the plus side,I get to type to you lovely people.
So what have we been up to for the last few days? Osaka and Nara is what we’ve been up to.
I was very excited to find Lee did to know much about Osaka so I got to show him the bright lights of Dotonbori that I’d heard so much about. Including of course the Osaka ‘running man’. Dotonbori is the restaurant, shopping and bar hub of Osaka. Streets and streets of the weird and the wonderful.

sorry...had to do it

sorry…had to do it

3 2 5 10 11
We accidentally stumbled upon Kurmon Ichiba market where we filled up on Tempura and Takoyaki (octopus balls) and we had a few drinks in Minami (very very near Dotonbori) in a bar called ‘Bar Moon Walk’ where after you pay the 400 yen cover charge all drinks are 210 yen ,which in Osaka is a great deal.My favourite was a Sake concoction called ‘Welcome to Japan’…very fitting.

1 We took in some culture on a rainy day and saw the legendary Osaka castle and wandered the museum inside. It was impressive and a little bit scary to imagine the battles that had taken place on that very ground. It was a horrible day but the castle did cheer it up a bit. On the bright side it also meant every shrine and temples were empty.
If Kyoto is the quiet , refined part of Japan then Osaka is the loud local who lives to run around and get things done. Compared to Tokyo Osaka feels lived in.
If I was to come to Japan again I think I may give Osaka a miss, not because it’s not beautiful but it is a functional city and we did a lot in 2 and a half days. We did also got to squeeze in a half day trip to Nara but the sheer loveliness of that place requires a whole post to itself.
As I write this we are still no clearer if we will ever leave Japan, but as much as I hate this airport right now (where are the cheap fast food places??? ) I loved Japan and we are already planning our return.



Kyoto – Day 3 – A Gold and Orange Day

7th March 2015

banner After a busy day traveling around Kyoto we were ready for some serene temples on day 3. We got up early and took the bus  to The Golden Temple (Kikakuji – michi) and took about 40 mins.(details at the bottom of the page).  When we arrived we were met with the beautiful gold foil building once owned by aristocrats but ‘acquired’ by an Ashikaga Shogun  after his death it was turned in a temple. Lee tried to explain what a Shoegun was to me for a long time but in the end he just found it easier to say they were old Japanese Gangsters. I realise historians out there may be shaking your head in anger at that blase reference but for my simple mind it helped. You can’t enter the building but it was a lovely sight to behold. Lee didn’t know what we were going to see so he was extremely impressed by the view that met him. 8 9 We wandered the grounds and walked to the near by shrine. Here you can buy a candle for what ever wish you may have. I think it said a lot about humans that the only candles that were sold out were ‘Let me find love’. We went for the ‘keep my family safe’ candle. We aren’t Shinto Buddhists but it is always better to be safe than sorry…right? 7 5 6

At this point we both noticed a fortune machine. These fortunes cost 100 yen and can be found at some shrines in a vending machine style box. This shrine is so popular than they had an English option. We aren’t superstitious but we both ran to the box hoping to find out what lay ahead. We got one each and luckily we both got excellent ones…..apart from the travel section, which was ….um…. less than comforting. Ahh well you can’t win them all. 4

After that it was back to Kyoto station before getting a train to Inari. Here we could see something i’ve been looking forward to seeing for a long time, The Fushimi Inari Shrine, or as you may know them, the orange gates. I didn’t know much about these gates until my friends visited and I saw their lovely pictures but these gates are all owned by businesses and have been there for hundreds of years (since 1589 infact), they are meant to bring good luck to the people named on them. We decided that if we were going to do it, we’d do it right and ended up walking the entire route of the gates, we have to earn all our sushi and noodles some how! The loveliest part of the walk was arriving at small family shrines. People come and honor their ancestors. A lot of the time they honor them with a shot of sake. There were lots of little glasses of sake open for the ancestors to enjoy. These Japanese ancestors must be able to handle their liquor with the amount of sake they had left for them. I have now requested the same when I kick the bucket, but maybe a bottle of wine instead…or ten. 3 11

It was a tiring day but we rewarded ourselves with a trip to Nishiki market where we ate far too many delicious things. We still haven’t quite mastered waiting to eat the octopus balls (or Takoyaki) once they cool down since we are too greedy so at the moment they are all octopus napalm to us. The squid on a stick was a particular weird edition to my palette but it was still really tasty. 2 1

And that was it, we headed back to our hotel shattered and ready to head to Osaka the next day…..but we had to do one more thing before we left. We had to try the in-room Karaoke. The remote luckily had English and we embarrassingly sang the night away while jumping on the bed and drinking cherry beer. We assume the room was sound proofed since no one complained. We had far too much fun. My new life mission is to now have noreabang (Korean karaoke but in a private room) in my own house. In hindsight 4am may have been a tad too long to sing until….opphs. Aww well , in the words of our friend Emmett we definitely ‘smashed’ Kyoto. 10

How to get to the Golden Pavillion  (Kikakuji – michi) :

We took the 205 bus from Kyoto station, which was located on stand B3. There was also a bus running from stand B2 that took you there (number 101). It cost us 230 yen and weirdly in Japan you seem to pay for the bus as you are getting off so make sure you have the right change or a Icc charge card. When you get off the bus you can just follow the crowd but its on your left and a short way up the hill. It costs 480 yen (about 3 pound) to get in.


How to get to The Fushimi Inari Shrine:

We traveled from Kyoto station and got a train to Inari. As soon as you exit the station you will see the large orange shrine. It’s hard to miss. We didn’t have to pay to get in which was an added bonus.


Kyoto – Day 2 – Geishas, Monkeys & a Forest of Bamboo

4th March 2015

banner Today was a day we’ve been waiting for. Today we visited the Bamboo forest in Arasiyama and the Arasiyama Monkey Park (Iwatayama).
Lee, who has dubbed our holiday ‘The Great Monkey Marathon’ loves animals but monkeys and apes in fact all simians are his favourite.
We set off from Kyoto station to the Saga Arashiyama station via the JR line . Once we hopped off the train there were signs everywhere so even we didn’t get lost, and soon enough the towers of bamboo were in front of us.

11 12 kyoto2_7 The bamboo forest was fantastic. Towering stalks that filled the area with the smell of wood and greenery. When the wind blew we could hear the wood gently knocking all around us…that and Lee singing ‘The old bamboo’ from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which we realised we only knew one line too.  It was fantastic. The tourists around did detract from the peace and calm but we went quite early and avoided huge crowds. It was free to enter, which helped our puny budget. kyoto2_8 kyoto2_9 kyoto2_10
Then it was over the magnificent river to the monkey forest. On the walk to the forest we had to pause and  take in the sights. This place really is stunning. Many Japanese people seem to come to visit Kyoto to experience the traditions and a lot of them wear the traditional Kimonos. It’s great to see them dressed up everywhere. These three girls asked us if we wanted to take a pictures of them and we jumped at the chance. They also wanted pics of us with them but for the life of me I have no idea why. I’ve talked to people who live in Korea who worry about visiting Japan because it could be ever so slightly similar but I can’t explain how different these two countries are. If you are in two minds, ignore the doubt and come now! Especially to Kyoto. 15 17
All this excitement was had even before we scaled monkey mountain , which is a little steep to start with but not a very long walk at all. I think older people would be ok if they did it slowly and wore trainers… if Lee and I can do it, anyone can.
Our first glimpse of a monkey was when it was on the path up ahead. It was so close. We sat for far too long, just excited to be near them. When we actually made it to the top viewing area we were surrounded by these lovely cute creatures. In the feeding room we bought some apples and peanuts for 100 yen (about 50p) and expected the money’s to grab and attack for the food but they were patient and kind. Just touching their soft little hands to feed them was thrilling. After about an hour or more we forced ourselves down the mountain both agreeing it was one of the best things we’d ever done. Lee didn’t steal a monkey but I can see he was tempted.

kyoto2 kyoto2_2 kyoto2_3 kyoto2_4 kyoto2_5 kyoto2_6

We only had the two sights we really wanted to see, which left us lots of time to wander and discover. We headed back into Kyoto city and stumbled upon a restaurant just outside the Kawaramachi station. It was called ‘Mr Young Men’ and their cook filled our bellies with ramen and Takoyaki (octopus ball covered in egg). Before coming to Japan Lee swore he hated Japanese food. I tried many times to convince him he just needed to try it. Luckily he dipped his toe into the Japanese food bonanza and now I think I’ll never get him back out of the pool of Takoyaki and Teriyaki. 14

Once we had rolled ourselves out of there we found ourselves on Pontocho alley. Famous for Geishas and its old history rooted in the nightlife. It was just after dusk and although in the back of my mind I was hoping to spot a Geisha on the backstreets I knew that the chances on a Wednesday were slim…but just up ahead we saw two beautiful ladies who stood out from all the lovely Japanese tourists wearing their kimonos. In front of us was two elegant Maiko or apprentice Geisha’s. I could have taken a photo but it was such a great moment that I just watched them with Lee. I have seen online how much they are hounded and I didn’t want to be one of those people. They seemed to see the camera around my neck and nodded in appreciation, but then again that could just have been in my tiny excited mind.

13 16 So that was our day. Filled with Monkeys, Bamboo and Geishas in Gion. I am not sure we could have had a more Japanese day if we tried. Tomorrow we are planning on a trip to the Fushimi Onari-taisha shrine (or the orange gates to anyone who is clueless like I was until I just looked up the name on Google)

I am shocked that I have managed to write two days in a row but this jacuzzi bath in the hotel makes it very easy to find reasons to relax and write. Let’s see how long I can keep this up…


Kyoto – Day 1 – Jacuzzis and Squid

3rd March 2015

banner Well we did it. After a few crazy weeks that have melted into a blur of to-do lists and organisation we have finally left Korea. Once we worked our last days in our offices and received some lovely gifts we had to move out of our little flat and become homeless, jobless bums for a few days. Luckily we have a good group of people who put us up for a few days. Days  filled with house wine and slumber parties.
Then it was a serious of teary goodbyes, some of which took places at a train station platform which was heart wrenching while others took place at the airport while boarding our flight. I’ve never waved goodbye to someone as I walked onto a plane, as expected it was bitter sweet. I have been annoyed at myself for the last two years because while saying goodbyes to people I haven’t cried. I cry just thinking about the first few minutes of UP so it is especially weird when I didn’t cry watching my best friends walk away. I have had a stone in my stomach and felt horrible but tears refused to fall. That was until I sat down on the plane and two years of happy memories overwhelmed me. I listened to the songs we had all become use to and made my own special montages with my memories. Jeez, we have been lucky in Korea.
But now we are moving on to a crazy new adventure, and this adventure happens to start in Japan. We are currently sat in our bizarre hotel in Kyoto which can only be described as a weirdo’s sex den. We found a really cheap room through at the Grand Fine hotel that had a Jacuzzi bath and was well situated so we couldn’t say no. What we discovered when we arrived was that the hotel had written the line ‘not a family hotel’ on the booking form for a reason. A phone in the room to shout for call girls, a special refrigerator to buy lingerie and a ‘back massager’ were all part of the deal…oh also did I mention we have a full size slot machine, a wall projector and KARAOKE in the room?!? I am not complaining. There are certain things in the room I will not be touching but the price fitted and the fun of it all is surely what everyone expects when coming to Japan , and I mean that in the best way possible. kyotoday1_1 kyotoday1_2 kyotoday1_10
After a bumpy ride with Peach air we got the JR to Kyoto and explored the area. We had our first taste of Okonomiyaki, which is a fried batter, cabbage and squid. We also added some pork to be sneaky.  It’s sweet and delicious. A new favourite for us both. This was accompanied by the ever popular Yaki Soba noodles. Our bellies are happy. kyotoday1_3 kyotoday1_4 kyotoday1_5 kyotoday1_7
We didn’t venture out tonight since sleeping on friends floors has taken it’s toll but tomorrow it is a bright new day filled with temples, monkeys and bamboo forests….and hopefully more okonomiyaki. The rest of my night is Jacuzzi baths, fruit beers and keylime pie cheesecakes. Japan I’m never leaving! kyotoday1_8 kyotoday1_9
So its さようなら from us (or sayonara/goodbye if like us you don’t speak a lick of Japanese) . I would love to promise I will write on here every day but we all know thats not true but I will try my best to keep you updated (Hi Mum) and so that I don’t let those little memories run away from me. I have the memory of a gold fish with amnesia.


Tokyo Arcade

2015 Travel Plans

19th February 2015

So I think I owe you all an apology. For the last few weeks i’ve become a little bit obsessed with my up coming plans to the point that I have kept mentioning it without giving any details.

So I thought that I’d share with you some of the things we’re hoping to achieve over the next year.

First, there are to-do lists…EVERYWHERE. My flat looks like a bombs dropped because there are about ten jobs going on at once but I’m hoping that it will all fall into place really soon and we will be ready to roll.

First I suppose it’s important to share with you what our plans actually are so here is our 2015 travel plans:

Tokyo Arcade Japan

Japan is somewhere magical to me. It’s a place mentioned in movies not a place that exists. When we went to Tokyo last year I was in my element and I fell in love with the place. Last night I was chatting to a friend who’s going to Tokyo soon and I couldn’t stop gushing about how much fun they were going to have. This time around we aren’t going to the bright lights of Tokyo, instead we are heading to Kyoto and Osaka. Kyoto has been high on my list for a long time and I feel guilty that one of the places i’m most looking forward to going over the next few months is our first stop but I just can’t wait to be surrounded by the history and beauty of this place….and the sushi!


El Nido Palawan Island, Phillippines Been here, truly magnificent and glorious! Philippines

Lee and I had never considered a trip to the Philippines but after seeing all of our friends fantastic pictures we quickly added it to the itinerary so we will be stopping in on Bohol, Boracay and El Nido. Here’s to sandy beaches and drinks with the locals.


Guilin, China. Globe Travel in Bristol, CT is standing by to make your vacation dreams come true!  Reach us at 860-584-0517 or by email at!


We went to China a few months ago but we can’t wait to go back. We wanted to see some impressive landscapes and the countryside of China is definitely the place to do this. We are heading to Guangzhou and Guilin …all the G’s. I’m not going to lie, I’m in it for the dumplings.


Hong Kong, China | 21 Most Colorful And Vibrant Places In The WorldHong Kong

I know listing Hong Kong as a separate country is debatable but I have a very good friend from Hong Kong who thinks of it as a different place and the British Visa application was different for Hong Kong compared to China so I think it’s fair to list them side by side. We are looking forward to climbing Victoria Peak and meeting up with my friend who happens to be visiting at the same time as us. Woohoo

Hoi An, Vietnam - Visit to make the most of your experience in Vietnam!


Vietnam is another place that’s been high on the list for a long time. We are starting in Hanoi  then going to Hue, Hoi an, Mui  Ne and Ho Chi Minh. We are looking forward to cooking classes, pho, and 12p beer… as well as all the culture/people/sights of course. We are going to the home of PHO!

Angkor Wat Cambodia / Watched the sunset here while drinking a horrid local wine and eating a crispy fried frog. A beautiful place & a wonderful adventure.


Next stop is a bus trip across the boarder into Phnom Penh. We don’t have long there before we are off to Sihanoukville. Before you all rush to tell us its not great we are only there for the night before we head to Koh Rong Samloem. A small island with about 5 hours of electricity a day. I’ll be celebrating my birthday here and I can’t wait. Sunsets and cocktails..woohoo. Lastly it wouldn’t be a trip to Cambodia without a sunrise trip to Angkor Wat in Seim Reap.

skyline2 Thailand

We are having a ‘do over’ in Bangkok since last time we had such a disaster (which you can read about here). People always think because of this we didn’t like Bangkok but I loved the place. I can’t wait to go back and see the place properly this time. Then it’s up north to the bloggers paradise that is Chiang Mai. Unfortunately , It’s rainy season when we go to this part of Asia . Our original plan didn’t have Thailand on it at all , instead we wanted to see Laos and Myanmar but the rain means we have to skip them this time, as well as the beaches of Thailand but I’m really excited to see Chang Mai after hearing so many great things. See you soon Pad Thai. You will be in our bellies.

Singapore's Supertrees at the "Gardens by the Bay". I see I'll have to go back to Singapore to see these by night.Singapore

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for this country. Is it for the history? slightly. Is it for the culture? marginally. Is it because one of my best friends is moving there a week before we arrive? HELL YES! This is a selfish stop for Lee and I to see one of our favourite humans…and maybe go to Sesame Street in Universal Studios, which for a Muppet fanatic is the holy grail.

Rice terraces close to Ubud. Bali, Indonesia To book go to


When we came to Asia this was high on my list of places to see. We are spending a lot of time here and seeing Yogyakarta, Ubud, Nusa Lembongan, Gili Air and Kuta Lombok. We can’t wait. Yoga, monkeys and beaches. We also may be dragging one of Lee’s best friends to meet us for a weekend so I can’t help but jump around a little bit when I think about journeying to this magic country.

The dolphins coming to shore at Monkey Mia, Western AustraliaAustralia

Lastly, but definitely not least is our new home for the year, Australia. This isn’t a country I ever wanted to live in , that was until Lee sold me on it because he is in love with the place. I am now fully on board and can’t wait to experience every inch of the place. We are starting in Perth but who knows where the year will take us.

Extra stops in 2015

Obviously we don’t know what will happen with the rest of the year but there are definitely some places we’d love to pop into:

Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


When we are in Singapore we are very tempted to just run over the border and have some food there to say we did it. We are a little bit addicted to adding countries to our list but we will definitely be back to spend some proper time there soon.

Wow, just wow! Bridestowe Lavender Farm, Tasmania - by Tim Clark


I realise this is still Australia but I really want to pop over to this lavender filled paradise.

Fiji IslandsFiji, Tonga and Samoa

It would be rude to not visit these places while we are in Australia surely….let alone the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu…ect

New ZealandNew Zealand

Once again this country is so close to us when we are in Australia that we would love to go and see the place but maybe we will do it at the end of year in Oz.

Here’s to an exciting year ahead.


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5 Cliche Things You Should Do In Tokyo

6th August 2014

5 cliche things you should do in tokyo Before I write this post it’s important to note that I love travel cliches. When I visit somewhere I’ve always dreamed of I am a walking talking cliche. I want to drink Guinness in Ireland, dance to bagpipes in Scotland and eat Paella in Spain. It’s those cliche moments that allow you to embrace the fact you are travelling  in those exotic locations. For Lee and I they are bench marks for a country. Not everyone appreciates these moment and everyone travels differently . These moments can be found in a thousand different ways. But if , like us, you want to have those moments that make you stop and say ‘wait a minute, I’m really in (insert country here)’ then these are the posts for you.

So with all that being said, let’s talk about Tokyo.

tokyo When we decided to move to Korea we knew without a doubt we would be taking the hour flight to Japan while we were here. We found the perfect opportunity to go last September, during the Korean national holiday of Chusok  . We even managed to recruit one of our friends to come along.

I  loved everything about Tokyo. It’s people, food and culture were everything I hoped for. Before going to Japan we made a list of things we knew we wanted to try and do in the 4 short days.  Our list was about two pages long and we did manage to do quite a lot of it but for your sanity (and my carpal tunneled hands) I won’t list them all. Instead I’ll share the five most iconic things that have become cliche but are actually those pure blissful moments when you are traveling that allow you to step back and say ‘wow, I’m in Japan’.

5 Cliche Things You Should Do In Tokyo: Sumo Circle

  1.  Watch Sumo –

Sumo is synonymous with Japan. When you think of Sumo wrestlers it conjures pictures of Japanese flags floating behind them large men in diapers while they stamp their feet down in the sand and throw salt. When we decided to go to Tokyo I knew I wanted to see sumo. Lee knew there was no way in hell he wasn’t going to track down a Sumo in a nappy. Luckily for us we were visiting during one of the main Sumo championships. We paid quite a hefty price (no pun intended) for the all day event and hoped it wouldn’t be a waste. I can tell you categorically , it was not. The huge venue was full of eager locals as well as people that had travelled to Tokyo just for the event. We ate sumo themed food, drank beer and watched the most interesting live sport I’ve ever seen. The main event sumo The only down side to sumo is that the warm up to each 10 second match is epic. Sometimes they would bow to each other for a good twenty minutes before a fight would begin but this really is what you have come to watch. Seeing them throw the salt and bow to the respected members of the judging panel all added to the experience. If you go wanting to experience the ancient sport and rituals rather than the actual 3 second match , you will not be disappointed . Lee even made me chase down a sumo in the street to have his picture taken beside him. super duper sumo tokyo Let me tell you that no man has ever smelt as good as that sumo wrestler. Shocking fact: sumo’s (or at least that one) smell like chocolate.

2. Go to a Sake Bar

Sake Tokyo We were extremely lucky that during our visit to Tokyo our friend brought us along to dinner with his old Oxford school mate. His school mate is actually Japanese and knew the ins and outs of Tokyo. The day we spent with him was by far the most interesting. He led us three, the lost looking foreigners, to a restaurant where we ate the most delicious Cow’s tongue. Dinner Tokyo Yes I realise that sounds disgusting but its really tasty. We even ate the free snails we were given. although I was eating it all out of politeness to start off with it was actually delicious. This was followed with a trip to a Sake bar. None of us (even our new Japanese friend) had tried Sake but I’d been told to go to a real Sake bar and to ask for the sweeter stuff instead of the spicy brand. We found a tiny bar that sat about 10 people, which is common in Tokyo and ordered. The next thing we knew, we were being handed delightful solid cubes of wood filled to the brim with sake. This in itself wouldn’t be weird apart from the fact there was also a giant glass of sake in the block too. MArk Sake Tokyo We blew every etiquette rule out of the water since we had no idea what we were doing or how to drink from this tower of booze  but  it was …um…tasty is the wrong word…It was interesting. We drink Korean alcohol a lot here in Korea so it didn’t blow our taste buds as they are quite similar but I would definitely take it slow the first few tasting. It’s extremely strong stuff. Sake Tokyo 2

3. Buy something from a vending Machine

vending machine tokyo When ever you mention you are going to Japan someone will tell you about the vending machine that you can buy dirty underwear from. Although seeing that written down makes me think that this may  just be a weird fact that my weird friends know. Dirty underwear being forgotten, we were interested to see if it was more of a myth than a reality that vending machines were everywhere and selling all manner of things. When we arrived we realised very quickly that the rumours (not the pants one, that’s still unproven) were true. Every corner, even dark alleys have vending machines for hot coffee or coke. We did see a few random ones for fruit, ice cream and one for books but my favourite, by far, was the ramen machine. Inside a small , sorry make that TINY restaurant we were pointed towards a large machine with all manner of buttons. We all guessed at what there were from the tiny pictures, paid and took a seat. A few minutes later we were presented with the most delicious noodles I’ve ever eaten. ramen tokyo Even to this day I have dreams about that ramen. Poor Lee who doesn’t seem to have too much luck with Asian food happened to press the wrong button and got a bowl of ice vinegar noodles. ice noodles These are much loved by locals but were quite a hard flavour for Lee to swallow. Either way it was a fun experience and I’d do it again.

4. Go to an Arcade

Tokyo Arcade This was something our friend Mark and I knew we wanted to do before we’d booked our flights. Mark is an avid Mario Cart enthusiast so he wanted to destroy Lee at a game or two. Tokyo Arcade 3 I was in it for the bizarre games such as the ‘first date’ game a friend had played on his trip to Tokyo where you had to woe a lady with button bashing. We tracked down a traditional Japanese drum game. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing or what the options were but it was fantastic fun. Tokyo Arcade 2 Japanese arcades are a world of their own and a great little hide away if you are visiting Tokyo in the blistering heat. Go on, let your inner teenager out.

5. Cross the Shibuya crossing

Shiubyua 3 I remember telling Lee we had to go to Shibuyu crossing while we were in Japan. He agreed and I was a happy camper, that was until ten second later when he asked what it actually was. Here was the downfall in my plan because Lee hates busy roads and lots of people but like a trooper (and because I told him many beautiful Japanese woman may be there) we headed to the crossing and took a moment to take in its splendor. In case you haven’t heard about Shibuya it is the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world with as many as one million people crossing a day. Shibuyua It is a crazily fun thing to be a part of and it adds to the fun knowing its the busiest crossing in the world. You’ve just become a record breaking road crosser. The famous crossing is featured in many films such as Lost in Translation. Shiubyua 4 It gives you this feeling of being right in the centre of it all when you look up around you to the towering buildings and big screens. This spot feels exactly like Times Square in New York. This felt like real Tokyo to me. Iconic, busy, Kitsch and of course beautifully cliched.

Shiubyua 2 Well thats our top five. There are millions more I wanted to list but these are the five that I think of when people mention Tokyo. Cliches are cliches for a reason. The things I’ve listed are truely unique to Tokyo and made it feel real for us. Hopefully it will do the same for you. Like Alan Bennett says – “Clichés can be quite fun. That’s how they got to be clichés.”

What cliche things are you looking forward to doing? What cliche things have you done around the world? Where in Tokyo do you love or are you travelling there soon? Let us know and send us any questions you have about this lovely city.