Christmas and New Years Japanese Style - Tokyo, Japan

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January 3rd 2012
Published: January 3rd 2012
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best curry in tokyo
My first day of vacation was spent on a bus.

And when I say bus I mean a 14 hour bus ride from Fukuoka to Tokyo that left Fukuoka at 6:30pm and got into Tokyo at 8:30am the next morning. Highway buses really are one of the cheapest ways to travel in Japan, but not really the most convenient or comfortable unless your the type of person who can sleep anywhere, and if you are I am highly jealous of your magical abilities.

Highway buses, specifically night buses, are really safe here. Nobody is allowed on the bus without first checking in with not only the driver, but an attendent that stays for the entire ride. My bus stopped every 2 to 3 hours at rest stops to let people get something to eat quickly or run to the bathroom if they needed. These buses also have different levels of comfort as well. If you're going cheap like I was, than the domestic class bus, while not as horrible as it could be, was not the most comfortable for sleeping. Bus liners have all the way up to 1st class comfort and you can recline a rather luxurious looking seat all the way back and actually feel like you're sleeping on a bed. Must be nice.

In comparison to the West, Christmas is what one would call a couples holiday here in Japan. And by that I mean that it is second only to Valentines Day here. I arrived in Tokyo on Christmas Eve and I could already tell that the couples spirit was just floating in the air. Though to be fair, 8:30am is not the most happening time in Shibuya, so I was able to get a seat at the 2 floored Starbucks that faces one of the busiest crosswalks on the planet and waiting for one of my best friends to come a pick me up. Sitting between a couple of exchange students who had been out partying all night long and a group of older women who were starting their shopping day with coffee gives a person a strong representation of what they are in for when they get to Tokyo. It takes all kinds.

The only reason why I was in Tokyo was because my oldest friend was going to be there for 10 days and I was not going to let
bar 39 bar 39 bar 39

fried food on sticks has yet to fail!
anything stop me from seeing her. Lucky for us my friend has good friends in Tokyo and one of them allowed us to stay at her apartment, with the roommate she forgot to tell that I was coming. All turned out well in the end and all 3 of us had a great time while Iris and I were sleeping in the photo studio/living room of this apartment close to Shibuya.

From day one, this trip has to be one of the nerdiest ones I've had in a long time. Headed out to Ikebukuro and the 6 story Animate, then headed to another area (that's name I never remembered) and went shopping at my favorite Japanese clothing lable for their end of year sale. End of year sales are everywhere in Japan, before or after the new year. My favorite lable had their sale before the new year, but most stores had their sales starting on the 2nd.

Tokyo has many fashion districts, and my friends favorite is Harujuku, so we ended up there a lot during the trip and we got to see the beautiful lights of Omotesando. Omotesando is a major shopping street that is lined
omrice food truckomrice food truckomrice food truck

it was delicious *_*
with trees during the year and at winter they light up all the trees for the holidays. It reminded me a lot of the Starlight Pagent in Sendai, but not nearly as long. The street was packed with couples and groups of people heading out to dinner, so many that the police had crossed off the overhead crossing bridges and you had to walk all the way down the street to cross.

Since Christmas Eve is one of the biggest couple holidays, my friend, one of her Tokyo friends, and I ended up having dinner at this really cute restaurant, and were surrounded by couples. We therefore dubbed it Single Girls Night and proceeded to complain about men, life, and nerd out to our hearts content with retro anime themes at karaoke afterwards.

Christmas dinner was spent in Bar 39 and filled with fried food on sticks and free drink service from the bar owner. Food on sticks has never failed to be a fill my stomach. The bar owner had friends arrive and it was great fun for my friend and I to listen and watch them. Many people believe that the Japanese are too serious, and in some ways they are, but when you watch them let lose for the evening you know that fun has not been lost yet!

My friend and I spent a lot of our time going to different stores and shopping around. We found great little restaurants and antique shops around the Shibuya apartment and I had a big first with her. My first Japanese concert!!

I am a huge music fan, American or Japanese. While I was living in Sendai my work schedule would just not allow me to go to any lives while I was there, but I always wanted to go. My friend does freelance design work for a Japanese band that is trying to make it in the US and we were allowed to go to his concert. It was in a small club with maybe 30-40 people there and it was amazing. Whenever I go to a concert in the US the crowd and the band are always free to do whatever they want and all you are suppose to do is enjoy yourself and do whatever you want. In Japan it can be a little different. The crowd and the singer pick up a lot of ques from the band and will start jumping in sync all ove the place. There were arms and heads flying and one little Japanese girl had to be one of the best head bangers I've ever seen.

News Years Eve started with 4 of us heading out for a little shopping and dinner. Harujuku was pretty empty and a good number of stores and shops were closed for the holiday. In Japan, New Years is one of the 2 holidays where family get back together and a huge number of people who usually live in Tokyo were traveling back to their hometowns to spend the holidays with family. With the city being empty, we were able to walk into a restaurant that almost always has a 45 minute wait throughout the year. American breakfast restaurants are huge in Japan and Eggs n Things is one of the most popular. We got to sit outside with heat lamps, blankets, and good conversation for a couple hours before heading to Koenji to enjoy to New Year in style.

We bought our drinks and sat around and watched youtube videos and talked until 2012 was official and then headed out for hatsumode. Hatsumode is the first temple visit of the New Year and Koenji, a suburb of Tokyo, has Hikawa Jinja. Now this name might not be so interesting or ring a bell to most, but any Sailor Moon lovers and nerds out there will note that it is the name of the shrine where Sailor Mars works. For this reason alone, we, okay I, decided that we should all go and buy our fortunes.

We waited it line for a good 5 minutes I want to say, made our prayers to the Gods and bought our fortunes. We ranged from the best of luck to a CURSE, which we than burned to send it back to the Gods. We had a last drink and snacks before 3 of us headed back to Shibuya for the night. The trains run all night in Tokyo for the New Year, so we didn't have any problems for ridiculously expensive taxi ride to worry about. Shibuya was a mess when we got there. There was trash everywhere and we just could not help but feel sorry for whoever had to clean up later that morning.

Our last day in Tokyo ended up with me down for the count with a 24 hour stomach virus. I was running to the bathroom all night and ended up sleeping all day the 1st. Missing all the girls lining up all night long outside the Shibuya 109 building to take advantage for their sale the next morning. These are the type of girls that wear super long extensions and dress in super feminine clothes. The picture of them sitting on the ground waiting for a store to open just blows me mind a little.

My friend and I made it to our trains just fine the next afternoon. I took to bullet train home because I was not going to survive the night bus with my stomach a second time. I made it back to school around 10 yesterday night, got a load of laundry done and then went to bed. All in all, a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas and New Years!

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 27


Japanese sodaJapanese soda
Japanese soda

this one wasn't too bad
wallet made from mangawallet made from manga
wallet made from manga

this is what i do in my free time ^_^;

the real Japanese pastime

3rd January 2012

i want more...
photos and stories:) glad you're enjoying your holiday. i didn't see those food trucks when i were in tokyo in 2010 (it's not last year, hahaha, just reminding myself). could you find it anywhere or only around residential area? well, happy new year to you kathryn!
3rd January 2012

Featured blog
Congratulations, on your first Featured Blog, on the Front Page. :)
4th January 2012

Yippy! You are on the front page of travel blog.
Excellent. Interesting collection of photos. Keep those blogs coming.

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