I arrived to find out that the flight was no longer traveling east and instead was heading west to Okinawa, Japan. Bummer! My dreams of spending the weekend at the Ko Olina resort were quickly squashed. Luckily I have played the Space-A game before, so I was not at all surprised and only mildly disappointed.
|Coronado neighbor turned traveling buddy!|
A few hours later when I got home, I lugged my disappointing Hawaii bags back into the house and checked for her reply, which was simply, "Come on!!" I was going to be sensible and fly out two days later, but was met with the news that Kristi had already lined up a babysitter for Sunday night to go to a lantern festival in Tokyo. Yeah, I need to go to that, I thought. So at 10pm I booked a flight to leave the next morning. I repacked my bags, found a last-minute ride to the airport, and just like that was off to Japan!
|First Japan visit in 2010!|
|Japan's very own Tofu Fox!|
As our overseas tour is coming to a close, it has been on my radar to slip in one final visit there to see my friends and to do a few more exciting things in Japan (which, conveniently is only a three-hour flight and one time zone change away!). My friend Mary has been blogging about her adventures and discoveries for the past few months as the Tofu Fox. It made me realize that there was a lot I missed on my first trip simply from being in a fog of misunderstanding. I wanted to visit Japan within the context of the many other fascinating countries I have traveled to so I could better appreciate how truly unique and extraordinary of a place it is.
Two years later, I had a very different experience in Japan. I felt like I could actually get around the city on my own if I needed to, and rather than spend the moments in my brain fretting over the city's complexities, I now had the space to focus on its captivating intricacies. Everything there is so beautifully decorated and delicately presented. A small part of me is envious that my friends have been able to live somewhere so different, so elegant for their overseas tour... while I was sloshing around in a muddy jungle.
And with that, here are some pictures from my first couple of days in Japan!
Lantern festival in Tokyo
I wish I knew what the lanterns are for aside from beautiful beach decor.
And some really awkward train signs!
Like Singapore, Tokyo loves its order and its signs.
Hi friends!! Meeting up with Mary and Annika and kiddos on Omotesando-dori
for a day of shopping and lunching and shrines!
Japan has lots of fun surprises... like an energy drink that shoots out of a cooler.
Nice catch Kristi!
So great to see this little guy... I have known Will since he was three months old. Now (somehow) he is about to start second grade!
And last time I saw Bean he was six months old. Now he is covered in ice cream and wants to get out of his stroller :)
Sights along the gorgeous wooded stroll to Meiji Shrine
We arrived during a wedding procession! What luck!!
Entrance way at Meiji Shrine
Hi friends! So great to see everyone!
A few people crossing the street
And, oh yes, there was Zara :)
The same Zara we stopped by almost two years ago...
look how much Annika-chan has grown!
I think it's safe to say we've all grown quite a bit in these past two years abroad. My friends in Japan are also wrapping up their overseas tours, and I'm crossing my fingers that Mary's family will join Kristi's in being our neighbors on that side of the world too. So grateful for Kristi and Mary for hosting me during two wonderful trips to Japan. Definitely goes to show that you never know where the friendships of this small Navy world will take you... and if you're lucky, maybe even twice.