Friday, August 26, 2022

JAPAN (Aug 7-20) 2022 - Tokyo

14 days in Japan is a really long time. It's especially long when you're on your own for a lot of it. Fortunately, I've been keeping myself busy with both work and sightseeing! 

Since this is my longest trip, I'm going to do my best to break out my experiences into additional posts so that I can go into more details on some things versus others!

I... am exhausted. But let's get started! I don't want to forget a single moment of this trip. Please note: all opinions here are my own and not of the company I work for. I'm pulling a lot of the business part out of this and only talking about parts that I am able to. 

Sunday - August 7, 2022 & Monday - August 8, 2022

I got up at 5am PST to walk the dogs before leaving for the airport. After checking in, it was just a matter of waiting for the flight. Since Japan is still not open to tourists, the plane was relatively empty, and the flight was seamless minus the fact that I couldn't sleep through it. 

Unfortunately, the plane ride took so much out of me - by the time we got to the hotel and checked in, I was ready to nap. That nap turned into bedtime, so I woke up bright and early...

Tuesday - August 9, 2022

4am on Tuesday morning! I watched the sun rise from my hotel room, and then went for a quick run outside. It was humid and muggy and I definitely wasn't ready for it. 

I found myself inside Shinjuku Chuo Park, and ended up at Shinjuku Juniso Kumano-jinja Shrine (inside the park!). I watched as someone clapped twice loudly, bowed twice, and clapped again. I googled the process and did the same - praying silently for a few things - and then ran back toward the hotel. The cicadas joined me. All of them. 

The rest of the day was dedicated to work: Over the course of the last few months, many of the teams at HT worked with Studio Ghibli to launch the Harajuku Collective - an exclusive collection designed in the US and brought to life in Tokyo! 

The collection was announced at WonderCon in March, and premiered at San Diego Comic Con in July. Launching in Japan was like watching a project see its course - an amazing course at that.  

I still can't get over all the great social content and press surrounding this event!

We previewed the collection for press and partners on the 9th, and opened to the public (online and in store) on the 10th!

Many Japanese influencers stopped by to preview the collection, but HT was fortunate enough to be joined by 3 from the US: AshleyNava, and Ati

The shop opens 11 - 7 every day until August 29, and will live online until product sells out or 12/31/2022.
📍 ASOBIFACTORY 3 -21-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001

You can shop the collection at as well!

Wednesday - August 10, 2022

Something must have been wrong with me, because just about every morning I went for a walk, a run, or a swim. 

Found me a Robert Indiana LOVE sign!

We went back to the pop up shop a few times over the course of the week, but also stopped by Takeshita street - the most popular street in Harajuku.

Japan isn't open to the public just yet - I think group tours, business, and a few other reasons - but definitely not much tourism. We stuck out like sore thumbs! With that said, it was nice to people watch and take a look at the stores in Japan. So much and so little have changed since I was there in 2019. 

I talked about this in another post, but I still can't get over the 36 cent ice cream cone at IKEA!

Stopped at the Harry Potter Store in Akasaka and was blown away by the whimsy - 

The Lego Sorting Hat even sorted me into Gryffindor! JK I sorted myself into Gryffindor 🤣

Thursday - August 11, 2022

So many things to do, so little time. Our friends at Ghibli invited us to the Ghibli Exhibition - and boy, did it not disappoint! The beginning of the exhibition focuses on the life of Toshio Suzuki. No phones are allowed but I had to bust mine out because everything was in Japanese and I had NO IDEA what any of it said. 

They did allow pictures in certain areas, which was cool. And the very end of the exhibition? There are so many instagrammable moments!

Patty and I met up with Jason and Teiko for dinner. So happy I got to see them!

Friday - August 12, 2022

Saturday - August 13, 2022

By Saturday, a Typhoon had hit Japan. I had never experienced one, but the rain was heavy, the wind was heavy, and all the discarded umbrellas on the side of the road essentially told me I probably shouldn't have gone out. Regardless, I left the hotel anyway and headed to Odaiba!

Teamlab was such an immersive experience. I had never heard of it before, but apparently everyone knows about it? This one was cool. All the lights were interactive - If you hovered over a certain image, the light would react and the image would shrink. If you waved at a character, it would wave back to you. If you stood in a certain place, butterflies would grow on you and travel across the space. 

Loved it and then some. 

Can you tell I got caught in the rain? My hair curled!
Walked to the Gundam Statue in Odaiba and met up with my buddy Doraemon!

Sunday - August 14, 2022

Sunday was the day I started to regret not being able to speak Japanese. I woke up early and made my way to the Inokashira Park Zoo - I say I regret not being able to speak Japanese because I got SO bit up by mosquitos that I couldn't figure out how to buy bug bite spray or calamine lotion. I now know that there is no such thing as Calamine lotion in Japan BUT that there is something called Muhi that is an after-bite thing that absolutely works!

For repellants, use Skin Vape. Thank goodness for Buzzfeed, my news source of choice (listicles), as I would never have known without them. 

Okay, so. The Zoo. Many of you know that I try to go to the zoo in every city I visit - I just want to see what the offering is like! This one had a squirrel exhibit. When I told my mom about it later, she said that in China squirrels didn't exist! 

This zoo had an animal called a racoon dog. I wish I took a video because it literally walked like a dog but looked like a raccoon! So cute. I probably got the most bug bites here because I couldn't stop staring. 

The zoo and Ghibli Museum were in the same park, so I walked over to meet up with Chie and Takako. It was my second time at the museum but it never ceases to amaze me. We walked through everything, watched a short film about sumo wrestling mice, and then headed over to TOLO cafe, where we had some Totoro cream puffs!

Rumor has it that Miyazaki's brother owns the shop, so the puffs are officially licensed!

Ended up in Akasaka, where the Harry Potter themed train station led us to a life-sized time turner! There was a line for pictures so... I noped on out of there. 

We made our way to Hie Shrine, because I had asked to see Toriis but didn't want to go all the way to Hiroshima (one day!) - It was so peaceful and beautiful there. 

Monday - August 15, 2022

I don't know about y'all, but ever since we got solar at home, I don't experience life over 75 degrees. Tokyo? Hot. Disneyland? Humid. I don't know how anyone survives in this humidity!

I spent the entire day sweating. I walked from shop to shop looking at everything they had to offer. At one point, I was so thirsty but couldn't find a vending machine for water because every machine had a line of 15 - 20 people. I finally got to one without a line and bought three drinks all at once - I drank two of them in 5 minutes. 

Ok - so... funny thing. I went to Disneyland to enjoy the day but when you're on your own there's no lollygagging. You just.. do what you need to do. Half way through the day, I was done and told myself I should go for a ride. But I didn't want to wait in line, so I went to one that had a short ride - the Stitch Encounter. In line, it felt like we were going to do some sort of Haunted Mansion walk through ride - Keep in mind I don't speak Japanese - 

No. This "ride" is like the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor at Disney World - an interactive show with the cast and the audience. And guess what. This audience member did NOT speak the language. Everything went over my head and for 15 minutes I felt like someone was going to pick me to speak and I was terrified. 

Never again. Next time I'm forcing someone to come with me. 

Tuesday - August 16, 2022

Lots more walking on Tuesday. My favorite stop, however, was a pet shop! 
I didn't see a lot of pets in Japan, so this was my animal fix. 


Ed arrived later that night and we had Okonomiya - they torched his 🤣

Wednesday - August 17, 2022

Ermagerd. Who knew that I didn't know what theme park life really could have been?! 
AIR CONDITIONED. We went to Puroland and it was an INDOOR, AIR CONDITIONED theme park. 
*insert Jonah Hill screaming gif* AHHH!!!

The park was amazing. Not only did I NOT sweat through my outfit, but we were lucky enough not to have to wait in line for anything! (Thank you to our friends at Sanrio!)

The My Melody boat ride was adorable. 

We went to this thing called Kawaii Kabuki - which was this theatrical feature that introduced the younger generation to Kabuki. It was about a demon who was nice and how everyone was scared of him but eventually vouched for his niceness. I think. 

Hello Kitty had a concert by the Wisdom Tree and I felt like I was at a rave. 

Here are a series of pictures to encapsulate the rest of the day:

The rest of our trip was filled with very eventful meetings and even though I've been back for almost a week, I'm still really jetlagged. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm cutting this post short because I need to stop to take yet another nap. I really hope my body battery recharges soon!