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Here come my thoughts! Watch out!

I felt sad the morning we left Beijing.  I had truly enjoyed my time in China and was sad to be leaving.  But at the same time, I knew that in a matter of hours, my life-long dream would be coming true!  How could I stay sad with that in mind?

We said our good-byes to Mike at the airport and promised to keep in touch.  If you ever need a tour guide for Beijing, Mike Zhang from Beijing Private Tours is the best.  Anyway, we went our separate ways and when we reached the ticket counter we were informed that we would be able to change our tickets to a direct flight to Japan.  Instead of having to lay-over in Hong Kong, we would be able to be in Japan in just a few short hours!  This was the best news ever!  I could hardly contain my excitement!

Good-bye, Beijing!

Good-bye, Beijing!

The time came for us to board our plane and take the 4 hour journey to the island of Japan.  As we were in the air I began to get really nervous.  All kinds of thoughts were rushing through my mind.  What if we got to Japan and I didn’t like it?  What if it’s not everything I hoped it would be?  What happens then?  Everything in my life had led up to this moment– all of my past and all of my plans for the future would be wasted if it turned out that it wasn’t what I had thought.  Until those few hours sitting in the airplane, those thoughts had never crossed my mind and I felt as though my entire identity would be destroyed if that was the case.

As we began our descent I looked out the window at the green grass and mountains and teared up.  I wiped the tears from my eyes as a feeling of peace and excitement replaced my fears.  I knew at that moment that this was so right.  That this was the right direction for my life.  I felt my self grinning from ear to ear.

After a bit of a struggle to figure out transportation and our money situation at the Narita Airport, we were able to board a train that would take us to Shinagawa, the ward in Tokyo that we would be staying in.  We started out in a tunnel, but when we finally made it outside, I couldn’t take my eyes off the scenery that was passing me by.  Even when my neck started to hurt, I didn’t want to look away for fear of missing out on something.  I tried to commit everything I was seeing to my permanent memory.

My first sights of Japan.  Beautiful!

My first sights of Japan. Beautiful!

The sound of the Japanese language ringing through my ears was wonderful!  My heart ached to be able to someday be fluent in Japanese.  How could I have doubted that I wouldn’t have liked Japan?!  I was already so in love with everything and I hadn’t even been off the train yet!  I don’t think I had ever been so happy and grateful in my life.

By the time we reached Shinagawa station, it was dark outside.  It took us a few minutes to find our way out of the station and when we did, we didn’t need to look far to find our hotel.  We stayed in Shinagawa Prince Hotel, which is located directly across the street from the Shinagawa station.  Shinagawa Prince Hotel is such a cool place to stay, by the way!  They have their own aquarium and three towers of hotels and restaurants.  I loved staying there.

We went to drop our things off in our rooms and I ran to the window to get a good look of the city of Tokyo.  When I threw back the curtains I saw fireworks going off!  I tried to get a good picture but it ended up being a bit blurry.  As a joke, I told my grandma that they must be doing fireworks because they knew I was coming and wanted to welcome me to Japan.  Really, the fireworks were because we arrived on one of the days of the Bon Festival.

"Welcome to Japan, Abbie!"

“Welcome to Japan, Abbie!”

We were all hungry and Tyler and I wanted to eat real Japanese food so we split up from my grandparents.  They went to the McDonald’s near our hotel and Tyler and I went walking around Tokyo to find a good place to eat.  We didn’t walk far before we found a ramen shop so we decided to stop there.

Ramen Shop Sign

Ramen Shop Sign

This ain't no instant ramen.

This ain’t no instant ramen.

We entered inside and ordered us the best ramen I have ever had!  I can’t remember the exact kind I ordered, but it was so delicious!  I have never really liked Top Ramen like we have in America, but I really can’t eat it at all now that I have had the real stuff.  It was sweltering hot in the ramen shop but we were so hungry so it didn’t matter much.  Here’s a fun fact for you–when you are eating ramen, it’s polite to slurp.  Because slurping isn’t really polite in America, I had to get used to it at first, but once I got the hang of slurping, it was really fun!

We finished eating and decided to take a look around.  We walked for probably close to an hour and a half.  So many people were dressed up for Bon in their Yukata and they all looked so elegant!  I wanted to wear a Yukata too!  Tyler and I crossed to the other side of the station where there were more restaurants and shops.  We eventually walked to a four way stop that gave us a magnificent view of the Tokyo Tower all lit up for the night.  It was beautiful!  I was happy to spend time with Tyler like this in Japan because Japan had kind of connected us since we were little kids.

The lighting made this building seem otherworldly.

The lighting made this building seem otherworldly.

The Tokyo Tower at night.

The Tokyo Tower at night.


We had a full day tour of Tokyo the next day so we decided to head back to the hotel and get some rest.  On our way back I decided I wanted to take a picture with some girls in Yukata.  After Tyler helped me work up my courage, I asked a group of girls in my best Japanese if they would let me take a picture with them.  They were gracious and said yes.  Unfortunately, the picture didn’t turn out…

That night, I went to sleep as the happiest girl in the world.  I couldn’t wait for what tomorrow would bring.



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