Japanese Adventure

Hey there!
Updating y'all on another adventure I went on back in May: Tokyo, Japan. 

Senso-ji Temple 
Now some of you may be thinking: "How on earth does Amanda get to travel so much?" Which is a great question!
Answer: My parents work for the airlines, so I'm blessed with flight benefits. Here's the thing, though... they end when I'm 24, which is next year, so I'm using those bad boys up. (I seriously need a job in which I'm paid to travel, like a travel writer or something. That's the dream!) 

Now before I get too deep into this post I have some advice for y'all, especially those of you in college: Befriend foreigners! 

Seriously, it's the best gift ever. 

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends." ~Maya Angelou

I love meeting people from different countries, whether that's through my own travels or befriending exchange students at school. I love introducing foreigners to Portland and American culture as well as learning about their own culture. I love making them feel welcomed. 

During January of 2013 I was incredibly fortunate to befriend a Japanese girl name Natsuki at Latin America Night. (Yes, go to the cultural nights put on by your college. You never know who you are going to meet. I went to almost every single one at Portland State University and loved it!) My roommate Jamie and I became great friends with her, introducing her to Portland restaurants and concerts and even American sayings. 

One of my favorite conversations with her and Jamie went like this:
Jamie: Holy shit!
Natsuki: What doest that mean?
Me: Oh no, don't say that. You wanna say "Holy crap!". That's the PG version.
Natsuki: What is PG? 
Me: Oh, um, it's like, uh... the better version? Nicer wording?
Natsuki: Ok. Holy crap!

Summer of 2013: Natsuki & I hiked Silver Falls. 

Roommate Jamie and Natsuki accidentally matching. 
Me, Jamie, my other close friend Keiana, and Natsuki at the midnight release of Catching Fire. 
Hanging out with the band Superhighway (formerly known as The Ecstatics) at the Crystal Ballroom. 94 cent concert. 
We definitely cried saying farewell to her back in December of 2013. I promised I'd visit her in Japan one day! 

Then in 2014, I met three Japanese students (Ryoma, Mariko, & Takaho) at a friend's dorm, he was introducing them to the deliciousness of macaroni and cheese. After eating we ended up playing Apples to Apples which was lots of fun. I ended up becoming great friends with these three. I took them hiking, introduced them to quality hot chocolate, yummy restaurants, went to the fair, and concerts, too, of course!
At Off the Waffle in Portland. (From left to right) Ryoma, Me, Mariko, and Takaho. 
Always kicking my butt at ping pong. 
Mariko & I going up a hill I've named San Francisco hill. 
Introducing Ryoma & Mariko to the brilliance of Blue Star Donuts.  
Mariko taking a picture of Mt. Hood.  
I made them (no, I invited Takaho & Ryoma) to pick up trash with me on our walk. It poured on us.  
Takaho was in charge of the trash claw while I held the bag.  
Captial Cities in the pouring rain on the waterfront in Portland.   
At the fair. Enjoying fireworks. 
We also enjoyed taking creeper photos...
Our creeper photo is super strong here.
My last day with Mariko in the United States. December 2014. 
It was very sad to say goodbye to these three as well. I loved them all so much and didn't know when I was going to see them again. Little did I know, it'd be 5 months later!

I finished college in March of 2015 and spent most of April traveling: France, England, and Hawai'i. Each time I arrived home I craved another adventure. I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to make it out to Japan since I had to coordinate with four people and figure out where to stay, but in the end the trip happened and thank the Lord I was able to see all four of my friends! 

Taken in the Seattle airport. Waiting for my flight to Japan. Cracked open a new journal & sipped on a delicious soy chai latte. 
I left May 11th, landing in a typhoon and then waking up the next morning to an earthquake. Welcome to Japan! 
Mariko's family was incredibly generous and let me stay at their house for the week. Here is where I slept. This was taken right after arriving at her house from the airport (1am). I'd been up for 24 hours at that point and was exhausted. 
That first night I took a shower and after planning out where I wanted to visit in Tokyo with Mariko I went to sleep.

The next day Mariko and I took the metro to her school, met up with Ryoma, and then explored the Senso-ji Temple, a very touristy area. Other than the touristy areas I was pretty much the only non-Japanese person around. Also, I'm tall, so I definitely stood out. Haha!
My favorite sign from the metro. 
Below is a vlog I made about our adventure to the Senso-ji Temple.

Here's what my Eyewitness Travel book I picked up in Seattle says about the Senso-ji Temple: "Rebuilt countless times since its founding in 628, Senso-ji is the oldest temple site in Tokyo and the capital's spiritual epicenter. The current temple, dedicated to Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, is a fireproof replica of an earlier version built in 1612. One of the liveliest spots in the city, it's grounds attract throngs of visitors who come to pray inside its cavernous main hall with its opulent, golden altar and priceless collection of 18th and 19th-century votive entertainment district. Here, the murmur of chanting sutras, flickering candles and clouds of incense co-exist with a lively trade in religious souvenirs, trinkets, and traditional foods."

As you'll see in the vlog we passed by this giant bronze incense burner. Ryoma told me to cup the smoke into my hands and onto my head, said it would make me smarter. The book says, "...wafting the smoke over [your] clothes [is] good luck." 

Ryoma, Mariko, and I at the Senso-ji Temple. 
Later we met up with Takaho and ate some delicious ramen.

Seriously, so delicious.
I was super thankful to visit Japan with the guidance of my Japanese friends because traveling can be stressful, especially when doing simple things like going to a restaurant. There are different customs that--if you don't speak the language or know what to do--can be paralyzing. For instance at this ramen restaurant before taking a seat you have to insert money into a machine, pick out which meal you'd like, out pops a coin, sit down, hand the waitress the coin, and then she brings your food to you. Yeah, totally wouldn't have known this without their help. 

Below is a video of almost all the food I ate in Japan. 

Because I stayed at Mariko's house her family fed me breakfast and dinner so I ended up spending less than 300 dollars on the whole trip! Each morning I had freshly made carrot juice, hot tea, sticky rice with some sort of meat and vegetables. Her mom is an excellent cook!

After the ramen restaurant we went to the Tokyo National Museum. 
Reunited with my three buds. 
Takaho and me. 
This next video is of all three of us browsing through the museum and then later exploring the fish markets.

Oh man... those phallic looking geoducks gave us a good laugh. 

Then next day, while Mariko was in school Ryoma and I went to the Tokyo Tower, which is basically like a red and white Eiffel Tower. It's cool because like I said earlier I went to France, so I got to experience both towers. 

On the Eiffel Tower. 
In the Tokyo Tower. 
Before going up the Tokyo Tower. 
The next day Mariko was in school for 3 hours so she suggested I go to the Kokyo Gaien National Gardens, an area known for being in front of the Imperial Palace. However, it was unfortunately closed that day, so at first I had no idea what to do, but I found a Modern Art Museum nearby and had a lovely time admiring some paintings.

Here is that video. 

That night, we met up with my good pal Natsuki. Natsuki is a fancy business woman now who bought our desserts for us. 
Enjoying my green tea ice cream. 
Introduced Mariko to Natsuki. Also this is the dessert I forgot to film before I ate it in that video. 

Then Mariko took me to Tokyo Station, which is a beautiful building made of red bricks. We were there at night and enjoyed the lights of the city. In this next video, we went up to the very top of one of the buildings to look out the window.

Gorgeous view of the city at Tokyo Station. 

Tokyo Station. 

The following day Mariko and I went to Tokyo Disneyland! (Which is much cheaper than regular Disneyland. We went for half the day and it was only $55.00.)

Here I am in front of the Tower of Terror. 
Then on my last day we went to a shrine! Sadly I forgot the name, but it was really beautiful.
You can watch the video below.

There we ate the best green tea soy ice cream I've ever had the pleasure of tasting.  

Then at some point I had to go home, but guess who piloted the 747 I flew on? 
Answer: My step-dad Mike!

It was the first time he was the pilot of a commercial airplane I flew. We flew to Hawai'i for two days and then flew home. 

Here is the video. (Most of it is just me being clueless in the airport and keeping myself entertained since I was in there for such a long time.) 

Mike and Me. 
Playing in the waves at Waikiki. 

Japan was a blast and I can't wait to go back!

Every night I thanked God in my journals for all the blessings in my life. I'm beyond grateful for my friends and family and for the incredible adventures I've been fortunate enough to go on. 

Blog/vlog to you later!


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