Scoring sweet swag, reviewing awesome products and living the rad mom life.

Posts tagged ‘expat’

I’m All the Way Up (in the Tokyo Tower)

If you ever come for a visit to Tokyo, one of the most touristy things you can do is visit the Tokyo Tower!  At 1,092 feet high, it’s one of the tallest structures in Japan and a must-see during your next trip.

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On the outside, it just looks like a cool looking communications structure.  But, on the inside there is actually a museum, theme park, restaurants ,and plenty of shops.  I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Tokyo Tower twice – once in the evening and once during the day – and both times did not disappoint!

The first time I went, it was during the Illuminations in the winter.  Illuminations are basically Christmas lights multiplied by 100 that last from November-February.  You can find them all over landmarks and popular attractions in Japan during this time period. For the Tokyo Tower, they had an Illuminations area at the base of the tower, where there were tons of orange lights and lots of photo ops.

Did I mention you can get some pretty amazing crepes at the base of the tower, too? Also craft beer!

After the lights and crepes, we headed up to the Main Deck Observatory for some sweet views of Tokyo!

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You can also grab a drink and hit up a smaller souvenir shop on this level.  And you can check out this super adorable sparkly pink version the Tower! 🙂

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And if you visit on the weekend or a holiday, you might even catch the Tokyo Tower mascot (yes, there’s a mascot) – Noppon! My kids thought he was Patrick Star from SpongeBob, but they were excited to see him nonetheless.

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I will say there is something pretty dazzling about the evening views from the Tokyo Tower.  It’s mesmerizing to see Tokyo lit up in beautiful lights!  Also, don’t forget to stroll through historic Shiba Park to take in some more sights!

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My next visit was during the day which provided even more unique views!

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This time, we (my cousin and I) headed all the way up for the “Top Deck Tour” because we are fancy like that.  For the Top Deck Tour, you ride the elevator to the Main Observatory, then go to a secret room for a whole different tour.

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You will be given a special phone and headphones so that you can listen to the presentation and tour in English (or language of your choice) and you also get a cup of lemonade and learn a secret hand signal! 🙂 Then, you go into a much smaller elevator to head up to the Top Deck.  Now, I love heights – I’ve hiked some pretty tall mountains and have even gone skydiving – but this little elevator almost gave me a mild panic attack.  Not only is it small, it’s see-through all the way around and it shakes a little as it gets higher.  But, no worries, the nice elevator controller lady explained that it was “just the safety mechanism kicking in”.  A piece of info that would have been handy before entering the elevator.  Anyways, once you reach the top, you enter into a disco ball.  A literal DISCO BALL! Like I said, things are fancy up here.

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The day was a bit foggy, but the views were still nice.

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There’s also an opportunity to stand on a floor window and look below!

But is there SWAG?  Why yes, there is!  Besides the scenery, cup of lemonade, and secret hand signal, you also get a free small photo (with the option to upgrade to a larger one for a fee).

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Nothing can stop us…we’re all the way up.

And if it’s your birthday, you get an envelope filled with coupons for free and discounted stuff within the Tower.  For instance, a coupon for a free crepe!

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Overall, the Tokyo Tower was a breathtaking experience that I will remember forever!  I highly recommend a visit during your next trip to this gorgeous city!

Day or night, the views do not disappoint!

Have you been to the Tokyo Tower?  What did you love about it?!

~SM

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From Japan with Love

You may have noticed that the scenery has changed a bit in my pictures and that’s because it HAS! That’s because a few months ago I relocated from sunny Southern California to The Land of the Rising Sun (seriously, the sun rises crazy early).

So I thought I would share what I’ve been up to and what I’ve learned over the last few months!

Trains are the way of life.  I’m still trying to navigate the train systems – like figure out if I need to be on a local or express train.  I had never been on a train before living here, so this has been quite the experience.  There is also train etiquette – everyone is pretty quiet and you don’t invade other people’s space.  They are also very clean!  This is kind of surprising since public trash cans aren’t as common as they are in the U.S.

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Noodles are on every corner.  You won’t find many drive thru fast food restaurants here with the exception of a McDonald’s here and there, but you will find sushi and noodles spots everywhere!  And ramen is amazeballs here!

No drink refills.  Unlike dining in the U.S., you will have to pay for each cup of soda in most restaurants.  But you will get unlimited water and many places have pitchers of ice water right on the table!  Also, there is no tipping and the servers rarely check on you because they want you to enjoy your meal without being interrupted.

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Treats are everywhere!  While we are on the topic of food, you will also find donut shops, ice cream, pastries, crepes, etc. on almost every block.  Sweets are a big deal here and it’s all delicious!  You will also find KitKat bars in all types of flavors like wasabi and wine flavor!

Starbucks isn’t the same.  You will find Starbucks all over Japan, but their drink options aren’t quite the same as they are in the U.S. (no pumpkin spice lattes here) 😦 And the drinks are also a little sweeter than they are back home, but I’ve tried some interesting flavors as well like the Almond Milk and Granola Frappuccino!

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Vending machines.  Speaking of coffee, you can find it in any vending machine.  Cold or HOT!  That’s right, you can get hot coffee, tea, or hot chocolate right out of the vending machine!  And you literally can’t walk more than 10 steps without passing a vending machine in Japan.

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Toilets.  Toilets are either really fancy or really primitive.  😉

Playgrounds.  The parks in Japan are unlike anything you’ve ever seen!  So much larger and complete with streams, bouncy areas, zip lines, roller coaster slides, etc.  Even the adults have a great time!

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Manhole covers. You can find art everywhere you look, including the street!  Even the manhole covers are beautifully painted!

Nature.  You really don’t have to go far to appreciate the nature in Japan!  There are gardens everywhere, beautiful forests, and the trees are so unique and gorgeous!

Temples.  Temples are everywhere and they are quite sacred so do as the locals do as respect the grounds.  Also visit the Big Buddha! It looks just the way it does in the history books!

Narrow Roads.  The roads are pretty narrow here which takes some getting used to…as well as the whole driving on the left side of the road deal.  There’s also tons of pedestrians so you gotta watch out for people riding bikes and crossing the street.

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Tokyo.  Tokyo is enormous.  There are so many different districts and things to look at…you could easily get lost for days in this city.  Harajuku has some pretty amazing shopping spots and the architecture is unique and beautiful!  Shibuya Crossing (Pedestrian Scramble) is insanely busy and a great place to sit and watch all the traffic!

The people.  The people here are so friendly and many will try to speak as much English as they can when speaking to you. They are so polite and will help you if you are lost!

I’m still adjusting to this new life, but trying to enjoy the ride. 🙂  Stay tuned for more updates on Japan and I will continue to share the SWAG as much as I can!

And continue to enjoy the view! 🙂

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Have you been to Japan?  What was your favorite part?

I’m off to explore!

~SM

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