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Tokyo At Last

Good AM! Still haven't recovered fully from the jet lag, but it's Sunday morning here in Japan and we are en route to Tokyo to see the Tokyo Tower, Imperial Palace, Odaiba, Meiji Shrine and Asakusa Sensoji Temple. Our tour leaves the hotel around 8 AM every day, so if you've ever been on a bus tour, you know that you're never in one place for more than a day. The hotel provided us with a complementary breakfast, so taking advantage of it is always the smart thing to do.

Once we got on our bus, it was a two hour ride to Tokyo to pick up the other members of the group. Passing through the highway, I love catching glimpses of the cityscape. There's just something completely different and peaceful about this country that puts me at ease.

Traffic is never a problem here, and the hustle bustle is completely different in comparison to New York or Los Angeles. I also love seeing all of the guys and their reactions to the differences that they noticed. For people who have never been to Japan before, I always sense a pure awe and amazed look in their eyes. I felt the exact same way the first time I was here.

As soon as we got the rest of our group, we made our way to Asakusa Kannon Temple, an active place of worship where you can see the largest paper lantern in Japan. We were lectured on the difference between a Shinto Shrine and a Buddhist Temple by our tour guide, Billy, and then the guys and I took the time to explore the Nakamise Market, which resembles a traditional style shopping street of a bygone era.

From there, we made our way to the Imperial Palace, the former site of Edo Castle.

Walking around the park and surrounding areas were really cool. The entire palace is surrounded by moats and stone fortifications and it is located in the heart of Tokyo. It makes for really nice pictures, so you'll see lots of tourists gather around the area.

Next, we hit up the Meiji Shrine right beside Harajuku. The Meiji Shrine is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. The shrine was completed and dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken in 1920, eight years after the passing of the emperor and six years after the passing of the empress. The shrine was destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt shortly thereafter.

We got the chance to visit the the world's tallest self supporting steel tower.

At 333 meters high, Tokyo Tower is 13 meters taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower. We went up 150 meters to the main observatory deck and caught a bird's eye view of Tokyo. You can see we had lots of fun around the deck just observing the scenes and the views.

Our last stop was crossing the Rainbow Bridge, where we were treated to stunning views of the Tokyo Bay. We made our way to the man made islands of Odaiba and got to check out some cutting edge architecture as well as the night view of Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge. It was really a great way to cap off the official first day of the tour.

We made our way back to the hotel around 5 PM and took the time to stock up on some warm clothes since we were going to be heading up to the mountains. We knew we were going to be in for some cold weather, so our goal was to check off our list before the night was over. This included gloves, socks, beanies, thermals, and what not. I am a notoriously limited packer, but at least I was able to manage with what I had. The other guys definitely needed to stock up on the necessities at Daiso and UNIQLO for good measure.

It's safe to say that I'm ready for our expedition into the mountains. Once again, it's time to knock out early for tomorrow. Hopefully the weather won't be too bad!