Kathy and Melissa's Trip of a Lifetime! travel blog

Thunder Gate entrance to Senso-ji Temple

washing before entering Senso-ji temple

Five-storeyed Pagoda at Senso-ji

Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, also known as Kannon-do

figuring out the subway system

trees around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo

Garden behind Tokyo National Museum

beginning of cherry blossoms in Tokyo

beginning of cherry blossom season in Tokyo

cherry blossoms

not sure what they`re called, but people put prayers on them

vending machines everywhere

eating raw salmon eggs, just like the old Miyakes

sharing a Kirin in Tokyo

downtown Tokyo - Shinjuku

ladies working in the casino

beautiful mountain town of Nikko

Shin-kyo bridge in Nikko

walking around Nikko National Park

at Tosho-gu shrine

hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil

at Tosho-gu shrine

passing Mtn. Fuji while traveling on the bullet train to Kyoto

Before I start on the Japan part of our trip, I have to tell you about our last day in Vietnam. For those that remember my massage in Egypt, this one is equivalent or better. How I get myself into these predicaments always amazes me. The last day in Vietnam had to have been the hottest and most humid of them all. Melissa was fighting a cold so she didn`t want the air conditioner on. So what that meant was simply standing in our room naked was like being in a wet sauna. I made it until around 2ish and then needed some relief. I decided to go to the hotel`s spa and have a sauna and massage. Melissa declined to go. So off I went and found out there was a deal of a free sauna and a massage for $8, wow just like Watercourse Way.

So I go into the changing room and out of 200 lockers, mine appears to be right next to this young Japanese woman. Alana just like our lockers for 19 years. We both undressed and ask for a robe, the woman who is in attendance hands us only a towel and says in her best English, "very big". The towel barely covers the essentials. Now we escorted by a male into the sauna portion and he starts turning everything on and trying to explain how it all works while we hang out in our little towels. I can`t figure out why it is taking him so long to leave. Once he leaves we both get into the sauna and try to communicate as best we can. Fortunately she has some English skills because I certainly don`t speak a word of Japanese. On the way out to get my massage I finally find a robe. As soon as I get the robe on, men start walking into the sauna we just came out of with their little towels. It is co-ed, everyone else seems to understand that but me. It is hard sometimes to get use to all the cultural differences when you are traveling. I get my room and when I walk in I realize there is very little space around the bed and I start to wonder how she is going to manuever around. As I lie down on the bed in walks this little tiny young woman chewing gum, she smiles and says something in Vietnamese and then jumps up on the bed and sits on my butt while she massages my back. As my mind is trying to adjust to this, she stands up and starts walking all over my back and legs. Now this isn`t Watercourse Way, I`m having a hard time not bursting out laughing. Ouch, this hurts!!!

Now she gets off and tells me to turn over. All I can think about is what`s coming next. Well she grabs my boobs and crotch, starts laughing and then jumps on me like a cat. Jesus, what is this, get me out of here my brain is screaming. I say to myself, do I just hit her or throw her off, no this could be a country where they throw you in jail for assault, this woman is about as big as one of my thighs. So I decide to take another tactic and tell her I`m old enough to be her mother. I think she`s getting it now or at least the mere fact I`m freaking out. Just like the cat she is, she decides to taunt me a little and takes about 10 minutes of talking to me in Vietnamese before we`re done. She gets off and then hands me a little pink slip for her tip. I can`t get out of the room fast enough and run into the little Japanese woman in the dressing room. She looks relaxed, did she go for it or did they even offer it up I`m thinking. Can`t ask, she doesn`t speak English well enough. We get out to pay the tip and they are expecting an additional $8 for that fabulous massage. I refuse and leave her 20 percent, they strongarm the Japanese woman for the $8 even though I`m sure by now she didn`t go for it. I get back to the room and Melissa informs me she was pretty sure that was going to happen, that`s why she didn`t go. Okay, now I feel stupid. Oh well, another one of my learning experiences. Now for our trip in Tokyo.

Tokyo city is amazing with all its neon lights and billboards. Downtown is actually one BIG billboard, a whole lot more than Time Square in Manhattan. We left Vietnam with a temperature of about 100F and arrived in Tokyo where it has been raining and about 50F. Really quite a contrast. We love Japan, it is so clean and well organized. Everything runs on time. And everyone is so polite.

We stayed in Asakusa which is about 15 minutes out of the center of Tokyo City. It is actually the oldest part of Tokyo that survived the bombings at the end of WWII. Japan is interesting because it has very little English anywhere, so trying to figure out where you`re going and what you`re going to eat can be quite interesting at times. Taking the subway was always an adventure.

We`ve had a chance to explore some of the shrines and museums close to where we are staying, but we also took a day trip to the beautiful mountain town of Nikko to see the oldest and most famous shrine, Tosho-gu, which was originally built in the 8th century as a training centre for Buddhist monks and then dedicated as a shrine to the first the first Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu.

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