Monday, September 4, 2017

The Philosopher's Path

 

The Philosopher's Path, or Philosopher's Walk, got its name from 20th century professor Nishida Kitaro, who used his daily walk along the canal as a meditation ritual. Its famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring. During the rest of the year, it still provides a nice place for a stroll between the temples of northern Higashiyama. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Deluge at Fushimi Inari Taisha


Fushimi Inari Taisha is probably the most famous site in Japan. Even if you don't know its name, you've seen pictures - rows of thousands of brilliant orange torii gate, winding up a mountain. There are other Inari shrines around Japan, but aside from being the original, what makes this one so impressive is the sheer number of gates - said to be over 10,000. Inari is the Shinto god of rice, and given that rice was so important to the development of Japan that it used to be used as currency, Inari also represents prosperity. The torii gates are donated by companies and individuals, who pay between 400,000 to a million yen to have a gate with their name inscribed on it on the mountain. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Gardens of Tokyo


We set our alarms for 8:00am and were checked out of Bunka Hostel by 9:30ish. Arriving at Tokyo Station, Monica and I stashed our bags in a locker in the maze of underground passageways (it took us a good half hour to relocate that specific locker bank later - geo-tag your things).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nikko Day Trip


After crashing the night before, I woke up fairly early (6:00ish) to wrangle with T-Mobile again. This time, the tech I got discovered the problem - the band my phone runs on isn't supported in Japan. I was put out that none of the other techs (and myself, before leaving) hadn't figured this out already. (In my defense, I had checked - I'd just managed to plug in the wrong version of my phone.)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Western Tokyo


On our first full day in Tokyo, I'd planned for us to tackle the western side of the city. It's where a lot of the icons of Tokyo are located - the famous Shibuya crossing and Harajuku, to name a couple. The sky was gorgeous and blue and the weather not as hot as I'd worried - though we were still sweating within blocks of the hostel. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Senso-ji, Night and Day


When I started planning our trip to Japan, the idea of using not just Tokyo - but Senso-ji Temple in particular - to bookend our trip, started to appeal to me. I'd read the temple was great to visit at night, as it was illuminated and empty. (For some perspective, Senso-ji and and Meiji Shrine are tied for 'world's most-visited religious site'.) We could experience its beauty in peace when we arrived and then visit it during regular hours on our last day in Japan, getting some last-minute souvenir shopping done in the bargain.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Goshuin-cho

 

I'm so happy that I discovered shuin before arriving in Japan. When I was looking at souvenir ideas (guys, I was so prepared for this trip, you have no idea...) I came across websites devoted to these neat little books, called goshuin-cho. The name means "honorable red stamp book" and it works almost as a shrine and temple passport. You pay 300 yen and a monk or kannushi will first stamp your page with red ink and then - this is the cool part - will calligraph the name of the temple and the date you visited over the stamps. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Travel Journaling (now with more Japan!)

I finally feel ready to write about my next destination - Japan! My cousin Lara has been teaching English in Matsue for the past two years, and my cousin Monica and I decided we need to visit before she leaves in August. We found an amazing deal on tickets to Tokyo and will be headed that way in July, in time for both our birthdays.

 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

9/11 Memorial Museum and One World Observatory

 
May 2001

The thing about September 11th, 2001, is that it happened to all Americans… but it happened to some more than others. The facts and the times of that day are stationary, creating a framework, but woven around it are millions of different experiences. Individual threads are wound around the steel structure of events – some loosely, some painfully tight. 

Quick Eats Near Grand Central Terminal

Ess-A-Bagel 831 3rd Ave.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hamilton - An American Muscial


"I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot"

I first heard about Hamilton on one of my favorite pop-culture boards, in early spring 2016. I downloaded the OCR to see what all the fuss was about, played it alongside the lyrics on Rap Genius as suggested, and ugly-cried my way through the last third. I loved it. I needed tickets for it. Sometime over the next few months, a bootleg video copy surfaced on a Broadway site and managed to find its way into my possession. I was watching it when the next batch of tickets unexpectedly went on sale and thereby missed my shot for that go round (karma in action). I planned carefully for the next release date; I was online the moment they went on sale. Ticketmaster was lagging like crazy, but - I managed to get an orchestra ticket for President’s Day weekend. (The joys of being single!) Most of the original cast had already announced their departure dates and the rest soon followed suit, which dulled my excitement a little, but I was still flailing at my chance to be in “The Room Where It Happens”.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Stay at the Barclay


Last time I was in New York, I was frantically searching for apartments and slept on what felt like a gym mat on an upper bunk in a $50 hostel on the Upper West Side. My life now is totally different than it was three years ago - luckily, the latter half of "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere" proved true, even if the former was a bust. Knowing I was only going to be in town for a night or two, and knowing February isn't peak tourist season, I decided to try my luck with Midtown hotels.