I am lucky to get to travel as much as I do for work, but it is not all fun and games like it might seem. My time abroad is primarily work-related, and any spare time I plan out to the best of my ability to maximize time off. Japan is on the heavier side for work, with smaller venue sizes and densely populated areas. More shows are therefore required to get all of the guests in to see their favourite Disney characters. Once we completed a two week rehearsal period, we began with shows in Sendai, which is located North East of Tokyo by about an hour and a half via shinkansen train. With only one usable day off in Sendai, I made a quick day trip over to Matsushima, but rather than take the train the whole way, I opted for the ferry from Shiogama. This option does take longer and cost more, but if you are in the area and planning visiting Matsushima, I would highly recommend the ferry ride. I think the fog and light rain made the ferry ride more interesting because small islands are popping up out of the water all over the place. I had to go over and walk across Fukuurabashi bridge and do a lap of Fukuurajima island.
After we finished shows in Sendai, there was scheduled to be two days off before the show would travel to the next city, but I wanted to go and see more of Japan. My parents had come over to visit and see Japan for themselves, so I hopped on the Shinkansen to Tokyo and then transferred to a bus and met them in the town of Fujiyoshida. We spent two days down by the mountain and had initially planned on climbing overnight so experience sunrise from the top of the tallest mountain in the country. Unfortunately, we were unable to climb because the official opening of the climbing season was delayed by over a week this year from a landslide that occurred a few weeks prior.
While we had the time in the area, my parents and I made it over to the North shore of Lake Kawaguchiko to experience the lavender festival that was taking place. Under ideal circumstances, we would have been able to see Mount Fuji in the background with the Lavendar, but we still enjoyed wandering the Japanese garden.
The next day We got up and still had no view of Fuji, we were told by a local that "she is very shy" and was hiding in the fog. We boarded the train and started heading back to Tokyo to spend a few days in the big city. The ride through the forested mountains was exciting, and we were able to relax while checking out the beautiful countryside. When we got to our hotel, we were too early to check-in, but they held out bags so we could go out and explore. We walked up through Hie-jinja Shrine and all the way around the Imperial Palace. It turned out to be roughly a 6km walk, but we were able to make the most out of the early afternoon. The hotel was just a few minutes walk from the Akasaka-mitsuke station, and when we returned from our walk we sat down, had some water and rested before heading to the train station to go to Shibuya crossing. I have been a few times before, but it is such an interesting location, with so many people moving here there and everywhere it is nice to be able to sit and watch the chaos from the second floor of Starbucks with a drink in hand. We walked from there into Harajuku and grabbed some amazing gyoza at Harajuku Gyoza and walked through the awesome little shopping streets that seem to wind on endlessly.
The next day, we walked from our hotel again (I like getting to see more of the city by foot rather than by car or train if possible) and stopped at a very cool, and SUPER EXPENSIVE coffee shop called Glitch, where you pick your beans to be ground for your own personal cup of pour over. Don't get me wrong, the coffee was amazing, and it is in the bottom of a very cool pod hotel, but the price was a bit steep for my liking.
We continued walking with our coffees towards the National Art Center, Tokyo. It is an amazing piece of architecture and the area it is in is quite nice as well. We stopped at a Mercedes Benz dealer/ showroom that is nearby, and got a bite to eat in their little cafe. Mom and dad split some toast that had the three pointed star toasted into it. There is something about the bread here, it just tastes so good.
We spent the remainder of the day walking around Tokyo midtown and tried to get to a rooftop viewing platform to give us a view of the city as the sun set, but unfortunately it was closed for cleaning, so we found another cafe, grabbed a bite to eat, and then stopped at a bridge overpass for a photo opportunity that I saw.