Winter vacation flew by with a mix of desk-warming (sitting at my desk at school while everyone is on vacation because my contract requires me to do so) and fun vacations planned! I wish I could share every detail of my trip but that would be the longest story ever so I will share some highlights and keep it short and simple. So here begins the story of our winter vacation to Japan and China:
First stop: Osaka
- Big Bang: My two friends and myself went to see Big Bang perform at Osaka Dome and let me tell you it was the best concert I have ever been to and will ever go to! I am excited to share I also saw them for their last concert this past weekend in Seoul on the very last night of their year end concert. They will all have to enter the mandatory South Korean military in the next 5 years so don’t have another tour set for a very long time. I know friends and family laugh at me for being so in love with this group but they have worked their asses off to be where they are and they are true talent and for that I 100% respect them. They write their own songs and work hard to be good figures in the media spotlight and are actually good people overall and have been for the past 10 years. One of the guys actually grew up in Gwangju and one of my teachers knows his aunt and uncle, etc. The list goes on but anyways…if there was ever a concert in the world to see…it’s theirs.
- Explored Osaka: Our Airbnb (literally a small room with a bed on the floor and the bathroom was on the 4th floor and shower on the 3rd floor)…was on this super ritzy street with the highest end brands you could think of…even the car stores there were Lamborghini and things I could never ever afford. Pretty amazing to see. and the area we stayed near was so clear!
- Went to a fun club one night to go dancing and ended up going to Japanese Karaoke at 4 am singing our hearts away – “Let it goooo! Let it goooo!”
After the concert and exploring Osaka for 3 days Claire and I took the bullet train to Tokyo.
Second stop: Tokyo
- I can now say I have been on the fastest train in the world. Woohoo! Exploring Tokyo was amazing too.
- Their subway system is INSANE. Literally insane. I thought that Seoul was huge with it’s 25 million people but nope Tokyo has 38 million and their subway is a mix of a million different turns and tunnels. Claire and I have both traveled a lot but we both got a bit stressed trying to navigate it but once we figured it out it was easy!
- I found Japan to be much more western than I expected. It almost felt like we were home and on the street corners of Chicago or something. It was refreshing and nice. People also didn’t stare as much.
- The older Japanese men and women dressed so well and the younger generation dressed fascinating. I loved seeing all the amazing fashion and exploring the areas.
- Tsjukiji Fish Market – We explored the market and ended up eating so much sushi fresh sushi and sashimi from the sea. The salmon was AMAZING. and other amazing foods like mochi!
- Harajuku is awesome: they have crepe stands everywhere which were SO good and the fashion was amazing there as well.
- Tokyo SkyTree Tower: I recommend everyone to go here! It’s the second tallest building in the world and you can go up 350 floors for a 360 degree view of Tokyo! We went at night and it was an incredible experience. I’m not big on dramatic proposals but I decided if anyone wants to propose to me there I would be okay with that 🙂
- Meiji Shrine: This huge garden was beautiful. You can walk through gravel roads filled with trees around it and enter a beautiful shrine. I think it’s definitely worth seeing and it felt good to see some beautiful nature in the middle of the city.
- Fashion: Although Japan has incredible fashion I still believe Seoul is the fashion capital of the world…and I have now been to London, Spain, Japan, New York City and many other cities but I will say that Seoul beats them all. It’s classy and simple and beautiful and EVERYONE is dressed so well. Their fashion is unbeatable in my opinion and anytime I hear someone say “your outfit looks so Korean” it’s the best compliment in the world.
Last Destination: Shanghai
- Spa day: Claire and I ended up going to the fanciest 4 stories high spa. The man who owns the airbnb that we stayed in suggested us to go there since we asked him for a recommendation for a massage somewhere. The first thing they make you do is get naked and shower in front of like 5 chinese old ladies and they offer to bath you with salts and mud haha We ended up getting a 90 minute massage couples massage in the same room with these two old chinese men haha we kept laughing at first because we didn’t realize we’d be having a couples massage next to each other. and then later on we got a 60 minute food massage, spa, shower and hot tub and these Hawaiian outfits to lounge around in haha and it was unlimited food! Pretty much the most awkward and amazing experience I have ever had. And honestly I would go back in a heartbeat.
- Shopping: Shanghai and it’s shopping is amazing. Unbelievably cheap and it’s so fun to haggle over the cost of everything and try to bring it down. They drove a hard bargain but I was determined and we ended up getting some really great things there.
- The food was AMAZING. It’s not like Chinese food at home at all. That food is a joke compared to the food in actual China. It was so delicious. Claire and I ended up stumbling into this fancy restaurant by mistake and sitting down where everyone was wearing tuxes and serving you. It was still really affordable because of the exchange rate and we ended up having the most delicious food. I will definitely go back to Shanghai again.
- Shanghai skyline: The Bund in Shanghai is along this beautiful boardwalk along the river. It has a perfect view of the city skyline and at night it’s beautiful. We spent a long time there just taking photos and walking around. Funny story…A Chinese woman asked if we wanted her to take our photo so I gave her my camera. Unexpectedly it turned into a 30 minute photo shoot. She kept telling “Beautiful ladies! Look here! Oh that’s good! Oh this lighting is perfecttttt! Oh do this! Do that! Over here ladies! now look over there!” Pretty soon other people must have thought we were famous as they kept asking to take their photos with us and secretly taking photos of us. We couldn’t stop laughing. The Chinese woman was wearing this long beautiful red scarf and she said “Wait! You wear this scarf…it will look PERFECT!” And she wrapped her long scarf around me and had me take about 50 more photos with the scarf. It was so funny and for a tiny bit we felt famous.
Honestly this post doesn’t do justice on all the cultural experiences and memories we had in each country but it touches on just a few fun memories. I loved exploring Japan and China and felt like I could really tell the differences between the cultures of Korea, Japan and China especially after living in Korea now for 7 months (whoa where did time go?!). I think that people are soooo kind in Korea as it’s known for that but they are also unreal kind in Japan as well. I think that Japan feels so much more western compared to Korea or China. China had a different vibe from Japan and it got us out of our comfort zone a bit more. I think it’s so important to keep growing like that as much as you can. Overall everyone was very kind to us in Japan and China and we couldn’t have asked for a better trip. I recommend Japan and China to all 🙂