During my two weeks in Japan, I truly wanted to immerse myself into their culture as much as possible. Experience new things, learn more about the way of life, their mannerisms, and everything in between. One of the activities we did as a group was visit the Sensoji Temple after getting all dressed up in traditional Kimono wear. The Kimono Rental Shop we visited and had the pleasure of working with was Yae. You can find them here if you are interested at all! Know that if you are, you need to make a reservation to rent a Kimono ahead of time, and depending on how busy it is, you can rent the day of. Always good to book as soon as possible!
We took our trains from our home-away-from-home near Hoya Station all the way to Asakusa where Yae & Sensoji Temple reside. Before our appointment to get dressed in the Kimonos, we explored the streets nearby and found many different shops & little cafes. Since it was about lunch time, we all split up to grab a bite to eat. Being on vacation, I of course thought ice cream as a good lunch. So my brother & I headed to a cute little ice cream shop called Ice Tokyo! They do the cute rolled ice cream and make it right in front of you! They were SUPER delicious and we enjoyed them thoroughly. Especially the cute & tasty toppings!
After eating, we all headed to Yae for our appointments. They dressed us & did our hair quickly & beautifully! It was also fairly busy, and yet they were cranking people out constantly & efficiently. I would say that we were inside for no more than 30 minutes, that's including us ladies getting our hair done up! We all met outside and then headed to the Sensoji Temple.
The temple was so vibrant & beautiful! It is a very popular temple to visit within Tokyo. There is also a shopping street between the Temple's gates. We took most of our Kimono portraits in front of the outer gate since that was the least crowded area of the temple, and it was still pretty crowded, but we didn't really let that bother us or our experience as everyone tends to be very considerate of each other in Japan.
If you ever plan to rent kimonos, especially as a foreigner, prepare to have random strangers take your photos! It wasn't long after we left Yae that we noticed several people taking pictures of us with their phones & cameras as we were walking around the temple. My brother & I even had a random woman who also was wearing a Kimono want pictures with us! Of course we took some because, why not? :)
We explored the shopping street which held a lot of Japanese sourvenirs. Fans, snacks, traditional wear, many different things! It was really neat to experience & to see! This Temple is also known for being one of the most colorful ones in the Tokyo area, which if you haven't noticed, I love me some colors.
As we were exploring the streets in Asakusa in our kimonos, I couldn't help but take so many photos of us all. It was something that I had wanted to do ever since I planned on going to Japan, so this was definitely a personal highlight of my trip & will be an experience I remember for as long as I live. Especially because I was with some of the best people I have the blessing to call my dear friends.
We started talking about returning our Kimonos once we found some vendors advertising a Jungle Cafe! They were out in the streets with some owls that you could see up close & personal! They told us that the Cafe was filled with owls, otters, & other cool creatures! Of course, we had to go. Japan is known to have very differently themed cafes, so we had to check it out. We all agreed that we should do it after we were out of our Kimonos to ensure we didn't get any messes from animals on them, especially since some owls can fly around the cafe!
When it comes to it being called a "Cafe", there wasn't any food, only a vending machine with drinks that you got a token for upon paying for your entry fee. You could buy food though for some of the animals! My husband actually got a special ticket from one of the outside vendors for a free cup of food for the otters, so he got to feed those cute little guys which he thoroughly enjoyed.
The owls were so gorgeous to see, and it was even cooler that we could pet most of them! All of the photos we took in there were on our phones since actual cameras were not allowed in there.
After our neat experience with the animals at the Jungle Cafe, my brother & I broke off from the rest of the group and headed back to Tokyo to head to an Aimer concert! If you know anything about my brother Alex from my previous posts, he's an aspiring musician who takes a lot of influences from Japanese artists. Aimer is one of his favorites, and being in Japan, his biggest goal was to see a concert in Japan. Whether that be a random local show or seeing someone he knew of already!
For anyone interested in going to a concert in Japan that lives outside of the country, you need to buy your tickets ahead of time through a proxy service. Typically, you cannot buy tickets for a Japanese concert unless you are a resident in Japan just because of how the venues & ticket services work. However, if it is a bigger artist, that could change. Just really depends, so make sure to do your research to see if you need a proxy or not! If you end up needing a proxy, my brother used https://www.japanconcerttickets.com/ which he has nothing but positive things to say about it! They were very personable, helped him with the process, and got my brother the tickets to the show! Sure, it was a little more than the base ticket price cause we had to pay the ticket price & a service fee for them helping us get tickets, but it was well worth it to my brother.
We didn't take any photos during the show as cameras were strictly not allowed, but here's some photos my brother took from his phone of us at the venue and inside!
Going to a Japanese concert was definitely a very unique experience for us both. We have been to many concerts, but nothing like this! Coming from America where people are constantly cheering & moving during a concert, it was a very stark difference coming to a concert in Japan where they are very quiet and still through the concert unless the performer instructed them to clap to the beat of the song or wave their hands. Of course, there was some people moving a little bit to the songs, but compared to American concerts, they were very still.
It was just very interesting to witness! In between songs, it would get incredibly quiet. Too quiet for a concert hall filled with hundreds of people compared to what we were used to. It was very fun though, and an evening filled with wonderful music! We also had the pleasure of seeing Amazarashi who opened for Aimer! They recently had a song in one of My Hero Academia's intros, for my fellow anime enthusiasts! Their performance was very eye capturing as they had a screen in front of the band, so it was like watching a live action music video as they played videos over the screen with the band members still shining through the screen. Something I wish I could have recorded a bit of the show just to give you a taste of what it was like, but again, cameras were strictly a no-go here.
This video linked here gives you an idea of what it looked like:
Aimer's performance which came after Amazarashi was just stunning. She sang beautifully & effortlessly, and I am very happy to have joined my brother to see such an amazing performance by her. She didn't have any flashy screens during her set, but her voice & melodies were more than enough to capture our attention! Alex was of course very moved by her songs & being able to see her live, especially after not touring for a while! He was definitely very excited when he heard she would be touring while we were there, so being able to see her in concert was a very special treat for him. Plus he got to check off his most anticipated experience to do while in Japan!
Though the day was quite busy & long, we had plenty of fun and many memories created to keep for years to come! I know that I said this day with the Kimono experience was a personal favorite event to do, but honestly looking back, the whole entire day was probably the biggest highlight for me as it was just filled with a variety of activities! Thinking back to this day makes me excited to visit this beautiful country again :)