WHAT I DID FOR MY MOM'S 60TH BIRTHDAY TRIP TO JAPAN

For my mom's 60th birthday trip, the family did an Asia trip to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Shanghai. Our first leg of the trip was Tokyo, Japan and we were all excited to go! My mom had been to Japan 11 years ago, but a lot had changed since then. So she was excited to go back and see how it had progressed. For myself, Japan is one of those dream destinations I wanted to visit. So, of course, I couldn't wait to explore all that it had to offer! I wish I could have done more in the time allotted to us on this leg of the trip, but I was with my parents...and they aren't no spring chicken. So when I was planning this trip, I had to space out the sites and add in more "rest" times in the itinerary. But I'm not complaining because this was a great teaser for future trips to this amazing country.

Imperial Palace & Gardens - We only got to see the exterior of it because they are apparently closed between 12/25-1/7 of every year. I did not know this, and was a bit disappointed we couldn't explore the inside further. But just seeing the exterior of the Palace walls with the moat was enough to hold me over till next time. 

Senso-Ji - This temple is the most famous in Japan and it shows the authentic cultural side of Japan we see on TV. I loved coming here because there are a bunch of little gift shops and food vendors to enjoy while visiting the temple. If you haven't bought souvenirs by the time you visit this site, it's a great place to stock up. There's also this rickshaw that you can ride for about $65/person (30 min) that'll take you around the neighborhood and explain the sites to you in English. Asakusa, the neighborhood in which Senso-Ji is in, is known to have these Tabi shoes (which are traditional temple shoes), but I couldn't find any in the neighborhood. I loved the Persimmon-colored pair I had from Sou Sou in San Francisco, but they no longer make it.

Tsukiji Fish Market - I was a bit underwhelmed coming to this famous fish market. It's actually not that incredibly big, but I was on the outside markets so maybe that was why. Apparently, there is a list you can get on (limited to 150 people/day) to obtain access into the actual bidding market where they auction off the fish to restaurants. We went around 11 am in the morning, so all the hustle and bustle of the market must have passed. It was still fun though to walk around and explore the restaurants, fish vendors, and cutlery shops. Visually, it will keep you entertained.

Dinner at Maisen - This restaurant chain is known for their pork katsu, and rightfully so. I'm used to Korean katsu which is thinner, but the Japanese version is much thicker and tastier. I would say that this was the best meal I had in Japan during my trip! The closest Maisen to our hotel was the one inside a shopping mall, so it wasn't the best representation of what the original restaurant might have been. But it was all about the food anyway. You can choose from a low end pork to the higher end, ranging from $16-$36. Keep in mind that they're limited in stock when it comes to the lower end pork, cause when we went it was sold out. Every katsu set you order comes with a side of unlimited "coleslaw", which is basically shredded cabbage drizzled with ponzu sauce. It might sound basic, but it was still good! Highly recommend coming here to eat!