January 2, 2017

I actually managed to wake up early this morning to get in a run! My first run in Japan and my first run of 2017. The plan was originally to do a lot of running while in Japan, but it just didn’t happen unfortunately… I ended up only running a mile around our hotel; it was still dark and I was wearing my American flag Pro Compression socks, so I wonder if I was getting some strange looks….ha.

The main agenda for this day: going to see the Emperor make one of his rare appearances. He only makes a public appearance for his birthday and on the second day of the new year, so we took this once in a lifetime opportunity.

In Tokyo Station, the station closest to the Imperial Palace grounds, we stopped for a quick breakfast of pastries before heading out to join the massive crowds. We had left our bags in the lockers provided inside the station so we could skip going through baggage security; we were still check before entering the grounds, but at least we weren’t carrying bags on us because my shoulders would have really been killing me after all that standing.

After lots of shuffling in line, and many minutes of standing in place, our group was finally allowed to start entering into the part of the Imperial Palace grounds that were off-limits all year except for the two occasions the Emperor makes an appearance.

We almost didn’t wait to see the Emperor after getting into the courtyard where he would appear to make his speech, but we are so glad that we waited. Experiencing the crowd franticlly waving their Japan flags and roaring in excitement when the Emperor and his family finally stepped out onto the glass balcony was magical. We also stuck near the far right side of the courtyard, where the exit was, so we could make a quick escape instead of pushing through the crowds; we had to meet Dr. Yoshida and Mori-san afterwards, so we needed to hurry!

Well, we got a little lost in Tokyo Station trying to find our locker we had used, but we made it right on time to meet our friends. We went to a kimono shop in Shinjuku, called Tokyo 135, and I was given an actual kimono. Guys, I am still speechless about it. Never have I ever even tried on a kimono before, so when shopping for the kimono, they had me try it on and oh boy, that fixed my posture right up. Such a surreal moment, as I had been dying to wear kimono while there. If only I would have worn it to one of the shrines we visited; Kyoto would have been the perfect place.

We hung out with Dr.Yoshida and Mori-san for a while, shopping for more Lucky Bags, and stopping for lunch at an udon joint that we made a point to come back to later in the trip; the udon and tempura were that good. I mean, look at it. Definitely one of my favorite meals in Japan that I miss so much.

Highlight of the Day

  • getting to try on kimono AND becoming the owner of it!

Favorite Food of the Day

  • UDON!

Favorite Snack of the Day

  • N/A

Favorite Drink of the Day

  •  peach tea

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