The first view was from the outside 150 meters below the main observatory. After going to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (observatory located at 202 meters high), which is basically the Tokyo Sky Tree except the TMG building is free, this experience was like eating leftovers from Thanksgiving (not as fresh but still good). Although the tower has a special observatory at 250 meters, it’s more expensive than the main observatory. And the views are just as beautiful.
At the entrance, there’s a little flower alley where you can take selfies or artistic close-ups with these pink beauties.
And this was just one side from the main observatory 150 meters high.
They have these little posters spread out on the countertops to show what you can see from that point of view from the tower.
And they have open floor windows where you can even see the view under you! It definitely gave me anxiety standing over clear glass 150 meters high. That same feeling you get holding your cell phone over the edge of the railing.
If you want to see beautiful views from the top of the Tokyo Tower, head to: 4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo 105-0011. But if you want the same views but a bit higher off the ground for FREE, I recommend going to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building located at: 2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 163-8001. Happy travels everyone!
A 50 min train ride and a 17 min walk later we arrive at the Kirin Brewery in Yokohama, Japan! There’s a little exhibit at the back of the lobby where you can learn about the different techniques they use and the science behind the creation of Kirin beer.
The FREE tour starts with an introduction in a theater showcasing the history behind the beer and the dedication behind the process of its evolution. After the short film, a tour guide takes you through the factory with its first stop at the malt and hops.
I swear the picture on the left isn’t what you think it is…but I learned a lot about finding the right kind of malt and hops to flavor the beer we all love and appreciate. The malt tasted just like what a grain of wheat should taste like: mild, dry, and a little nutty. The hops on the other hand slaps you in the face a bit at the very end with bitterness. Although these flowers aren’t the prettiest, they sure had a fragrant, refreshing scent almost like peppermint when you grind them in your hand to smell.
The second, third, and fourth stops are seeing the actual process of making the beer.
The top left picture shows these large barrel type machines, which is where the magic happens. This is where the water, malt, hops, and yeast become beer. As most of you probably know, the sugar is extracted from the grains and the yeast turns that sugar into alcohol. After that happens, it’s filtered so only the alcohol is left. This is called the first press, which is what they use for the premium beer, thus a stronger flavor. Then, they rinse the filtered grains with water and this is called the second press, which is like a watered down version of the first press (kind of like a Budlight consistency). Next, they mix in the hops for flavor. And finally, is filtered so only the liquid gold is left. The other two pictures map out the rest of the factory where the beer is put into the cans.
And finally, the pièce de résistance…the moment we all waited for…a FREE beer tasting.
They offer three types of beer at the counter: original brew, premium beer, and 100% malt beer. My absolute favorite was the premium beer. It had the most refreshing and strongest flavor of the three. You only have 20 minutes for the tasting but they offer 12-ounce glasses my friends…or you have the option for the 4-ounce (I think it was 4) if you don’t want to get tipsy.
Of course, I had a 12-ounce for two of the three beers and it was amaaazing. The Kirin Brewery in Yokohama is a must-see if you ever visit Japan. They offer English speaking guides on certain days/times so please schedule accordingly but since I happened to go on a day where an English guide wasn’t available, they accommodated me with a hard copy of the tour in English as they spoke Japanese. It was still a fun, fascinating, delicious tour and I would go again any day.
It was an exciting moment for me when I found out the two best people in the world who help me grow into the person I am now were coming to Japan to visit. One of the many reasons it was a great time for them to visit was my dirty apartment. It was time for a serious cleaning, especially the bathroom…but I’m not going to get into that because that would be way too graphic.
They arrived on April 8th and left on the 20th, which was yesterday. It was a very sad day to see them leave after having such an amazing staycation with them. I did a lot of “firsts” while they were here. I’ll be writing posts this week about the Kirin Brewery in Yokohama and the Ishikawa Sake Brewery. But I also went to Asakusa for the first time, enjoyed a drunken Izakaya night a couple times (that was a first to get very hammered in the presence of ma and pops with ma and pops), and we went to Tokyo Disneyland for the first time!
I really can’t explain how much I enjoyed them being here with me. I literally had a piece of home with me for the last week and a half here in Japan. A little stressful, unforgettable, fun-filled piece of home.
Last Monday, I took a stroll through Inokashira Park for the first time after enjoying a hardy avocado burger and potato wedges from Village Vanguard Diner near Kichijoji Station. I figured I had to work off the calories somehow. I made my way down to the lake where you’ll see ginormous swans and other vibrant paddle boats and row boats alike bumping into each other. It reminded me of when I went to the Philippines and was coerced into doing the painful job of rowing and crashing into other people repeatedly. But, I admit it was a little fun in all the humiliation of being uncoordinated.
The beautiful Sakuras hovered over the edges of the lake and dipped into it like how a waterfall goes right over a cliff. I highly recommend visiting Inokashira Park along with the many other picturesque mazes of nature all throughout Tokyo. This year about 30% of cherry blossoms were blooming by March 22nd and are now 80% gone (April 2nd). It was a good 11 days these beauties have served. And I can’t wait to see them next year.
My very first Hanami was near the Kudanshita Station with friends and yes I was a little tipsy from a few highballs and strong zeros… but all was well and it was absolutely beautiful. Yes, at night it’s a little different thus a slightly different experience but well worth the trip. If you scroll down…
…I also went to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park. Where it was crowded on a Tuesday afternoon at Disneyland. Granted, you have to pay 200 yen to get into the park and yes they check your bags for alcohol. I got pretty lucky at security thus pretty tipsy under cherry blossoms. Shh. A picnic under these beauties is tradition during this semi-one week season, which is why you see just a nanoscopic part of the picnic partakers partaking.
And of course, I went to the Nakameguro river that all tourists and locals know about just to see these babies bloom. The river runs almost 8 kilometers (if you’re metric) or 5 miles (if you’re imperial) and you can see and absorb the beauty nature generously gives to us selfish human beings alongside the entire river. Going to all these different places really makes me appreciate the one thing of many that we often forget and that many others don’t have: time.
Because I am a traveller I can look down on the birds and up at the fishes. I collect moments and can venture back in time to lost worlds. I seize life and simultaneously escape it at will. Because I am a traveller I envy no man at home.