Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Great Reunion: A Weekend in Tokyo

Early in the month of May, Melissa spotted a status update from her dear friend since middle school, Mindy Litton. The status claimed that Mindy was in Japan. Knowing that Mindy's sister was working in Japan, this was a reasonable place for Mindy to be, however, seeing that South Korea is not all too far from Japan, it was unreasonable that Mike and Melissa should not work their tails off to figure out a way to have a happy little reunion in Tokyo while Mindy was on this side of the globe.

And that it is the beginning to this tale of The Great Reunion. The weekend of May 12-13th found the Harrington's hopping from bus to plane to train to subway for a whirlwind tour of the world's largest city and a reunion with the world's sweetest Litton sisters and the boyfriend to one, Alex Ly.

Early on the morning of May 12th, (we're talking like 3 am early) Mike and Melissa groggily made their way to Incheon airport where they caught an 8 am flight to Narita Airport, took an hour express train into Tokyo center and frantically searched for a dark-haired Mindy and her equally dark-haired boyfriend, no easy task. Finally, while Mike was off checking dark corners for the couple and Melissa waited at the main subway gates a voice shouted Melissa's name and within minutes the first hug of the reunion was underway.

Thrilled to be together, but eager to fill their bellies, the now group of four (Mindy, Alex, Mike and Melissa) made their way into a department store where they grabbed a quick, delicious bite to eat.


Bellies satisfied, the group was then on their way to the Tokyo Hilton where they planned to drop off their belongings (which included an air mattress from Mandy's place for the most comfortable sleeping arrangements possible). Little did the Harrington's realize that in heading to the Hilton they would end up at the subway station for Tokyo Disneyland. Therefore, rather than head over to the hotel, the Harrington's meandered the outskirts of Disneyland which showcased fountains, overpriced shops, flower arrangements and even an impressive magic-type show.


Once they were reunited with Alex and Mindy the crew made their way back toward the city where Mindy confidently lead to the Imperial Palace which was unfortunately closed but still allowed for a few nice photos. Enjoying the setting sun and clear blue skies, the group continued walking until they stumbled upon a shrine which they explored before grabbing a few convenience store snacks and making their way to Shibuya where they were scheduled to meet Mandy, the birthday girl/other-part-of-the-great-reunion!

Once the group had gathered Mandy as well as Aki (a friend of Mindy's from Dickinson State University, North Dakota) they made their way to a 270 restaurant where everything is ordered from a touch screen menu (English translation free of charge) for the stellar price of 270 yen (about $3). While stuffing their mouths with sushi, takoyaki (octopus-dough balls), yakisoba (noodles), Japanese beef, fried rice and other deliciousness Mandy and Aki's friend Kishin and Hosana joined the group and soon all were singing a round of "Happy Birthday" to Mandy as she blew out the candles on her strawberry banana crepe (also available at the 270).

Due to their ridiculously early morning start and the subway schedule, Mindy, Mandy, Alex, Mike and Melissa made their way to the hotel where Mike and Melissa fell instantly to sweet dreams while the others...celebrated a little longer.

The following morning the crew was thrilled to peek out their window and see the top of Mt. Fuji as the backdrop to Tokyo Bay. With images of the great mountain dancing in their minds, the crew got ready for the day's outing which was set to include the best bowls of ramen ever enjoyed by a group of five Americans, a peaceful walk up to a large and famous shrine which was playing host to a number of weddings and a leisurely stroll through Shinjuku famous for the elaborately dressed and sheer number of shoppers and walkers on a Sunday afternoon.

And, all too soon it was time for the Harrington's to make their way back to the Narita Express, the airport, their plane, Incheon and finally their bed in Daejeon.

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