We were pumped forth from the heart of the city, riding along its arteries in a train car. My own heart beat with the tempo of the train as it flew over the tracks as the advertisements along the subway walls sped by, at first legible but soon becoming a blur as the train caught up to speed. Not that I could read the advertisements anyways; though I did live in Japan for a year as an English teacher I never did pick up the language.
“I can’t believe we’re really here. I never thought I would be back in Tokyo again.” I said, tilting my head back to look up at my husband.
“But this time we get to experience it together,” my husband, David, said in my ear just loud enough for me to hear him over the noise of the train.
David chuckled and gripped my shoulder a bit as the train lurched. We were so tightly packed in that everyone on the train leaned and tilted back into place as one. I was wondering how I would get off the train in my wedding dress without its small train trampled all over; but we’d managed to make it on the train without a problem, so I was sure I could make it off intact. I’m sure people were staring at us foreigners in our wedding garb, but we were too giddy with excitement to notice.
Our adventure really began more than two years ago in a completely different world – the world of online games. Lots of people these days meet online and lots of couples play games together, but I think it’s special that out of the many games we could have been playing and the hundreds of thousands of people we could have been playing with, we managed to find each other. After a year and a half of traveling back and forth travel and tear filled goodbyes in airports, we realized that we wanted to build a life together. There wasn’t a flashy proposal, there wasn’t even a ring. There was just him and me and the thousands of miles of distance between us that we would soon bring to a close.
We left for Japan the day after our wedding in Florida. Japan was an easy choice, being at the top of David’s travel list. Similarly, choosing Traveler’s Joy was an easy choice. Although we probably could have put this $10,000 trip on credit and used any gifts we received from our wedding to pay off our cards, Traveler’s Joy made it possible for us to have the honeymoon of our dreams without accruing more debt than we already had from our wedding.
Our honeymoon was a magical merger of modern and traditional, much like Japan itself. The Century Southern Tower hotel we stayed at in Shinjuku, Tokyo was perfectly positioned to give us access to everywhere we wanted to go in the city, and David was really fond of the continental breakfast they served every morning. Especially this breakfast drink called Banana Milk, which tasted pretty much exactly how you think it would.
From our home base we explored the ultra-modern and fashion forward Akihabara Electric Town and Harajuku in central Tokyo, gazed in wonder at the incredible mechanical displays and still frames of animation at the Studio Ghibli Museum. In nearby Yokohama we sampled raumen from around the world at the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum, made our own cup noodles at the Cup Noodle Museum and saw dancing Halloween themed pikachus in the Pokemon Center. We even got a picture with the famous statue of Hachiko outside Shibuya Station.
Speaking of photos, my husband is not a big fan. Knowing that I probably wouldn’t get too many photos of us together on our honeymoon, I asked Dave if he might be willing to do a small photo shoot instead.
When I told him where I wanted to do the photoshoot it was an easy sell; the Final Fantasy themed Eorzea Café. Our tour company, Inside Japan Tours, managed to negotiate with the restaurant and with Square Enix to allow us into the restaurant an hour early so we could have our photoshoot there. The pure look of glee on my husband’s face when we walked into the restaurant, and heard the epic theme music he loves so well, is something I never want to forget. I’m so happy that our photographer, Masato Kubo, was perfectly able to capture his joy and the intricate fantastical detail of the café.
After Tokyo we took the bullet train to historic Kyoto. Unfortunately, David got sick in Kyoto. Between being passed out cold on his futon and dosing himself with medicine, he managed to enjoy a bath in our in-room cedar tub and all the incredible dinners that our ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) prepared for us.
Nothing tests a marriage quite like trying to find a pharmacy, not to mention the right medicine, for your sick, grumpy husband in a foreign country when you don’t know the language. At least David had fun watching me try to google and pantomime the Japanese words for nasal irrigation spray to the clerk at the pharmacy.
Once Dave was feeling a little better, we also got to see a live fall performance of geiko (apprentice geisha) at the Pontocho Kaburenjo Theater and stroll through the peaceful winding pathways of the Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
On our way home to Saskatoon we watched out the windows of the airplane as the city shrank away to pinpoints of life beneath us. We were tired, and at the time we couldn’t even think of traveling again, but within a few days we were already discussing where we wanted to go next.
According to the wizard, Gandalf, the world is not in your books and maps – it’s out there. And Traveler’s Joy helps you get there.