No big surprise here... it's Tokyo, Japan. But there are two places in Tokyo that have a special place in my heart. One is the island of Odaiba. It's the largest artificial island in Japan and sits in Tokyo Bay. It's also damn near impossible to get to, unless you take a scenic boat tour from one port near Asakusa temple, or happen to find the monorail that only connects you to the island within certain specific subway stations. I only found Odaiba through the generous guiding of my friend Sonoko.
I remember Odaiba for the amazing restaurants, shopping, and the coolest indoor amusement park/ gaming area I've ever been to. And... of course, the Giant Sky Wheel where Mariko and I
And then there's Ueno Park at the peak of the Sakura or Cherry Blossom festival. Years ago, I dreamed of being proposed to under the cherry blossoms in Ueno Park. By day you can sit under the trees on the tarps provided and read a book while feasting on yakisoba and chugging Chu-Hi, which is fruit-flavored beer.
Chu-Hi tastes better than it sounds. Really.
At night, the red lanterns light up and create a communal excitement unparalleled in a country where everyone safely keeps to themselves. Ueno Park during this time is one of the few places where I have felt connected to the culture around me and not a gaijin outcast.
I dream of going back to Tokyo again in the spring during the Sakura festival. I want to introduce this astonishing and crazy city to John and my children. Everytime I travel back to Japan, I feel reborn.
P.S. John found out about the whole proposal thing because he wanted to know what Chu-Hi was, and I happened to inadvertently read the whole paragraph on the sakura festival. I reassured him that the Melting Pot was an awesome place to propose because it had chocolate fondue, which Ueno Park does NOT have. I wanted to make him feel even better so I explained that he could always make my dream come true by taking me to Ueno Park and giving me *another* ring under the cherry blossoms because our 5 year anniversary is coming up. He laughed. I'm pretty sure he was laughing about the fruit-flavored beer though and not at the idea of whisking me away to my favorite place on earth and lavishing me with diamonds. That would be cruel.