Tokyo and Tokyo Tower

On our first full day in Tokyo, we journeyed around near our hotel. We found some shops and restaurants. Then we ventured off towards the Tsukiji market to check out the fish.

After wandering around the market sampling foods and taking tons of photos of fish, we saw a sign pointing towards a temple. Since there was no big plan today, so we walked over there.

It was a lovely building that we entered and I performed a Buddhist prayer as respect. The chanting and the incense inside added to the spirituality of the temple.

Then we walked towards “Don K”- a store filled with cheap junk. We laughed at the merchandise- my kids thought it was funny that dad was a shit head. I was mesmerized by the over stimulation in the store. Noises, sounds, videos, and colors attacked my senses. We picked up some bento box lunches and went back to the hotel.

After lunch, we all had a quick nap- the time change was still hitting us. By dinner, we were up and out the door making our way towards Tokyo Tower. On our way there we stopped at the Zojoji Temple. But as it was getting dark, there was only some of the outside to see. Lovely white cherry blossom trees were all around. (We plan on walking back during the day sometime this trip).

Once at Tokyo Tower, we went inside and checked out the stores. Our middle daughter loved the Hello Kitty merchandise. I had pre-purchased tickets for the Tokyo Tower Top Deck Tour since it had just reopened at the start of the month -they had limited tickets available. We were each given a device and ear piece that described the history of the tower as we slowly escalated to the Top Deck through a series of elevators.

Once we were at the top deck, it all became so much more than just a visit to Tokyo. Inside the top deck were angled reflective panels that gave a look of shattered glass. It was a beautiful expression of art. The 360° views of the city were stunning. I had timed out our tickets for the 8pm slot in order to view the night lights and the Disneyland Fireworks.

This was a great way to end our first full day in Tokyo- overlooking this amazing city.


Big in Japan

We made it to our destination. For some reason, I kind of stand out. Probably because I’m 6’8″ or a bit over 2 meters tall. I’m big in Japan.

We are excited to be here. There is so much to see. And I guess we have become a sight as well. Oh boy. Big In Japan is going through my head over and over. I tower over the crowds already just coming off the plane.

We arrived at 6:30pm Japan time. Which to us was 3:30am. After getting our bags and clearing customs, the first leg of our journey began. The part I was worried about- figuring out how to get to our hotel.

After a few moments of staring at the ticket machine for the monorail- I figured out what I needed and where we were heading. Luckily for me- my wife stayed away with the kids instead of crowding me. She knew I need a few moments peace to get it.

The monorail wasn’t too busy and it spoke in English at each stop. Ours was the final stop where everyone had to disembark. Smiles were showing up on our faces as the shock of being in new country overcame us.

Relief was coming over me. Off the train and we had to get to our hotel. This was the next part I worried about. The printed map was not very helpful:

As we walked, my son asked how I knew where we were going. I told him I had memorized our route using Google Maps and Google Street view. Figuring out how far from landmarks (7-11 and Denny’s- the ones I’d recognize). In about five minutes we were at the hotel and checking in. Our Tokyo adventure was continuing even in the lobby.

There is a little robot in our lobby named “Pepper” who was kinda neat. It was there as a sort of assistant to help if you had questions. It would follow a person’s eyes as it got near to them. The little guy looked at me and stared up. I think it was “blinking” in astonishment- the lights around its eyes were changing color.

After getting settled in our room for a few minutes, two of the kids and I wandered out to the 7-11 and grabbed a snack. Our day/night ended at 9:30pm Tokyo time/ 5:30am Vancouver time. We all passed out.

First day done. Now to explore more of this city.

This Flight Tonight

Holy crap. The day is upon us. Time to hit the skies over the wild blue yonder. My wife’s anxiety and fears have turned to excitement and fun. Now it’s my turn for the stress…

We did online check in yesterday and had an early arrival at the airport today. Our bags were dropped off 3 hours early and our stress level was turned down. I grabbed a candid shot of my wife and son as they waited in line.

We enjoyed a late lunch and we were off to pass through security. We were first at security and my wife got a secondary screening. But it was still quick. We found our departure gate and grabbed a seat by a large chessboard.

Our kids kept themselves occupied without the use of electronic devices (even though we had those with us). Lots of smiles and smack talk as they challenged each other. People watched from the distant sidelines as the games went on.

At one point, I chose to take my shoes came off for a breather before we boarded the plane. No one wants to have smelly feet for ten hours. Only a few minutes remain now until we board. Last chance to use the restroom and wash up. I want the stress feeling to go away.

I’m not worried about the flight- which is good. I’m worried about every other aspect of our trip. Argh! It’s almost time to board! Stress sweats… ugh. No! We can do this. It’ll be fine. It will be fine.

And fun. We have companions. So a bit of silly photo fun is being had. These guys will make a few more appearances during this trip.

Off we go! See you on the other side of the world!

Tokyo Yummy

I’m looking forward to our trip to Tokyo (counting down the hours until we leave). Mostly I’m excited for the sights and the experience, but also for the food. Mmmmm Japanese food

I love Japanese food. Not just sushi. Although sushi is up there in one of my top spots for favorite foods (I’ve even made sushi myself). The food in restaurants I have been to in North America are so flavorful and beautifully laid out- it makes me hopeful for an even better experience abroad.

From what I have seen online, there is also a lot of fun offered up in presentation as well as flavors. Choosing meals will be easy at first for my family. We all share similar tastes, but by the end, we may argue over which ramen place to go to or what snacks to buy.

I’ve brought a lot of spending cash for our meals, which is rare for when I travel. Usually we like to pack food and only eat out a couple of times. But since we are flying and can only take so much baggage- this trip will involve a lot of restaurants.

Can’t really complain- I’ve only ever heard good things about eating in Japan. Maybe this trip will have us Instagramming our meals more often!

Follow along with my food adventures at binarydigit01 on Instagram.

The Great Question

The answer to the Great Question… of Life,the Universe and Everything… is…


Today I turn Forty Two. My life has been pretty darned good so far. This year I am planning on making the most of my 42. First is my bucket list trip to Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to travel there since my childhood for many different reasons.

Next will be to meet a couple of my childhood icons at the Calgary Expo at the end of April: Paul Reubens and Wil Wheaton. I dressed as Pee-Wee one Halloween and I loved it. I almost had the opportunity to meet Wil Wheaton, but I chickened out. Not this time! I even wrote about it two years ago: One Day.

I’m also blessed with extra vacation time off this year. I am going to try and make the most of my time by relaxing and traveling. There is so much beauty to see and experience in the world. I may even venture off on my own without the family. Just because.

Here I am, age 42. It’s an important year to me. Not 40 or 45 just because they end in a five or zero. No midlife crisis planned either. Just enjoying 42 years of the earth’s rotation. Especially the last 17 years. Life has been full of off-set plans, like being married on a Tuesday just because. Or naming our first born daughter Random from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series.

42 years of just trying to make my world a better place.

“Forty Two!”

“Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”

I guess so.


I can’t live without technology. Over the past 15+ years, I also can’t live without access to the internet!

Ya I know I could “live” without it. But it has become an integral part of my daily life. In fact, once I got a smartphone- I have been unable to remain offline for extended periods. I’ve come to terms with this. I do however know when not to go online or use my smartphone; for example- driving.

Since the world is connected and Google is everywhere- I figured that our trip out of the country to Japan would require some sort of access to the World Wide Web. After speaking to some people at work who have been to Japan recently, I came to the conclusion that access to Google would be a necessity.

I’ve been using Google Maps on my computer and my iPhone for the past few months studying up on Tokyo. I’ve been trying to get my bearings of where we are staying in relation to the various sights. I’ve already printed directions and train times for each day. But I know that I will also need access to a live map periodically.

Having access to “Google Translate” also seems like a great idea. Since none of us speak Japanese- nor can we read it- having quick translations both written and in speech will be handy. Knowing my personal limitations when it comes to other languages and cultures is humbling to say the least.

It all comes down to the question, “How am I going to access the Internet abroad while on the go?” I had a couple of options:

The first was to fork over $12/day on my personal cellphone to “Roam Like Home“. The second option was to get a SIM card or a “Burner Phone” and pay as I go for the twelve days we are there. But the option I liked best was “Pocket WiFi“. This is $7/day and I can connect up to 10 devices. This will also allow my wife and children unlimited access to the internet as we travel around Tokyo.

This option seemed like a no-brainer. I pre-ordered the Pocket WiFi from Econnect and it will be delivered to our hotel the day we arrive. I had the option to pick up at the airport, but it was on the far side of the airport at the Domestic Terminal. I have decided that we will try and manage a 15 minute train ride from the airport to our hotel without use of technology. This may end up being the longest 15 minutes of my life as I stress about what stop we are getting off at and which way to walk afterwards.

The benefits of having WiFi in a foreign country won’t make me feel so nervous. It’s a common ground that most of the civilized world understands. Who knows, after this trip I may try and venture further out of my comfort zone.

I Excel

I’m getting tremendously prepared for our trip to Tokyo. I’ve done a ton of research of things to do and see over the past few months. I bought advanced tickets online for some attractions as well. I even waited at my computer refreshing a website to open up ticket sales in order for me to jump on and get them. (Studio Ghibli Museum better be worth the headache!!!) Needless to say, I am a planning machine.

For the past week or so I have brought some ideas from work home with me to use for our vacation. No, I’m not taking work with me- I’m using my knowledge base of Excel spreadsheets! I’m making cue cards and an itinerary using Excel. I’m such a dork. But it’s working for me. We have so many things we want to do and see, that planning it out in advance is great. I understand that there may be travel times or waits at certain places and I’ve taken that into consideration. I have been careful to make sure that our big plans are staggered out each day and that we can enjoy some wandering time as well. I don’t want to rush the experience of a foreign country.

Incorporating places and sights that interest the kids is high up on the list. As I mentioned before, even our 11 year old is helping to plan the trip. Our 13 year old daughter also has a notebook with details about which part of Tokyo has the stuff she wants to see. Putting it all into spreadsheet form makes sense to me.

All I have left to do is fill in the last three days of our trip, format the cells and font to make it pretty. I’m really going to excel at making this trip worthwhile.

Dad joke.

Tune In Tokyo

Our trip to Tokyo hasn’t happened yet and it’s costing us a small fortune already. Some days I wish that my Bucket List travel destination was my backyard. I could afford that- except I’d want to landscape or build something. Like a shed or archery range or some other thing. Back to one of my bucket list destinations… Tokyo.

I really have no idea where my desire to see Tokyo stems from. Finally when I hit age 42- I will be there. I’m dragging my family along for the journey. As I said, it’s already more expensive than I want it to be. But if you’re going somewhere that is important to you, it makes sense to have it be memorable.

There are tours and places and food and culture that I need to see. I want to experience it all in the ten or so days that we will be there. Our planning is getting to be a lot of fun. As I mentioned before- Even our 11 year old is planning for our trip. It’s a family thing now. Getting ideas and opinions on what to see and do. It’s still very daunting.

Time to tune into what else Tokyo has to offer. Or at least browse the interwebs for anything unique or crazy that we could experience. Besides a random reference to an old movie.

I Still Don’t Know Japanese

In two months time, my family and I are traveling to Japan. So far we have plane tickets and the hotel booked. We have been browsing online to figure out some ideas for the trip which is exciting- but I know zero Japanese words.

I need to change that. Immediately. So I found a video online to help me that is silly and fun. Time to teach this old dog new tricks!

Japanese English Song

Now that tune is stuck in my head again.

Trip Planning at Age 11

Today I came home from work and our son was really excited to see me. He was standing at the front door talking rather quickly as I got out of the car. It seemed he had something really important to share with me.

As much as I was on the verge of being annoyed, I also knew he needed to speak. Our son has to get it all out before you can answer him. Interrupting him just prolongs the story… So I listened. It was about a zoo. A zoo in Tokyo.

The Ueno Zoo. I learned many facts in record time as our son spilled his guts to me. In under two minutes he shared so much information that I barely had time to walk in the house and take off my shoes. The zoo is now on our list of must see sites on our upcoming vacation.

I’m really happy that our 11 year old is finding activities in Tokyo. It seems the excitement is building amongst our family. Over dinner we spoke as a family of more things to do and sights to see. Our son was jittery and wanted to get on a computer to do more Google searches about Japan.

Maybe I should let our son plan this trip. His first pick was studied up on and well received.