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Destination: Tokyo

I have a secret I've been keeping for close to eight months now. And no, I'm not about to become a father!

This past February, I attended the New York Times Travel Show and won a drawing for a free trip to Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo Tower from Mori
Tokyo Tower from Mori. (Photo: Agustin Rafael Reyes)

The prize, courtesy of Japan's tourism office, included round-trip airfare on Continental Airlines, a two-night hotel stay, a $150 train voucher, and, oddly, a small (cheap) sculpture of a “lucky cat,” which was mailed to my home.

I gave little consideration to visiting Japan on my trip around the world, writing it off as too expensive. And while I enjoyed sushi and learning about Buddhism at the time, I have a deeper appreciation for both due to the last few years.

Also, in talking to other travelers who have either been to Japan or speak of it as a dream destination with a sparkle in their eye, I've become a little more curious about what the country and culture have to offer.

Mt. Fuji is a short train ride from Tokyo.
Mt. Fuji is a short train ride from Tokyo; however, I won't have the opportunity to climb it as I will be visiting in Winter. (Photo: Emram Kassim)

Earlier this year, I considered taking the trip in late August or early September, so I would be in a position (weather-wise) to climb Mt. Fuji, the highest peak in the country. When my parent's sold their house, my priority was a return to Colombia.

The hotel stay, only two nights, expired after six months, as did the train voucher. The real prize, in the form of the round trip airfare, is valid for 12 months. 

As my second stint in Colombia closes in mid-December, I'm preparing to book my flights.

After celebrating New Year's Eve in various foreign cities, such as Christchurch and Paris, I can't resist the idea of celebrating in Tokyo.

Once the NYE partying dies down, I'd look forward to:

  • Exploring the food (sushi) and tea culture
  • Riding a bullet train
  • Visiting Mt. Fuji
  • Playing arcade games I don't understand
  • Using a toilet equipped with a heated seat and remote control
  • Buying some futuristic technology not yet available in the USA
  • …and whatever else I can fit into two weeks

Have you been to Tokyo or that region of Japan?

If yes, please share a few suggestions on what I should do there. I'm giving myself about two weeks, excluding the transit, days to/from Washington, DC.

This is the biggest prize I've ever won, so the next time you're at a travel show, be sure to enter those drawings because people win them!

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Wednesday 26th of February 2014

This is a great start. I've got a trip booked for May and this gives me a great place to start planning!



Friday 19th of November 2010

I recommend the hot springs theme park in Odaiba, it was one of the best things i did there, it's like a trip back in time and its really soothing in the hot springs (good for ache's and pains). Plus for all your gadgets Akiba aka akihabara because its motto if its electrical and you can't find it you are just not looking hard enough (other word anything and everything electrical is there) Plus alot of its duty free in winter


Friday 19th of November 2010

Cool Mitchell, thanks for the Japan tips! I missed the chance to visit for New Year's, but I've locked in February 1-12, 2011

a wandering sole

Monday 1st of November 2010

Tokyo for New Year's sounds amazing! I've written it off for the moment due to hearing how expensive but hope to make it one day. And like Rebecca says, I've heard Kyoto is amazing as well.

Geelong dental

Saturday 30th of October 2010

Who wants to go on a intensive diet ,haha?. Eat however much you wnna, just don't forget to keep working out!


Friday 29th of October 2010

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