By Wendy Wood-Prince
Monster Cafe in Toyko.
When my daughter Lucia was little she and her friends would talk about what their lives might be like as they became adults, where they wanted to go to college, what their careers might be, where they wanted to live, etc. Mika, one of Lucia’s closest friends was always very specific with at least one wish; when some girls would say “I want my bachelorette party to be in Vegas” Mika always responded with “I would like mine to be in Tokyo”. Well, fast forward 20 or so years and Mika got engaged to a lovely man and moved to Hong Kong, where he is working. As wedding plans started to formulate Mika called her bridesmaids and said “bachelorette party in Japan!!!” Planning ensued and three of Mika’s best friends flew to Tokyo to celebrate her upcoming nuptials.
At the teamLabBorderless exhibit.
Once settled in the Granbell Hotel Shibuya the girls headed to Kawaii Monstercafe in the Harajuku district http://kawaiimonster.jp . This cafe is cute gone mad with bigger than life sized pastel cakes, fantastical plants and make believe creatures of shiny plastic. Everyone is dressed like a crazy cartoon while you are eating colorful spaghetti or chocolate chicken and drinking cocktails that bubble green and blue. Needless to say maybe not the best first stop if suffering from jet lag!!
The sushi presentation is as precise and orderly as Japan itself.
After a little rest and a full night’s sleep the girls headed to another fantastical world at Aomi Station. The teamLabBorderless exhibit is another sensory experience offered in Tokyo. Not quite as stomach churning as Monster Cafe, teamLabBorderless is a total sensory experience. The girls removed their shoes and rolled up their pant legs and walked through actual ankle deep water as digital koi fish swam around their feet and flowers and ever changing light patterns were projected on the ceiling. (Side note; if your skinny jeans are too skinny to roll up, the exhibit offers some super awkward shorts that patrons can change into for the duration.) The crystal room was awash in crystals hanging everywhere and mirrored floors so the girls felt suspended in a constantly changing world of colors. Another room had a bouncy floor with revolving planets projected on all surfaces and pictures that moved and changed as they moved around. Ten foot balloons with changing colors floated and bounced off of them all throughout yet another area. All in all an amazing exhibit worth experiencing when in Tokyo.
With 150 years of history, the Kinosaki Onsen.
After the sensory overload of Tokyo, the girls were in need of some nature and pampering. They hopped on the bullet train and headed towards Kyoto. The big splurge of their trip was a stay at the Relais and Chateaux Nishimuraya Honkan hotel near Kyoto. nishimuraya.ne.jp. This resort is located in Kinosaki Onsen, and Onsen being a hot spring or resort that has developed around a hot spring, this particular Onsen boasts over 150 years of history. They indulged in traditional tea ceremonies, enjoyed the soothing hot spring baths which sit indoors and out surrounded by bamboo groves and dined on traditional Japanese meals. They enjoyed one lovely night at the hotel before heading to Kyoto.
A little relaxation outside of Kyoto.
Once in Kyoto, the girls rented bikes and rode through the famous Bamboo Forest, this natural forest has paths throughout and the girls rode around and under the grassy green canopy as they biked.
They stopped at the base of Mt. Arashima and made the 30 minute uphill trek to the Arashiyama Monkey Park. This park is filled with wild macaque monkeys who have become accustomed to humans. Visitors can purchase food from the park to feed the monkeys.
Lucia and Mika at Monkey Island.
Kyoto in the mist.
This bachelorette party was as sophisticated and modern as the girls who planned and enjoyed it as they combined culture, relaxation and nature while celebrating their good friend and her future.