Hey Broncos Country!
Michelle and Kisa writing to you from Tokyo, Japan, during the Broncos bye week. We are here for the weekend with Visit Denver and United Airlines to promote our beautiful city at the international JATA (Japan Association of Travel Agents) Tourism Expo.
Day 1 – Wednesday 09/24
After nearly 6,000 miles and 14 hours in the air, Kisa and I made it safely to Japan via the amazing Boeing 787 United flight. Once we arrived to Tokyo, Kisa arranged bus tickets to take us to our hotel. She explained to me that Tokyo isn't like how we view cities in America. There isn't a downtown Tokyo, per se. The city is massive and is made up of many sections and areas. The Imperial Hotel, where we are staying, is in Ginza, which is one of the many subsections of Tokyo. Our hotel is next to the Imperial Palace, which we hope to visit on Monday. After a long day of travel, we got situated at our hotel and called it a night.
Day 2 – Thursday 09/25
We were very lucky to have a free day before the conference started, and I was even luckier to have Kisa as my local tour guide to show me around the city. We woke up ready with a plan to see as many places that we could possibly see in a day. We started off our day at a nice little café next to our hotel, and hopped into a cab to venture to Skytree, the world's tallest tower and tallest structure in Japan. To our dismay, due to very windy and rainy conditions, Skytree had closed for the morning and afternoon, and was expected to open later that evening. So Kisa taught me how to buy a train ticket and we jetted off in the train from Skytree to Shibuya. In Shibuya, Kisa showed me one of the busiest intersections in the world with hundreds of people crossing the street in a matter of seconds. This intersection is often compared to New York's Times Square. It was so intriguing to watch the madness ensue for it all to go back to order when the lights turned red.
About a 15 minute walk away is Harajuku, a very well-known district of Shibuya. This area is all about fashion and youth culture, with elaborately dressed teenagers sprinkled all through this area. Kisa took me to the best crêpe shop in Harajuku, and we had a little mid-day snack as we ventured through the area. She took me to her favorite stores where she shops at and even made me try on some clothes. During the day, Kisa continued to teach me Japanese phrases so that I could better interact with the native culture. She was convinced that I am part Japanese as I was basically obsessed with everything: the food, the culture and the lifestyle. After venturing through the two districts, we headed back to Skytree, and thankfully it was open. We were able to go to the viewing tower which was 350 meters (1,148 feet) above the ground to see Tokyo lit up in the night sky. After a few minutes enjoying the view of Tokyo, we headed back to our hotel. Shortly after, Kisa took me to a local ramen shop where we enjoyed authentic Japanese ramen and wontons, which were amazing.
Michelle joined Kisa in Tokyo, taking in some sights and representing the Broncos at a travel conference.
Day 3 – Friday 09/26
Today is the first day of the JATA Tourism Expo. This conference is a three-day event with an anticipated 30,000 people that will be in attendance. Nearly every country in the world is represented at this conference in hopes that the Asian travel companies will be interested in creating more travel packages to their country or city. Thus, Kisa and I are representing the Denver Broncos and American football in hopes of attracting visitors to our beautiful state. The JATA conference is held at Tokyo Big Sight about 20 minutes from our hotel. It is Japan's largest convention center, and let me tell you, this convention center is like none I have ever seen before. During the first part of the morning we were able to explore the different booths and see what each country/city highlighted as their unique culture. Being a travel junkie, this was like heaven to me. But I do have to say that out of all the booths, the Colorado booth was simply beautiful. It really gave me a newfound appreciation for how beautiful our state really is in comparison to so many other cities and countries.
As the conference began, all the American representatives were whisked away for a Brand USA luncheon, where Kisa and I had the opportunity to share a little more information about Colorado, the Broncos, and the cheerleaders to all the representatives of the USA cities. And of course Seattle was represented at this conference, so we had some healthy and fun banter to start off our morning.
The first day of the conference was for the Asian travel companies, and our Visit Denver companions had meetings all day with these companies. The next two days are open to the consumers and that is when they anticipated it to be very busy. Kisa and I met quite a few people that were huge fans of the Denver Broncos, and that just made me so proud to represent such a well-recognized organization—and, not to mention, Kisa is a bit of a celebrity over here, with just about every five minutes someone recognizing her. After staying at the conference for a few hours, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night. We have to rest up for the next two days!
But, I have to share one highlight of my day was when we met the United representatives at the expo. There was one gentleman named Yoshi that said he had met me before and that I was at the conference last year. But, unfortunately, I was not at this conference last year. Later that day, Yoshi found out I had been to Tokyo before, but not at the conference: During Super Bowl XLVII, I was at Camp Zama in Tokyo for a military visit and halftime performance for all the US Troops stationed there. Well, talk about small world—He was the United rep that was at Camp Zama when I was visiting in February 2013. So we instantly pulled out our phones and found the photos we had with each other from about a year and a half ago. It was a really cool moment that we were reunited at two different events still representing United and the Broncos.