Day 9: Osaka (Osaka Castle)

Finally, time to recap my last day in Japan. Exactly five months from tomorrow!

For breakfast, we went to the takoyaki stand near the train station. Pretty tasty! It was also pretty cool to watch the guy make them.

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Then on the way to downtown Osaka, we decided to stop at the Sakuranomiya station, since we thought there would be a lot of sakura trees there. We totally underestimated how much rain there was – my shoes and pants were completely soaked. Would have been nice if it wasn’t pouring cats and dogs…

Here’s a picture of some of the trees there:

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Because of the rain, we had to go back to the hotel and change first.

Then we went to Den Den Town, which is Osaka’s Akihabara. I don’t think we spent that much time there, just went to their K-books and Animate stores. Not quite as cool as Ikebukuro and Akihabara, but still worth the visit.

Eventually, we made it to the Osaka Castle area. We had been warned several times that Osaka Castle looked cool on the outside, but was really a museum on the inside and not really worth the admission fee. Too bad that it’s not the original, but it still looked nice.

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And the sakura were finally in bloom!

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Then when we were leaving to go to the train station for the airport, there were a lot of teenage girls holding fans for this band called Sexy Zone (I think..). Everyone was dressed up, like lolita style. It was kind of weird.

We took the train to the airport, where we had our final meal in Japan. I had some curry (my first and only curry in Japan). It was pretty decent. I just remember the cashier was Indian and seemed to be glad that we could speak English.

Overall, I really enjoyed my trip to Japan and definitely want to return in the future (hopefully with better Japanese). I’d like to visit Hiroshima and maybe the northern and southern parts of Japan. I’d also like to go to Kyoto again, since there were still a lot of sites we didn’t see.

Day 8: Kyoto (Ginkakuji) and Osaka

Finally, it was our final day in Kyoto. We had one final breakfast prepared by Keiko, but this time, we asked for a Japanese-style breakfast instead of Western style, since we were curious what a traditional Japanese breakfast is like. Turns out that it’s miso soup, (pan-fried?) fish, rice, and seaweed.

Something like this (though without the natto)

Something like this (though without the natto) (Picture from thejapanguy.com)

Keiko made us salmon, which is my favorite fish, so I was really excited about that (since most of the Japanese restaurants usually served a different kind of fish that I don’t like as much). It was really delicious! In fact, the parents of the family staying with us also requested a Japanese-style breakfast for themselves the next morning.

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Day 7: Northern Kyoto and Uji

We started off Day 7 by heading to northwestern Kyoto to see Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion). On the way there, I took a picture of the bus stop. All the bus stops in Kyoto look more or less like this. Basically, if a bus is two stops away from you or less, it’ll start blinking (like in the top row). I thought this system is pretty clever and low tech, but sometimes the buses that were supposedly close by still took forever to get there.

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Day 6: Kyoto (Central and South Kyoto)

Day 6: Our first full day in Kyoto! We started off the day with a hearty Western-style breakfast, courtesy of Keiko. I can’t say I remember the last time having a home-cooked breakfast like this. Yogurt, fruit, toast with butter, and eggs any style (scrambled for me). She seemed kind of surprised that we don’t usually eat like this (I just have a bowl of cereal on most mornings).

We also got to chat with the other guests at the inn, who were a couple from Denver visiting Japan for the first time. They also went to Tokyo before coming to Kyoto, where they visited their son, who goes to college there. I can’t quite remember where they went that day, but we were planning to start off with the Kyoto Imperial Palace, which I had already booked a tour for online. We sadly didn’t have a chance to see the main Imperial Palace in Tokyo (because for some reason, it was closed the whole time we were in Tokyo), so we hoped that this would be just as impressive. Continue reading

Japan trip 2014: Day 5, Part 2 (Kyoto – Gion)

So continuing on our adventures in Kyoto. While preparing for this trip, I discovered a really cheap walking tour of Gion at night (it’s only 1000 yen!). It sounded really cool, and it was such a good deal. Otherwise, I don’t know how much you’d have to pay to get an in-depth tour of Gion and learn about geisha.

So we set off for Gion from B&B Juno and took a bus to the southern part of Kyoto. We got there before our meeting time, so we decided to do some exploring on our own.

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Japan trip 2014: Day 5, Part 1 (Hakone, Arrival in Kyoto)

Sorry for being a bit slow with updates – the last 3 weeks have been rather crazy for me. But with the quarter ending and summer starting, I’m hoping to post more regularly so that I can finish this trip recap by the end of summer. As long as I beat Yoshiko’s record for finishing her trip recap (2 years), I’ll be happy. Anyways, I’m getting to one of my favorite parts of the trip, so the writing should be more enjoyable.

So. Day 5, the half-way point of  our trip! We started bright and early yet again. We went to the onsen for one last soak in the hot tub. There were no changes since the previous night at 7PM, so I went to the smaller hot tub again. I was alone like last night, which I was relieved to find out, because I was worried I was going to have to talk in my almost non-existent Japanese.

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Japan trip 2014: Day 4 (Hakone)

We finally said goodbye to Tokyo and headed off to Tokyo Station, where we would be taking the train to Hakone. Hakone is a hot spring resort near Mount Fuji, and it was on the way to Kyoto, our next destination, so we thought that we’d spend a night there and experience a real Japanese onsen and ryokan.

Random fact: Viridan City in Pokemon is actually based on Hakone!

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