Japan trip, part 3: Nara and Osaka

November 20th, 2014 by Cat

On 11/02 was our trip to Nara! It’s an easy day trip from Kyoto or Osaka because it’s only an hour away by train. Most people go to visit Nara park which is a large park with temples in it and many many deer.

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As we walked to the park from the station, we stopped to get lunch at Wakakusa Curry. We heard it was good, though it was a little hard to find! The curry was flavorful without being too rich, and it was especially tasty when mixed with egg and rice.

Shortly after we ate, the rain began to pour, and we had to take cover under some trees until it passed. When it lightened up, we were able to meet with our friends Robbie and Zerlina who flew in from Philadelphia! Robbie and I have talked about taking a Japan trip together for a long time, and we finally made it happen :D

I have to admit that the reason I wanted to go to Nara was to feed deer. They’re all over the park, along with vendors selling food for them. Since they’re used to people, they’ll come up to you for food. (Sometimes a little too close. They don’t have the concept of personal space!) Some will even nudge you with their head. Also, they bow to you! It’s both cute and weird, and you should totally watch this short video of them bowing to my husband ;)

We returned to Kyoto later and felt we needed sushi again. It was disappointing that our last sushi meal was bad, and that needed to be corrected. We chose a conveyer belt sushi place near our hotel, and it was good! Plus, the chefs kept the belt constantly full and with a variety of pieces. Each plate had 1-2 pieces of nigiri, and between my husband and I, we pulled 20 dishes.

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We thought it would be expensive, but this was our first shock at how cheap sushi is in Japan. It came out to 2800 yen (~$24). I had never paid so little for good sushi before!

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Japan trip, part 2: Kyoto

November 15th, 2014 by Cat

10/31 was our first full day in Kyoto, which feels different from Tokyo. No longer are we surrounded by towering skyscrapers, and it’s not uncommon to see people walking around in traditional clothing like kimonos.

We started the day at the Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’s the head shrine of Inari, but it’s well known for its mountain trails, which are lined with thousands of red torii gates and several shrines along the way. The gates look plain on the way up, but then you look back and realize they all have writing on the other side.

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It’s a beautiful walk, though pretty tiring to reach the summit. (My FitBit claimed I climbed over 100 floors!) Part way up, there’s a clearing where you can get a great view of Kyoto. They also cleverly sell ice cream here, which many tourists (like us) buy after the tiring walk. We took a break here before going up to the summit and then back down. (The summit doesn’t have a view.)

It was around 1:00pm by the time we reached the bottom, so we bought food at nearby stands. We got yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), takoyaki (octopus balls), and taiyaki (fish shaped cake with filling). I love street food in Japan :D

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Japan trip, part 1: Fuji Q and Shibuya

November 11th, 2014 by Cat

My husband and I arrived in Tokyo, Japan on 10/28 in the evening and were just exhausted. It was a long flight and I barely slept, so we just checked into our hotel in Shinjuku, walked around a bit, ate dinner at an udon place, and then went to bed.

The next day (10/29), we woke up nice and early and headed to the Fuji Five Lakes area, which is about 2 hours away from Tokyo by bus or train. Most people come to this area to get a good view of Mt. Fuji. We were there for an amusement park called Fuji Q Highland :)

View during the train ride

View during the train ride

The park is near the base of Mt. Fuji and actually had a great view of it. We saw Mt. Fuji clearly the entire time we were at the park. The best view was at the top of a roller coaster, where you could see it totally unobstructed… before being launched down a steep slope at fast speeds.

I thought it was a great idea that the park charges a low admission fee (1400 yen, ~$12) and then charges per ride. You could also get the “free pass” for 5200 yen (~$45) which lets you ride everything for free. It’s only worth it for roller coasters, so people who don’t like them can save money by paying for the smaller rides as they go.

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