Japan trip, part 6: Tokyo

December 19th, 2014 by Cat

This is the finale! Since we were flying in and out of Tokyo, we split our time in Tokyo in half. On 11/06, we took a bullet train (about half an hour) from Hakone back to Tokyo, where we first started our 12 day Japan trip. Now we were ending here too.

The first thing we did was check into our hotel, the Park Hotel in Shiodome. It’s part of the Shiodome Media Tower, and the hotel doesn’t start until the 25th floor. This means every room has a great view! We paid a little extra to face the Tokyo Tower, and the view was definitely worth it.

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Since we arrived in the morning, our luggage hadn’t arrived yet (which we sent off from Kyoto the day before). We decided to pass time in Odaiba, which is on a man-made island connected to Tokyo by Rainbow Bridge. It’s become a popular shopping and entertainment area with large malls like DiverCity, Aquacity, and Decks. We found a katsudon place for lunch, were able to do a bit of shopping, and also saw the life-sized Gundam in front of DiverCity!

After returning from Odaiba, our luggage arrived, so we settled in and rested up in the hotel. At night, we wanted to get a view of Tokyo and headed to Tokyo Skytree. We had dinner first at a nearby hitsumabushi (eel with rice) restaurant. There are a few ways you can eat it: as is, with leeks and wasabi, or with seasonings and a hot broth. I tried all 3, and the leeks and wasabi way was my favorite :)

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Japan trip, part 5: Hakone and our ryokan stay

December 11th, 2014 by Cat

I’m nearing the end of my Japan entries! On 11/05, my husband and I left Kyoto. We packed a small bag, and then sent the rest of our luggage to arrive the next day in Tokyo. We weren’t heading to Tokyo yet though; we had a little stop planned in the small and quiet town of Hakone.

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We went to Kyoto station to catch a Tokyo-bound bullet train that stops at Odawara on the way. While waiting for the train, we bought two ekiben which are “railway lunch boxes”. They’re commonly sold at Japanese train stations and often feature local specialties. They’re tasty to-go meals, so you can eat on the train!

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It took 2 hours to get to Odawara, which seemed like a busy station. However, as we used the local train towards Hakone, it became a lot quieter. Hakone is beautiful – probably the prettiest place we visited while in Japan. It’s surrounded by mountains and just has a peaceful and relaxing air about it. My photos don’t even do it justice (especially since it was a cloudy day).

We went to Lake Ashinoko first. It’s commonly visited by people who want a view of Mt. Fuji. It can only be seen on a clear day though, so it wasn’t visible this time. (We didn’t mind since we had seen Mt. Fuji previously.)

The real reason we were here was because I wanted to stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Though many Japanese cities have them, I really wanted one that wasn’t in the middle of a city. I wanted one in a quiet scenic area, and thus, I chose Hakone.

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Japan trip, part 4: Arashiyama and Gion

December 2nd, 2014 by Cat

Our time in Kyoto was winding down, so we spent 11/04 in Arashiyama, a district that’s on the outskirts of the city. It’s a scenic area surrounded by mountains and is known for its temples, the bamboo grove, and monkey park. I really liked the area and recommend going if you’re in Kyoto :) My husband and I met up with our friends again before heading over by train.

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We wanted to see the bamboo grove, but we weren’t sure where it was. We just knew it was by Tenryuji Temple, which we found first as we walked west from the station. We chose to enter the garden, and it’s a beautiful place, especially near the pond where large koi were swimming.

As we walked towards the back of the garden, we found the bamboo grove! (It’s outside of the garden though, so we had to exit first.) It’s basically a short walking path surrounded with really, really tall bamboo.

After that, we took a path near the river and walked towards monkey park, where monkeys freely walk around. The park is in the mountains, with its entrance near Togetsukyo Bridge.

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