Archive for the 'Vacation' Category

Japan trip, part 4: Arashiyama and Gion

December 2nd, 2014

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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Japan trip, part 3: Nara and Osaka

November 20th, 2014

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

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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