Archive for the 'Vacation' Category

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.


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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Japan trip, part 0

November 9th, 2014 by Cat

I’m back from my break! What I didn’t mention before was that I was spending my break in Japan :) It was an amazing trip, and I loved it there. The people were nice and polite. The public transportation was great. The food was delicious. The cities were clean. There were so many things to see, and many things are more orderly and efficient there. I’m going to miss being there!


I have a lot to say about my trip, especially since I was there for 12 days, and I also have a lot of photos to go through. While I get those ready, I wanted to spend this entry rambling about useful things to know as a foreigner visiting Japan.

Culture / Etiquette

I think this is true of any trip you take abroad, but it’s good to know about the country’s culture and etiquette, so you don’t accidentally do something rude or offensive. I thought it was useful to know train, restaurant, and paying etiquette in Japan. For example:

  1. People tend to line up for the subway/trains before they come (it’s marked where the doors will line up). When the train does arrive, they stand to the sides of the door to let people out before they go in. Even in the busiest Tokyo stations, I saw nice and neat lines.
  2. It’s considered rude to be loud on the trains, and there’s always PSAs telling people to silence their phones and not talk on them. (You can still use them, which they do a lot, but don’t be loud on them.)
  3. You don’t tip, and you typically bring your restaurant bill to the front to pay (instead of at the table). Some places do meal tickets instead where you pay first.
  4. There is usually a tray by the cashiers, which is where you put your money or credit card, instead of handing it directly to the person. They then return your change or card in the same tray.

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