And finally, Tokyo

Wow, this was a long time in coming. I apologize for the lack of posts lately and for this one being so late. Work in December and January has been insane and has only just started to normalize. I have another busy weekend coming up, so I wanted to share this post before things get too hectic.

I only spent a couple of days and nights in Tokyo this trip. The photos below are from a few places. I walked through Yoyogi park and checked out Meiji Shrine. I also spent some time in the Harajuku area. I walked through Takeshita street and found a quiet shrine a few minutes away. I wandered through the Omotesando area and through various neighbourhoods. I also walked around near Shibuya station to see Hachiko and the famous Shibuya scramble crossing. There are also quite a few pictures from the Asakusa area, my favourite go-to place!

I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week and a great weekend!! I’ll try to be posting on a more regular schedule once this weekend is over.

What is your favourite place to travel to?

Adventures in Japan – Part 3

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Day 6

It had been nearly a week of rainy, overcast weather. But when I looked outside this morning, I saw the bright sunshine and decided to visit the Meiji Shrine. I explored the area for an hour or so, drew my fortune, then headed back to Takeshita Street and Tokyu Plaza in Omotesando for lunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon in Yoyogi Park enjoying the warmth and sun. It was a laid back day and I definitely needed the slower pace.

Day 7

Today was an early day. I woke up before everyone else, checked out of the hostel, and headed to Tokyo Station. I reserved a seat on the Shinkansen with my rail pass, bought an ekiben (train bento) for lunch, then headed to the platform. The journey took less than three hours and I arrived in Kyoto in the early afternoon. I found the hostel with ease (with a map) and checked into my room. After settling in, I walked around Kyoto with a fellow traveler from Germany. We got back around 8 pm, I had supper, then headed to bed.

Day 8

As I was only in Kyoto for two full days, I wanted to make the most of my time there. I got up early and walked to Kyoto station, grabbing a coffee and onigiri on the way. After a short train ride, we arrived at Fushimi Inari. Beautiful orange temples and torii gates decorated the landscape. It’s located on a small mountain and you can walk all the way to the top beneath an unending line of orange gates. It’s quite the experience and quite the challenging climb. But it was the perfect start to the day and the quiet coolness of the forest is calming. Introvert tip: go super early or at night to avoid the massive crowds. I explored Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nijo Castle after that. I made it just in time for the last tour of Ninomaru Palace, complete with gorgeous artwork and nightingale floors! Then a quick supper and time for bed.

Day 9

To avoid the crowds, I took the train at 7 am to the Arashiyama bamboo grove. Very few were there that early. It was an incredible experience to walk among the towering bamboo in solitude and reflection. I also quietly explored the neighborhoods, and many shrines and temples. I also recommend checking out Ōkōchi Sansō. It’s a villa that was owned by a well-known Japanese actor. But for a small entrance fee, you can enjoy a steaming cup of matcha in a cute tea house in the midst of a beautiful garden. I then walked to Monkey Park Iwatayama nearby. It’s a steep climb, but well worth it to see the Japanese macaque monkeys and the view at the top! In the evening I headed to the Gion district for delicious sushi. Then I spent a few hours exploring the quaint side streets to catch a glimpse of a geisha or maiko. Walking the narrow streets really feels like you’ve stepped back in time.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Adventures in Japan – part 1

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Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to go to Japan. I’ve always had a great love for Japanese culture, music, and food. So getting to finally experience it in person was incredible. I’ve watched lots of videos on things to see, good things to know, and helpful phrases for tourists. But the experience of being there was better than I had imagined. It actually rained most of the time I was there, so if the pictures appear a bit grey, that’s why 😉

Day 1

I arrived at Narita airport, cleared customs and immigration, then exchanged my money. Then it was time to take the train. I took the escalator downstairs and picked up my JR rail pass (which would be activated later). I also purchased a PASMO card. You can buy individual tickets for each trip, but it’s far easier to swipe your PASMO or SUICA card each time you need. You can also reload your card with more funds if they get low. I then asked the information desk which train I needed to take to get to Asakusa (the area I was staying in). She told me which train to take, which track I needed, and the arrival time.

The trip to Asakusa took about an hour. The train was completely silent, despite the fact that it filled up quickly. I got off at the right station, pulled out my map, and tried to figure out where to go. A friendly businessman saw me looking confused and pointed me in the right direction. If you see a police box, or koban, they’re also happy to help you out. I made it to the hostel, checked in, and spent the next hour or so making up my bed, unpacking, and unwinding. I wandered around a bit that evening, but was pretty tired and went to bed early.

Day 2

I was still in recovery mode the next day, so I decided to stay in the area and explore Asakusa. I walked over to Senso-ji (the oldest temple in Tokyo). I started at the main gate and wandered down Nakamise-dori. It was full of vendors selling everything from kimono to freshly roasted chestnuts. People were milling around, taking photos, and enjoying the atmosphere. Many dressed up in rental kimono and were taking photos of themselves in front of the temple. Getting to soak in the atmosphere was amazing!

While I was there, a businessman asked if he could practice his English with me. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I agreed. He then gave me a guided tour of the temple, explaining some of the history and background of the area. I got to try omikuji (random fortunes) while I was there too. For 100 yen (about a dollar) you can take a small wooden box, shake it, then pull out a long wooden stick that has a symbol on it. You find the drawer with the corresponding symbol and pull out your fortune. I got a “normal/good” fortune on my first go. But if you draw a bad fortune, you’re supposed to tie it to a nearby rack so it won’t come true.

We parted ways and I continued exploring. I found a couple of other shrines nearby and a gluten-free bakery. I then walked to Sumida park, and sat quietly on a bench with a coffee, enjoying the view of the river. It was a lovely recovery day. The next day I planned to figure out the train system and head to Shibuya!

How was your weekend?