Day 7 in Japan: Bye Ryokan & Kyoto

Posted on 14-05-2016 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Short post because I didn’t take a heap of photos on this day :)  I swear I took some of Honganji Temple but I guess not.

Today we woke up early for our 8am Ryokan brekky!  It was a Japanese style breakfast with a few little bits and pieces – very yummy!  Then we checked out and received some free hankerchiefs from the Ryokan as souvenirs.

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Across from our Ryokan, like literally right outside our door — there was a huge temple called Honganji, which we found out was the largest wooden structure in the world!

We walked all the way to Shijo and to Nishiki market for sushi train and snacks.  As you guys probably know, I love Japanese Lucky Bags (fukubukuro) so we grabbed one of the sweet shop bags for $10.  It had so many random Japanese snacks – they were all decent tasting, most were very peculiar but none really stood out that much to me.  I should have taken a photo!  But I’m dumb and didn’t and now they’re all gone.

We should have walked to Gion after, but I was so dead I just wanted to go “home” (aka back to Shinsaibashi).  After dropping our stuff back at the apartment and reconvening with Isaac, it was time to have dinner in Shinsaibashi (the shopping street).

Lobster

We ate LOBSTER ROLLS!  They were delicious!  So much lobster, although they were quite pricey at 15 bucks per small roll.  And obviously, this wasn’t a Japanese meal LOL.  I don’t regret buying them at all though, they were delicious and who doesn’t love lobster?!

We had more dinner at some random yakitori place because Bryan was still hungry, but to my dismay it was a full smoking-allowed restaurant and I was dying the whole time because I don’t do well with smoke.

Afterwards we met up with Michael, Kathy & Nelson and went to the arcade!  No one won anything (LOL sadface).  Everyone wasted a lot of money, but it was pretty ~worth it~ anyway because arcades are all about having fun with friends.

We also had sushi for dinner at some fancy sushi place in Dotonburi.  It was really yummy, I finally tried otoro and fell in love with it.  FML why is it so expensive to get in Australia?!

Anyway, that’s all for now!  Thanks for reading c:


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Day 6 in Japan: Kyoto – Arashiyama

Today we went to Kyoto! We took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto, then another train to Arashiyama with Bryan’s family.

I had been looking forward to Arashiyama for pretty much the entirety of the trip since I had heard a lot of great things about it from Bryan’s cousin who had just recently been.  I was so excited to ride a bicycle around to see the sights but… well, I kinda messed up.

I thought I could ride a bicycle, but turns out I can’t remember how LOL.  Not sure whether it was because these bicycles were really different to what I was used to, but LMAO.  Can’t believe I forgot how to ride a bike.  I was so sure I could!  We even rented bicycles but I had to return mine (luckily they gave us a refund for it). Sooo embarrassing, but oh well.  It was still a fun day out — we visited some temples, the Togetsu river & the Bamboo Forest before returning the bicycles.

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The bamboo forest is really serene, the air feels weirdly fresh!  The only thing is that it was quite crowded – not so bad that you can’t move but it is difficult to bring bicycles through and I wouldn’t recommend bringing them in next time.  It’s definitely a great experience though.

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Next was the Monkey Park which was the highlight for me!  We were greeted by a pretty red entrance:

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It was a surprisingly long walk up to the top of the mountain where the monkeys were.  If you’re planning to visit the Monkey Park, make sure you wear walking shoes and be prepared for a little hike – it is very much worth it though!  I was worried the monkeys would be mischievous but they were cute little angels, hahaha.

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The path up the mountain eventually branches off into different sections, but we chose the one that was a longer walk because Bryan’s dad had a feeling it would be a lot better or something.  I definitely recommend the longer path though – the view was breathtaking!  Picture spam time:

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The monkeys were so cute and so close too. There were baby ones which were adorable! I took a lot of pictures, and even fed some in the special little feeding enclosure. Bryan even got pushed by a monkey a little as it ran away

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Afterwards, we had lunch  at a random udon place.  Idk, I feel bad for saying it, but I’m already sick of udon/the benito/dashi flavour!  I actually find myself craving fries/chips and pasta more and more.  It was still yummy, but I’m missing the variety of Aussie food.

We then went back to the station and returned to Kyoto again, for Inari Shrine. It was pretty cool there, the thousand gates were impressive and we ate some shrine food — preserved strawberries (they tasted yummy like jam) and mochi.

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At around 3pm we said our goodbyes to Bryan’s family, and Bryan and I headed off to our Ryokan in Kyoto: Ryokan Izuyasu!  It was sooo lovely there, such a Japanese experience — like what you see in anime and TV with a tatami filled room, the most awesome heated toilets & tea. We were given yukatas, and the place had three communal onsens that you could basically reserve for your room (no need to book the onsen ahead of time though).  Too bad my camera ran out of battery by the time we got there, so I couldn’t take any HQ pics – but I took on my iPhone.

I love how peaceful it is here! The walk here was only 10 mins from Kyoto station (a straight path from the exit near to Century Hotel Kyoto), and it was a little scary because the streets seem so colourless compared to Tokyo and even Osaka, but the Ryokan stands out with it’s traditional decor.

Entrance Ryokan Entrance

We were greeted with sugar snacks and tea, and our room has it’s own private garden. Ahh, it’s beautiful. Breakfast is included with the room price, so I am looking forward to that tomorrow.

Our Room

[Grabbed this pic of our room from their website, just so you can get a better idea of what it looks like:]

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After getting settled, we went to Kyoto Station for a bit of shopping and bought some white choco covered strawberries from Muji and a caramel bamkuhen (it’s a rolly layer cake). We had tea in our room with the little cakes, and relaxed for the afternoon.

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We didn’t book dinner at the Ryokan, so we went out to Kyoto station to grab a bite to eat. We had monjayaki, a specialty of Kyoto in terms of okonomiyaki.  I was craving beef, so we had some of that — although I wasn’t that big a fan of it because it tasted just like basic Aussie beef (I may even go so far as to say I prefer the beef we have at home!  Lesson learnt: don’t order regular beef in Japan again when there are so many other foods to try).  We also had an okonomiyaki of course – we ordered a pork one, and it was tasty.

My legs were dead by then, so soon after we went home and used the private onsen!

I find it pretty gross using the same water as everyone else tbh… I don’t know if I could deal with a public onsen. I loved the temperature and everything though, it’s very relaxing. We wore our yukatas (traditional clothing) and went to bed with what Bryan calls “cloud” blankets — very soft and puffy blankets.  Looking forward to tomorrow!


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Day 5 in Japan: Osaka Castle Park

Posted on 10-05-2016 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hey guys, long time no Japan post!  I finally got around to posting this, even though I didn’t have a lot to really blog about (and I totally forgot to do a detailed post at the time – my bad ) .  It’s mostly picture spam but, enjoy!

Osaka is so lovely!  I don’t know if it’s the awesome apartment, the perfect location of our apartment (so close to Shinsaibashi) or just the dessert talking but nothing beats a crisp winter morning in Osaka

Bryan, Isaac and I woke up and went for a short walk to a nearby cafe.  I can’t remember the name, it was a pretty standard cafe – the place we were going to try wasn’t open or something.  I had a yummy apple cinnamon pancake and a green tea latte (of course haha).

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We then went off to Osaka Castle / Osaka Castle Park with Bryan’s family – it was a gorgeous day and the views were beautiful!

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There was a short walk to the actual castle, on the way we stopped by some food stalls and passed this cool little building where there were people inside doing martial arts (no idea what it was tbh).  Picture spam time:

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Finally, the Castle:

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Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend doing the tour of the actual castle, it was $6 and boring LOL. The only good part was going to the top and enjoying the view – but if you haven’t seen a lot of historical stuff before then it’s worth having a look.

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[Okay so here is where I blogged really briefly and I can’t remember any other details LOL sorry]

Had lunch at a random place near the Castle – I had Chicken Katsu, which wasn’t bad:

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We then went to Namba, a shopping area – I didn’t think it was good as Shinsaibashi.  We then passed Dotombori which is pretty much joined to Shinsaibashi, where I bought a bunch more stuff from shops like GU (a cheaper Uniqlo) & Sanrio.

We finally ended the night with dinner at a yummy skewer place – omfg the silverside beef skewer was to die for. [I legit can’t even remember where this was now though Stupid me for being lazy about blogging.]


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Day 1 in Japan: Arriving in Japan & Eating Yakitori!

Posted on 11-01-2016 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We’re in Japan!  Landing in the airport felt so surreal, like 9hrs of flying time finally resulted in something!  I slept a lot on the trip, but not as well as I did on the way to Korea which was at night.  It felt a bit wrong to sleep during the day for this trip but I was exhausted anyway from waking up so early to get to the airport.

Unfortunately Bryan and I couldn’t get a wifi dongle online prior to the trip — and we didn’t want to spend like $90 each for a wifi dongle at Japan airport, so we decided to go without portable wifi for the first few days.  So far we have survived!  I was recommended a free wifi app, which occasionally works, but it’s the offline maps (maps.me in the App Store) that really impress me as you just DL them and the gps will still help you determine a route even without Internet.

We are staying at Hotel Horidome, so we had to take the Kesei Skyliner to Ueno, then walk to the Ueno station on the Hibiya line.  It’s important to know which line you are on or planning to go to, because not all of them are the same.  The Skyliner is very comfy, lots of leg room and a place to put luggage.

At Ueno, we took the train to Kodemmacho station.  Luckily, the time we arrived was not busy, and there was space on the train to put our bags :D  We got a bit confused about where to exit the station and get to the hotel though— it was a short walk away but we had no idea which direction.  Bryan asked one of the station officers where to go, it is actually not that hard to get through what you want in English, as long as you can point to a map or something.  They are so helpful here!  Even with the officer’s help, we got a bit lost and had to ask a random on the street for help.  She even went as far as to knock on the door of some restaurant to ask for directions for us!  So kind.

(To get to Hotel Horidome: At Kodemmacho station, take Exit 1 and walk up the stairs.  Turn left, then turn left again when you reach the lights/corner where there is a restaurant with cats on the window!  Hotel Horidome will be on your right after a few mins of walking.)

They led us in the right direction and we made it to the hotel, which is clean but absolutely tiny. It’s not so hard to stay here though because everything is ~just~ big enough.  Like the absolute bare minimum of what you could consider liveable.  But it is also a great price for a nice, clean place with a good location (I think it was around $50 a night for 2 ppl).

These aren't my photos of Hotel Horidome but this is basically how our room looked except ours was even more cramped than this!

These aren’t my photos of Hotel Horidome but this is basically how our room looked except ours was even smaller than this!

Despite the size of the Hotel, it is a really good location imo, especially for a few days of exploring around the Tokyo area!  The Hibiya line connects to both Akihabara (1 stop away) and Ginza, which is great, and it isn’t far to Tokyo station from Ginza either.  It is also right next door to a Family Mart convenience store.

After getting settled, we headed out to look around the nearby restaurants for dinner.  It is a business district, so it is quite quiet compared to the rest of Tokyo.  We stumbled upon a yakitori (chicken skewer) place with little booths.

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They had an English menu and I liked the atmosphere!  Bryan ordered a bunch of weird skewers, including chicken liver – I tried being adventurous and took a bite of it, but it almost made me throw up because of the texture (the ones on the top right) LOL.

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Highlights were the tea rice soup thing (not pictured, too hungry – ate it before I took out the camera) and the karaage (on the left).  Yum.


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Japan Travel Series 2015: I’m In Japan!

Posted on 10-01-2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Note: Hi guys, I am finally back from Japan!  So the next few posts will be about my trip – some of them I blogged straight from Japan so they are very detailed and in first person, but others I had to write post-trip because I was so exhausted each day!  I hope you guys enjoy the series.  Apologies for the phone pics in this post!  I promise I took some better quality pics later on

I’m in Japan!  Well, not quite yet as I begin writing this — I’m currently on the 9 hour flight to Japan after completing the 1 hour connecting flight to Sydney.

#01 of Plane Boredom: I figure that since I have some time to kill, I might as well blog offline a little so I don’t actually forget to!  Sorry for the crap pics, I haven’t had a chance to bring out my camera yet.

First the planning stage — I very thoroughly planned this trip since I have been on holidays for a bit after my Summer unit finished!  What initially began as a loose itinerary became a 48-page document LOL.  Mainly because it is full of maps and train info, just in case we can’t get wifi over there (spoiler: we didn’t get wifi there HAHA).  I will let you guys know if we actually stuck to it though haha.  If so I may upload it here as a resource or something.

The trip to Sydney wasn’t bad.  We came to Melbourne airport like 3 hours early (our flight was at 6am) and didn’t know where to go to check in, so we waited for like 2 hours for the service desk to open at the International Terminal (because we thought they handle international luggage), only to realise that we were supposed to check in at the Domestic (which we thought wasn’t open ’til 5am). Actually, the Domestic Qantas area has a specific “Connecting Flights” terminal that you have check-in at.  But it’s okay, we got a mini-sub from Subway while we waited and got to speak to this nice English couple heading to NZ while we waited.

Things flowed smoothly from there, I took my favourite Travel Sickness tablets (Kwells) and we got brekky on the plane — a ham and cheese croissant which looked a little squished but was actually very yummy because it was heated up and melted inside.

When we landed in Sydney, Bryan and I were both worried about the fact that we would have to take a bus from the Sydney Domestic Airport to the International airport within 2 hours… But it was very easy as they told us the gate to go to (Gate 15) and we just had to present our International boarding passes to go through for free.  However, not everyone got a seat and some people had to stand.  It’s not that long a trip by bus but this might be annoying for people with large suitcases to carry.

Bry and I in Sydney!Bry and I in Sydney (with my no-makeup face)

Now I am on the flight to Japan via Japan Airlines.  LOL it’s crazy though, we’re not even in Japan yet and I feel a bit xcited that the airline staff are like doing the whole Japanese greeting thing.  I also realised how scary it is that neither of us know any Japanese, I did look up a few basic language things but they all speak so quickly that I can only get bits and pieces of understanding here and there, if that.

Anyway, the food on this airline is pretty nice!  I chose the creamy chicken dish, which I preferred over Bryan’s beef curry but he liked the curry more :P  They are so generous with their meals!  I didn’t like the fish or the little white chocolate cake very much though.

Plane Food - Creamy Chicken

#02 of Plane Boredom: We flew over the Great Barrier Reef!  It looks so pretty and sunny down there, but right now we are flying in some ridiculously  bright place so I have closed my window.
Chicken Teriyaki or something for dinner:

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#03 of Plane Boredom: Man, like 2 hours of flight time left and my butt is aching from sitting for so long.  A quick tip is to fold the blanket they provide and place it on the seat for a bit of cushioning.  I slept for most of the trip — every time I tried to watch the Attack on Titan live action, I fell asleep.  It doesn’t follow the proper story at all, hurr.  I don’t think I have the patience to watch stuff in-flight, I’d rather just try to sleep I guess.

The plane is pretty noisy compared to the SG Airlines one we took to Korea — but that may be because my seat is closer to like the noisy plane components or something.  It is also very hot in here and I didn’t prepare for that at all because I thought most planes were cold.  I would suggest wearing a t-shirt underneath your warm clothes to prepare.

Plane view

Anyway, that’s all I will say in this post for now.  I’ll probs blog about actually landing in Japan in another post with actual pictures.


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