Japan 2012

We’ve been back from our Japan trip for over a week, but I’ve been putting off writing a blog post for awhile. The trip was awesome and packed full of sightseeing, so trying to write a “recap” of sorts has felt a little daunting. Since this is a running blog and not a “what I did over my vacation” blog I’ll make it quick(ish):

Day 1

Fly to Narita, Japan, though not before dealing with a cancelled-then-reinstated flight. The 11 hour flight from SFO wasn’t nearly as bad as expected due to a half-empty plane and lots of melatonin.

My parents met Matt and I at the airport, and we took a train into Tokyo proper. We wandered around a famous market area but since we were essentially the walking dead by that point I don’t remember or have any pictures.

Day 2

Attempted to go to the Imperial Palace, but it was closed for the day so we were relegated to the areas outside the gates.

Later on we met with a business contact of my Dad for lunch, then went to the Yebisu beer museum and did a tour/tasting. The rest of the day was spent wandering around and having dinner near our hotel.

Day 3

I had the bright idea of trying to go see Mt. Fuji on this day. We ended up doing an interesting little tour loop around Lake Ashi that included a train, cable car, gondola, boat, and bus. Unfortunately the weather was awful and we didn’t get to see much of anything. On a nice day, this is what we would have seen:

Click for source

Click for source

What I ended up seeing:

I swear that's a peace sign...

Day 4

This day we went to Kamakura with a couple of guys my dad knows through business. We saw the Kamakura Daibutstu (Great Buddha), which you could actually climb up inside, went to the Zeniarai Benten Shrine where money you wash will supposedly double, and saw a horse archery competition associated with a festival. The horse archery was really impressive- the horses were going 100% and the archers were still hitting their targets and making it look easy!

Day 5

This was my Dad’s birthday, and we spent it in Nikko, wandering around looking at temples and shrines. I think this was my favorite day!

And not just because I saw this face

Famous three monkeys

After we got back to our hotel, we ventured out and had a drink for my dad’s birthday. He wanted to go to a “real Japanese” bar, so he asked a guy on the street. That guy led us to a British pub 🙂

Day 6

This was our last day in Tokyo, and we went back out to the Imperial Palace. Early in the morning, though, I headed out for a run around the palace grounds. The path is actually a popular place for runners and has km markers. From the early morning:

Not bad scenery for a run!

And later on:

Imperial Palace gardens

We spent the afternoon at the Tokyo Edo Museum that gives the history of Tokyo, which was pretty interesting. It was a BIG museum though, and I think the husband was literally the last person out when they were closing!

Day 7

We caught a morning train from Tokyo to Kyoto, and had plans to check into our hotel and then catch another train to go see the Todaiji temple. However, there was a mishap with our rail passes (one got left on the train on accident), so we spent a good part of the afternoon sorting that out. Our misadventure took us to Osaka, so we squeezed in a visit to the Osaka Castle.

Outside Osaka Castle

Mom outside of Osaka Castle

View from the top. I was TIRED.

Day 8

The 8th day was spent in Hiroshima. We first visited the Hiroshima Peace Park, and then went through the museum.

A-dome

Peace Tulip

We ate okonomiyaki for lunch. I really liked it… my mom and Matt, not so much.

Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki: batter with cabbage and bean sprouts, yakisoba noodles, egg, sauce, and green onions (click for image source)

After lunch we went to the Hiroshima Castle. I was losing steam and didn’t take any pictures of the castle itself, but it was a museum inside.

Day 9

Our last full day in Japan! Thanks to my dad, we were taken around Kyoto by a native Japanese man, Koki. We went to see the Golden Pavilion, which honestly wasn’t as impressive in person as I would have expected. I actually thought the gardens associated with it were more awesome.

Golden Pavilion

Next, we went through the Kyoto Gardens.

After the gardens, we headed to the Gion district, which was historically the Geisha area. We had lunch at a tiny unmarked restaurant, which according to Koki was sort of a “locals only” place that generally didn’t allow outsiders. After that, we wandered around and did some souvenir shopping.

Gion

Day 10

Our last day was all about traveling. We took trains from Kyoto to Tokyo, then Tokyo to the airport. Then, we got on our nice long flight back home!

Overall

The husband and I would honestly move to Japan if the opportunity ever arose. Tokyo was very similar to any other big city, except it was unbelievably clean and people were unbelievably considerate. Yes, there were tons of people, especially on the subway, but I never felt like my personal space was invaded and nobody smelled bad. Another thing we noticed was that most everyone was at a healthy weight, which was a nice break from what we see in the US.

I wish we would have had more time to just relax and enjoy being there, but when you only have 10 days I guess you have to cram in as much as possible! The husband really wants to go back to visit, and so do I, but I’ve got so many other places on my “must-see” list that it may be awhile before we can manage!

This post ended up being longer than I had hoped but is still missing a LOT of the details… oh well! Now that this is finished I can get back to my regular run-obsessed posting!

 

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