Recap on Japan

The Bamboo Forest, Kyoto

The Bamboo Forest, Kyoto

Wow. I just took a bite of the chocolate-covered waffle I have leftover from the Kyoto train station this morning and a wave of sadness came over me. I am sad to be leaving Japan. And it’s not just for my upcoming withdrawal from the conglomeration of odd sweets – including waffles and donuts of all flavors, but mostly consisting of mochi and beans and candied fruit – that Japan has to offer (though I have – actually, this is a real thing – gained ten pounds since I started this voyage). I am just blown away by everything that I’ve seen over the past five days, and how much more I wish I could see in what is one of the most fascinating countries I have ever been to. This has been one of the best weeks of my life, despite having a terrible cold and being consistently lacking in sleep.  

I am going to try to sum up my trip in this post, though there’s honestly too much to write about. This is just an outline:
  

Day 1:
-       Got off of the boat around 11am (first time off of the ship in 12 days; felt AMAZING)
-       Lunch in Yokohama train station; don’t really know what I ate but it was good. Oh, I also ate a waffle there (my first purchase; it was delicious)
-       Train to Tokyo
-       First travel disaster (hadn’t actually booked the hotel we thought we had booked… oops). It all worked out – got a hotel in Shibuya (neighborhood in Tokyo where lots of SASers were staying)
-       Walked around Shibuya, bought snacks
-       Sushi dinner with the crew (10 of us); tried Jellyfish – it was surprisingly crunchy
-       Walked around more; crossed the busiest intersection in the world
-       KARAOKE!! For two hours; it was amazing
-       Didn’t sleep. At all
-       4:30 am – went to the Tsusiki tuna auction – very much worth being delusional for
-       7 am – back to hotel for a few hours of sleep
  

Day 2:
-       Noon – subway to Asakusa (another neighborhood in Tokyo; very different from Shibuya)
-       Walked around, had lunch, bought souvenirs, went to an amazing temple
-       5:00 – met up with my friend Kiki who lives in Tokyo (and also who is the reason I was able to navigate Tokyo AT ALL for the first 36 hours)
-       Explored the Harajuku distract, ate an AMAZING dumpling dinner
-       Met up with some expat friends of hers in Roppongi (another neighborhood in Tokyo – where most people go out)
-       Went back to hotel, rallied (even though most of my friends were sleeping; this is very unlike me), went back out to find the SAS mob – term for the mob of SAS people that is always somewhere to be found - at a bar called “Muse”
-       Migration from bar to club
-       Circa 4:30am – went to bed for some very necessary sleep
  

Day 3:
-       Breakfast with Meredith at the hotel (Meredith and I are the biggest eaters in our friend group, just for future reference; some people are actually perturbed by how much we can eat)
-        10:30 – checked out and walked to the train station
-       Subway – train – bus to Hakone (town in the country near Mt. Fuji!!)
-       Checked into the Fuji-Hakone Guest House – wonderful Japanese hostel-like situation
-       Walked around town, found an amazing restaurant for dinner where we sat on the floor and grilled our own skewers of chicken, pork, and fish
-       Bathed in sulfuric hot springs under the stars
-       Early to bed
  

Day 4:
-       Breakfast at the guest house (Western style – eggs, toast, cereal)
-       Bus to the Hakone “ropeway”
-       Took the ropeway (gondola) up to see the most amazing views of Mt. Fuji! Also tried “black egg” (tasted like a normal egg, but the shell is black for some reason I should know but don’t; I think it’s cooked in sulfuric hot spring water)
-       Boat ride on Lake Ashi (right across from the ropeway); more awesome views of Mt. Fuji
-       Bus back out of Hakone – bullet train to Kyoto
-       Checked into Kyoto hotel, strolled around
-       Udong dinner – AMAZING
-       Another early night to bed
  

Day 5:
-       Morning – bamboo forest in Arashiyama (neighborhood in Kyoto) – strolled around the forest, went to the Tenryi-ji Temple, saw the most incredible gardens (heaven is ACTUALLY a place on Earth - it’s called the bamboo forest in Arashiyama; and it was raining so I can only imagine what it must look like in the sun)
-       Cabbed over to the Golden Pavilion; also beautiful
-       Ramen lunch; didn’t know what we were ordering but it turned out to be delicious
-       Back to hotel, walked around to some beautiful temples/shrines
-       Drove over to our ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) for the night; actually turns out that it’s the #1 ryokan in Kyoto – kind of booked it accidentally (sorry, mom… But it was 100% worth it)
-       Dinner served to all 10 of us in the ryokan; tried some STRANGE foods lemme tell you
-       Onsen (public bath… we saw each other naked a lot on this trip); possibly the best bathing experience of life (essentially a giant luxurious fresh water hot-tub)
-       Bed time
  

Day 6:
-       Got up early and took another amazing bath
-       Japanese-style breakfast; ‘twas an experience (lots of fish and food items I couldn’t quite recognize; much like dinner except that I was told to mix a poached egg into my rice)
-       Checked out, took the train to Kobe
-       Dropped bags off at the ship, walked around downtown
-       Found a restaurant that served Kobe beef; had one of the best meals of my life for $20
-       Walked around, headed back to the ship
-       Home sweet home!!!
-       Here I am, writing this blog post and hangin with the roomie!
 
  

Ok, that’s all I have the energy to write for now. I just took a Dramamine and am feeling quite sleepy (please excuse any typos or odd comments that make no sense).
  

XOX
  

P.S to add to my last list:
- No public trash cans
- They drive on the wrong (left) side of the road

 

 

Tsusiki tuna auction (don't worry, those bright red blotches are not blood)

Tsusiki tuna auction (don't worry, those bright red blotches are not blood)

Me and Mt. Fuji ;)

Me and Mt. Fuji ;)