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Temples, Traditions, and Ramen

Early Sunday morning I hopped on the subway from Dobustsuen-mae to Osaka station. I tried grabbing some delicious ebi-mayo rolls but the closest conbini was sold out… I settled for some pastries from a bakery in Osaka station and then made my way to the train.

A ticket from Osaka to Kyoto was only $6. I didn’t expect it to be so cheap and I was pleasantly surprised. I was kind of lost waiting for the train but the signage was abundant and I had enough WiFi to give me some google maps directions to exactly what train to get on. We pulled in to Kyoto station just after 11am and I was speechless.

fb_img_1451365423762.jpgKyoto station is HUGE! I wandered around for a bit, not really knowing where to go. I wasfb_img_1451365427726.jpg by myself, with a few goals in mind of where to go, and that was it. I looked for the kitkat
store with no luck, grabbed a pumpkin milk tea and then went outside. It was a warm autumn day and I was so happy. The station was bustling with people, all eager to explore the city like I was. I purchased a $5 bus pass, which  was good all day for any bus in the
city. I had three places in mind to go to in Kyoto and all day to do it. The only set plans I had were not until the evening, where I’d meet a friend for dinner and Fushimi Inari.

I set off on my first bus, to a place I’d dreamed about going for almost a decade. The bus was long and full to the gills, but I was so excited. I had my kindle with me so the journey was easy enough, and before I knew it the bus was emptying at our stop. I walked quickly up the road to see a bunch of small shops and restaurants full of life. The temple was across the street in a wooded area. I paid my $5 entry fee, completely worth  it, and made my way inside. Kinkakuji temple, or the Golden temple, completely took my breath away. I was shaking, nervous and excited. It’s completely ridiculous to feel that way about a temple but this place was beautiful. This place solidified my love for Japanese architecture and allowed me to grow as a person. I went from a teenager who wanted to go to the land of anime to a young woman eager to see more of the world.fb_img_1451365445815.jpg

It was all thanks to my friend James. He had been to Kyoto during his exchange year in Japan. We sent emails all the time and the pictures he sent me were burned into my mind forever. I was kind of teary eyed looking at the temple, I took my time, took it all in and took many pictures. Kinkakuji has been on my small bucket list of places to go for years, it was possibly the first entry on that list and I finally made it. I wandered the temple grounds, basically floating from place to place. I bought some mementos but I knew this place would be a part of me forever.

After a thoroughly enlightening experience, I wandered slowly back down the street. I stopped in the shops along the roads and looked at all the souvenirs they had to offer. I wasn’t really in a shopping mood, and that’s an odd feeling for me. I was completely and utterly happy. I fb_img_1451365480169.jpghopped on a bus back to Kyoto Station (my centralized point) and decided it was time for lunch. As I ascended the many escalators in Kyoto Station I was treated to a wonderful performance by a high school orchestra. Not only were they really good, they were also playing Disney songs. I sang along and sat and enjoyed the show before heading to Ramen Street. Ramen Street is a name for a section of the department store in Kyoto Station. Famous enough to have its own name but I didn’t think it was the greatest. The restaurants all seemed to serve the same stuff and they all had varying lengthy lines out front. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with ramen in Japan so I just picked one that looked appealing and bought my ticket. Turns out I was not wrong, and I enjoyed the second best ramen I’ve had  in Japan. Nothing beats that creamy delicious ramen I had in Shinjuku though… After filling up, I headed back out to Gion, where I’d explore the historic area of Kyoto, maybe catching a glimpse of a Geisha…

Originally this was only going to be two posts but to save your eyes I’m going to make a 3rd post. It’s hard to believe I was only there for 2 days but my last trip to Japan was one to remember. Sorry for the delay in my posts, lots of stuff going on at home so I’ve been a little busy!

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Next post really soon!
Until next time!
B

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Kyoto

On one of my last weekends in Busan I decided to step out of the country. I really don’t know when I’ll head over to Asia again and I needed to strike this one city off my bucket list before I left.
Kyoto has been on my list of places to go for almost ten years. One of my best friends went on an exchange to Japan in the tenth grade and they had went on a field trip to Kyoto. When I opened the email and saw Kinkakuji I knew I had to go. It was one of first times a picture took my breath away… So I decided to treat myself to a trip to Osaka.

fb_img_1451365380797.jpgI had a long weekend at the beginning of October so I took a few days to myself and then flew out of Gimhae in the afternoon on Saturday. Each flight with Air Busan required me to board the plane by staircase, and there’s something glamorous about that for some reason, no matter who is shoving you… I loved flying Air Busan because the staff was friendly, the snacks were good, and the flights were painless. Immigration getting in to Osaka was easy too. I was feeling good getting into KIX. I decided to take a risk with WiFi this time going to Osaka.

Now usually when I go to Japan I rent a WiFi router from SoftBank. I have had no issues with it and it’s fairly inexpensive. Since I was only going to be there two days, I decided to try one of the free WiFi apps they advertised in the terminal. This was a blessing and a curse. Blessing: I didn’t spend $40 on a router, nor did I have a temporary charge of $400 on my card (they do this for security purposes). It also allowed me to enjoy being alone and the sights and sounds of a beautiful place. Why did I enjoy it so much?? The curse: it rarely worked. It was as if I had to stand in one foot and hop up and down to keep a signal. It didn’t cost me anything but it also did not benefit me too much. I was okay on my own but if you need a constant connection, you should not use the app TravelJapan Free WiFi. Yes it was free but it was not convenient in Osaka or Kyoto. Maybe it’d be better in Tokyo but I really had a hard time. Luckily I planned ahead and wrote down the important directions.

My hotel in Osaka was sort of traditional. It was a hostel type building but I slept on a tatami floor. I had a tiny room to myself, perfect for me, and it was quiet and relatively clean. It was kind of old, but the staff was really friendly and helpful. I stayed in a place called Backpackers Hotel Toyo. It has a great location in Osaka, only 2-3 stops from the Dotonbori/Namba area and also located near Shin-Imamiya station on the JR Line. The hotel was super close to the Dobutsuen-mae subway station. Lots of conbinis around and I even saw people with Donki bags but I didn’t have enough time to scour my area of town.

After finding my hotel, I dropped all my stuff off and headed back out. fb_img_1451365415554.jpgTaking an afternoon flight only allowed me a few hours in Osaka, but I made the most of them. I left my hotel just before 8pm and was in Namba, lost and confused, just after 8:15. After wandering around and shopping, I found my way to the familiar Shinsaibashi area. I grabbed a few tsum tsums for my collection (limited edition Halloween ones!!) and then spent far too much money at Donki. I can’t say enough good things about Donki. It’s my favourite store in Japan.

After I was all shopped out, I headed back to my hotel not before stopping at Family mart. Japan is obsessed with Halloween and I was excited to grab a bunch of goodies while I was there. I tried lots of pumpkin flavoured things… It had started to rain so I hurried back to my hotel and settled in for the night.

Conbini food in Japan is amazing and I was so happy be reunited with my ebi mayo rolls. Mmmm.

fb_img_1451365386668.jpgNext post I’ll detail my day trip to Kyoto, which was amazing in itself. Chicken hearts, creepy foxes, little lizards, and the Golden temple await you!

Thanks for your patience and happy new year!!! I hope your holidays were amazing and please look forward to some new posts for the new year!

Until next time,
B

 

Here’s a Kyoto teaser pic…fb_img_1451365465476.jpg

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Day four: Hentai, Humidity, Harajuku, and Godzilla.

IMG_20150801_215358On Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to get ready to go. Megan had conked out before midnight the night before, and she was still sleeping soundly when I left. I sent her a message to let her know where I was. I enjoyed my breakfast, and then started to wander around Akihabara. I had been through there before but only at night and only brieflywpid-img_20150801_105636.jpg. I took my time this morning seeing as Megan still showed no signs of replying to me. I went in and out of gift shops, looking at various things I could buy. I explored endless UFO catcher machines and arcades. It was really fun. I even went through every floor of the Animate store, a place I saw in a Youtube video. Akihabara has many things, and the Animate store had merchandise from just about every anime I’ve ever heard of, and many wpid-img_20150801_111056.jpgthat I hadn’t. Some merchandise including body pillows and lots of anime porn, aka hentai.

I used to be really into anime when I was in highschool. I collected plushies, watched only Japanese subtitled anime, got into J-dramas, etc, Even though that part of my life is somewhat in the past, I still appreciated and loved the things I saw. Akihabara would be like heaven for anime fans. During my time in the Animate store something really sad and personal happened, which I don’t really want to elaborate on too much right now, and I had to take some time to myself. I kind of put myself into a quiet area and tried to pick myself up. Thankfully I had some really good friends who talked to me and I was able to make the most of my last day. After wpid-img_20150801_140653.jpgfinishing in the animate store, I made my way to a convenience store where I was able to grab some limited edition Lotte Fits Super Mario Brother’s gum, and a weird coke float version of Calpis (a milky soda).

Megan got back to me,  and she was going through some stuff too. Saturday was not starting off too great. I was sure she was almost ready to go, so I picked up some things I had my eye on and then made my way back to our meeting point. We met up in the afternoon and made our way to Harajuku to go to Meiji Shrine.

It was super hot in Tokyo during our entire time there, and Saturday afternoon was wpid-img_20150801_141356.jpgno exception. We made our way to Meiji shrine, walking through the big gardens and seeing many fish and turtles, and nearly missed the entire shrine. When we made it to the shrine, I made a contribution to the shrine, even doing the traditional clapping/offering. It was a fun experience. We were really lucky too because we got to see a wedding procession. I only took one photo because I felt that it was inappropriate, but many people were shooting pictures as if it were a movie. The group of people were small in
number, but the bride and groom looked beautiful. We ended our time at Meiji shrine by getting a fortune from the shrine maidens. It was pretty interesting but they are just full of general statements. I enjoyed my time though!wpid-img_20150801_152413.jpg

wpid-img_20150801_154643.jpgAfter finishing at Meiji shrine, we headed into the madness that was Harajuku. Our cooking instructor from Thursday warned us that Harajuku was very busy and often filled with people, but I was not prepared for the sheer volume of them! There were tourists from all over, many languages could be heard. People were looking in the many shops in Harajuku. We barely stopped in any because it was just so hectic. We did go to the Disney store (again haha), and Swimmer. I’m really sad that I didn’t get to go to Kiddyland, but that will have to be on my next trip to Tokyo. Megan and I were not enjoying our time, so we headed off the main street and found a tourist shop. I took some pictures with funny Harajuku glasses (that were impossible to see out of) and Megan sorted out our restaurant reservations for laterwpid-img_20150801_161553.jpgthat night.

It was after Harajuku that we headed back to Shinjuku. Starving, we looked for a ramen shop. I had some somewhat disappointing ramen when I was in Osaka before, but this time I was wpid-img_20150801_174131.jpgnowhere near disappointed. I was completely satisfied with the creamy delicious pork ramen. The noodles were thinner than I was used to but I still gobbled the entire thing. After the delicious dinner, we had wandered Shinjuku, I found a cool arcade (Japanese arcades are awesome) and then we finally found the good part of Shinjuku. Shinjuku station is the 7th largest transit station in the world. It was no wonder that we kept getting lost in it… When we finally made it to the other side of Shinjuku, we found Godzilla, the Don Quijote, and the Robot Restaurant.

Shinjuku is actually a pretty cool area. I was pleasantly surprised to find after our fail of a day on Friday. I didn’t think much of it until we got into the brightly lit night wpid-img_20150801_190840.jpgarea. I enjoyed my time in Shinjuku more than I imagined, and I was able to take in
a lot of the sights in my short time there. We had arrived just after 8, and we spent a bit of time waiting for Oliver. We all
met up just before 9 and finally made our way to the robot restaurant.

wpid-img_20150801_223004.jpgNow Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku deserves a post of its own, and if you read this before I make it, GO. Go there. It was one of the best things I saw in Tokyo. Read about my experience at the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku here.

After the restaurant, we had to hurry to find the subway. Thankfully on the Shinjuku line we only had to ride one subway to a sister station to wpid-img_20150801_202032.jpgAkihabara. We nearly missed the last train but made it! It was a mad dash, literally. Shinjuku station is TOO big, haha. After getting back to the hotel, I packed my bags and made sure I was ready to go.

My final day in Tokyo was approaching, and unfortunately only one place was on my itinerary: Narita Airport.

That final day post will be up soon, thank you so much for reading!

Until next time,
B.

wpid-img_20150801_225008.jpgThis is a post in my Tokyo a go go series.
Find the main post here!
Go back to Day One!
See where I stayed in Tokyo.
Go to Day Three!
Check out my Tokyo Transit Tips!
Check out the best free view in Tokyo!
Check out my review of the Robot Restaurant!