Surprise, surprise.. Rae’s blog is still alive! Exams, presentations, papers and assignments of 5 courses really do build up, and that’s my only excuse for being so inactive! Thankfully, we had an interim reading break last month.
But I have a confession.. I didn’t really read at all. 😛 Instead, I went for a bit of a tour in Japan with Papa Rae! It has been nearly 5 years since the last time we travelled together, and although it wasn’t for long, I really appreciated the precious quality bonding time we had, plus an amazing getaway from the usual buzz of responsibility and stress.
A week in Japan was obviously not enough though. It was both Papa Rae and my first time in this country (unless you count that one layover I had in NRT at age 3) and I definitely had a compelling curiosity for the culture, landscape and FOOOOOD there. We joined a tour because (a) lazy and (b) busy but still mainly (a), and without doubt, I would definitely return for a backpacking trip.
Our trip began in Narita and from there, we went city hopping westward. Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto and Osaka are the major cities we visited, and I thought I’d share some of the highlights of this trip with you all. (:
YVR -> NRT
東京 :: Tokyo
Our first full day was spent exploring Tokyo. It was just as I imagined- bustling, energetic, and lots and lots of people, but it was also distinct from other big cities I’ve visited in the past such as New York, Taipei or Hong Kong. I really appreciated the metropolitan and historical interactions and because it’s such a small city, every street and corner reveals a story.
富士山 :: Mt. Fuji
Fast forward a bit, we went to Mt. Fuji. Well, we went to *see* Mt. Fuji. (Maybe I’ll hike it the next time I visit xD) This iconic volcano, captured in many artworks and legends, is the highest peak of the country. The best view of Fujisan was actually not, I repeat, definitely not, the observatory. But instead, it was somewhere along the highway where I saw the most breathtaking view of the mountain.
忍野八海 :: Oshino Hakkai
which is literally translated to, “eight seas”, was in fact not eight “seas”. It was more like eight “ponds” haha. This little town has become a tourist attraction and with their specialty snacks as well as another view of Fujisan.
The picture turned out blurry because I was self-conscious of my creepiness.. but this obaa-san is so kawaii ahh. Those are red-bean filled pastries she’s selling!
京都 :: Kyoto
Kyoto, once Japan’s capital, is a dainty city exuberant of rustic vibes and history. Unlike the skyscrapers in heavily populated Tokyo, Kyoto still preserve the traditional, wooden houses.
箱根 :: Hakone
Somewhere along the trip, we also stayed at a hot spring resort in some mountain aka in the middle of nowhere. It was such a cool experience living in a Japanese style room with tatami and whatnot (unfortunately I didn’t find Doraemon in the closet), and the sunrise glow (although the actual sun was blocked by the mountains) was stunning.
大阪 :: Osaka
I only had about a day in Osaka, but just the Osaka Castle Park alone captivated me. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t see Seungri here but I guess another time.. (lame bigbang joke.)
Some of the myriad of things I loved about Japan..
- MATCHA GALORE. Seriously. The matcha soft serves & lattes are irreplaceable.
- The streets are so clean. spotless.
- People are incredibly polite and welcoming! I was surprised that most people cannot speak any English even in some really touristy areas but despite the language barrier, I didn’t once feel intimidated. *sumimasen, bowbow, hai, arigatou* was all I needed to get by.
- Toilets are sugoii. Except I was too wimpy to actually try pressing those mysterious buttons..
- Convenience stores. Like seriously, feed me a ¥120 (~$1.40 CAD) Family Mart onigiri for a meal and I’ll be happy.
- Speaking of convenience.. the vending machines are fascinating. They have such a variety of drinks, and then you get the ones that make you fresh specialty coffee (YAS) and instant ramen wow amaaaze.
and the list goes on!
KIX -> NRT -> YVR