Japan 2017 - Birthday Vacation
March 5th - March 21st
I knew I wanted to do something, go somewhere. So maybe six+ months early I had my bag packed. And after repacking it about 4-5 times, everything fit perfectly into my small sized luggage. Packing Squares helped a lot. But eventually, I decided on Japan partially due to the fight being the cheapest during the time that I wanted to go. That and I had been planning out a bit of a long-term trip, and it was the first stop I thought I would take on when it came down to it.
I flew with ANA (All Nippon Airways) an airline out of Japan. By far the best flights I've ever had. Wasn't crammed into a small seat and the food was good. Like seriously good. I picked the Japanese style meals each time, but I was in no way expecting it to taste good based on other airlines. I think all the drinks were free too, but I'm used to that with my cran-apple from Southwest.
Took Southwest from Sacramento to LAX then ANA from LAX to Haneda Airpot which is just outside of Tokyo. It was a 12.5 hr red eye flight. I didn't' sleep much. I don't know why I can't ever sleep on a plain.
The Flight was Star Wars themed.
Before bed snack.
And I think breakfast
And then somehow I made my way to the Hostel only to not be able to check in cause no one was there, so I wandered around just looking around at things until found a park and rested for a bit cause I was exhausted. I was also a bit annoyed because I didn't' want to walk around with my luggage.
Then after a while said screwed it got an Uber and made it to this man-made island Odaiba that I was planning on going to anyways luggage and all. And I was glad I did because if not, I would have just waited the whole day and I would have been mad at myself.
Odaiba Statue of Liberty - I found out there are a lot of these smaller versions scattered around the glob.
Flame of Freedom
Life-Size Gundam Statue
Then I took another Uber back to the Hostel checked in and got myself settled. Went out looking for food and ended up finding a train station where I could make a reservation for the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) the next day. Apparently, my pass didn't' get my on the fastest trains, but that was OK with me. Then I headed back and crashed.
Off to Hiroshima
Left the Hostel. Made my way to the train station and somehow managed to get tickets for the Shinkansen. What I didn't realize was that couldn't' get on the Shinkansen from the station I was at. So I had to make my way to another station, and I didn't have a whole lot of time to do it. Ever see the trains where they have to stuff people in because of all the people just need to get on? Well, it wasn't quite that bad, but I sat there stumped wondering how I was going to be able to do it. I think I let maybe four trains pass by before I finally jumped in line and piled in, suitcase and all. There were about three waves of people who crammed in I was in the first wave and thought it wasn't so bad. Then another wave of people came in. Everyone scooted closer together making room even though everyone was practically onto of each other. Then a third group came in, and I don't know how it all worked out, but I'm sure I was touching like ten different people at the time leaning one way while half is straddling my suitcase I wedged in trying to make room.
But I eventually made my way to where I needed to be and found my train. Here are random pictures I took from the Shinkansen. I got the Green Car pass, so I lucked out with a bit of a nicer seat than the regular pass. Plus they are reserved, so I didn't get stuck standing like I heard happen with the other.
Then when I made it to Hiroshima, I checked into the Hostel then headed over to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park area first making at stop at the Atomic Bomb Dome building.
Then while heading back, I thought I'd make a long trip and walk by the Hiroshima Castle. (The picture in blue from the distance) Then I thought I'd walk around the grounds to see if there was any way to get another picture cause I thought it looked kind of cool lit up like that. Then I found a gate to the grounds, and it looked open. Then I was confused. So I figured I'd just start heading on in and see where it led to. Eventually found my way right up to the castle, so that was cool.
After all I that headed back to the hostel and stopped at 7-Eleven for dinner. (People on the YouTubes said over and over that 7-Eleven in Japan had good cheap food and if you buy after I think it was 7 pm you would get it discounted. Needless to say, I ate at 7-Eleven a lot....)
I took the Train than a fairy to Miyajima Island. Saw some sites ate some food walked up a mountain. Fought over my oysters with a deer...
The Great Torii
On my way to Mount Misen
Kinda wish I knew what I was getting myself into
And then after the two rides up the mountain to what I thought was the top I see the picture below. See that one in red? That was as far up as I got and had the rest to walk up. I decided to do it but had to do it a little quick, so I didn't miss my ride down and have to walk all the way down. And after all the wheezing people I passed on the way up I started to wonder if I was going to make it back alive haha.
View from the top of the lift area to what I had left to do. Had to go down then up.
And my trip up there
I probably died a few times on the way up, but I made it! Then a rush back down to the bottom. I Didn't take any photos on the way down. In hindsight, I didn't take pictures a lot of the time cause I was rushing myself from place to place. I'll have to do better about that next time.
Once back down at the bottom I tried to take a few more pictures, checked out the shopping street, and rewarded myself with some food for a job well done :p
Then once back to Hiroshima made walked through a little shopping center and found a grocery store and decided to pick up dinner there. It went well until the cashier asked me something. I still only guessing that it was if I wanted any plastic bags but I'm not 100% on that.
Picked up some Juice, water, gyoza, pork cutlet thing, and then I also stopped at some place by a place by the train station and picked up probably the best eclair thing I've ever had. Along with the little bread thing and the salad. The salad I saved for breakfast the next day. I found chopped up what I'm guessing was squid in it. It was pretty good.
March 10th - 14th
Trained from Hiroshima to Kyoto
Then walked from the train station to my hostel but I had time to kill so tried to make a few detours and pretty much just walked the long way. And found the original Nintendo Building from back when they used to only make card games.
My adventures while in Kyoto
Gion Distric & on the way to it
Arashiyama - Bamboo Forest
Niomon - Buddhist Temple
I originally came to the are area cause of a shopping district that leads up the grounds but found it packed full of tourists, so I didn't get to do much looking at the shops or take many pictures. Pretty much just took a few pictures then left. And then a few days later I realized that if I had kept walking past the temple area, there is another one that has a lookout area where you can see all of Kyoto that I wanted to go to but thought it would be too far away, so I had forgotten about it. I think it was maybe less than 5min away from there
Fushimi Inari Shrine - Torii Gates
Temple of the Royal Palace - Buddhist Temple (East entrance)
Walked by this place a bunch on the way from the hostel to the train station I think I took this the time I walked to the train station cause it was Saturday and no places that exchanged money were open. Cause I couldn't use my cards to get cash for some reason. It took like 3-4 days later for me to realize I was using the wrong pin number.....
Osaka - Day Trip
Well, day trip turned afternoon trip. I started slowly this day. Well, most days I would because I waited for people to clear out of the bathroom before I even thought about getting out of bed. But I headed out made the about 30min walk to the train station. Then as I got there, I noticed there were signs out front for some underground passages that said they went to the station too. Well or so I thought. I don't know how long I was lost under there, but I'd put money that there were at least three levels underground. I walked though mall-like areas and a grocery store or two trying to find my way out. That caused me to not get out of Kyoto for a while.
But eventually made it in the late afternoon. Had fun checking out things then got hungry and tried out this place where there is a little kiosk, and you choose what you want to eat. Put your money in then it then it shoots out a ticket that you give to the peoples. It was GOOD of course.
Anyways after that soup thing, I got up and started walking around but then noticed my ankle was bothering me and my calf muscles were tight. But then it slowly got worse so I made my way to the river area where it was less crowded, and I could pretend like I was just taking pictures. Until I decided to look at my ankle and it was a bit swollen. So I waddled my way back to the station and headed back to Kyoto.
I took it easy the next day since it was my last day in Kyoto and I had six more days in Tokyo. So I kept my foot up and just lied in bed all day until later when I went and got some food and visited with peoples up in the common room of the hostel. Until maybe late that day I was super bummed out cause I was thinking that my whole trip was ruined and it was the end of the world. And then I remembered that it was the same ankle that I rolled really bad maybe ten years ago. After realizing that it wasn't so bad. But I also defiantly brought the wrong shoes. They had been hurting my feet, well really my achilles tendon. So even though my ankle wasn't really hurting anymore, the shoes still were a problem. And I stupidly waited maybe two more days to buy new shoes that fixed me right up.
March 15th - 21st
Then back to Tokyo
I think the first day I just took it easy got settled in then headed out to Tokyo Tower. I don't think I got the shoes until the next day so I still wasn't keen on wondering a bunch then. Well, that and the hostel was in the business district, so there wasn't much to do around that area.
Tokyo Sky Tree
I didn't bother trying to go up because I read that you have to get there early and wait a long time.
Roppingi Hills Observitory
I swear I had more picture of this place
Imperial Palace Gardens
And then while walking around I happened to show up at just the right time and I was able to line up and get a ticket to get to tour the inside of the Imperial Palace grounds, well part of it at least.
I guess this place was the highest point in Tokyo and back in the day used as a watch/lookout tower.
Then the last full day. Most of the pictures from that day I already added to their locations above. Others will just be in the photo dump section on another page here somewhere. Visited a few places around Tokyo with peoples from the hostel. Then met up with some others and checked out a Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park before heading back in for the night.
Then my last my day.
I was able to leave my luggage at the hostel while I wondered around which was nice. What wasn't so nice was the rain. I think it rained nonstop all day. My flight didn't leave until 10 pm so I was planning on just wandering around all day so I did. Eventually bought an umbrella. Between that and my rain coat, only my pant legs got soaked so wasn't all bad. What did suck was finding out my backpack was far from waterproof, but luckily other things in there kept my camera from getting wet. I'm glad I decided to go out and wander instead of hiding out of the rain though.
A walk to another garden that I didn't' end up going into cause there was a big group in front of me and they wanted money.
Toshogu Shrine - Shinto Shrine
The rain made a few areas mostly deserted which was kinda nice.
I stopped by a sushi place one last time in the fish market area before picking up my luggage and making my way to the airport.
Some airport shopping and one last meal.
It was an awsome trip. I loved every second of it. It was super fun meeting new people, seeing all the sites, all the delicious food, finding my way around even though Google did most of the work. One thing if figured out especially while putting this all together is that I get tired. In hindsight, I should have figured that out a while ago. This last trip it defiantly hit me hard when I got to Tokyo. I know a bit part of that was before I had been getting food along the way from where ever I was wandering around. But I didn't go to as many places that had street style food as readily available. So that on top of constantly running as hard as I did me under. So in the future, I plan on making sure I have more solid meals and maybe taking a break or to on longer trips if I'm going to try and run my way through a city.
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