Posts Tagged: kobe

Photos from Japan

Originally I was going to post a few separate posts of our trip to Japan but having completely lost the motivation, I’m just going to post one overview with the whole gallery of photos selected for this site (photos for Flickr will continue to go up at the normal rate). Tokyo was crazy, just consumerism gone mad, millions of people going everywhere all the time, endless concrete and steel, girls in short skirts/shorts (though not revealing tops), millions of umbrellas (different coloured), shops with absolutely every thing you could ever need (and a million different colour and style options), no rubbish bins, weird and unusual shops, and an amazing train system. We spent most of our time in Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Harajuku, though we did make our way to the Tsukiji fish market for lunch one day where we had some amazing sashimi. We also visited Roppongi Hills to go up the Mori Tower, went to Meiji Jingu, but didn’t see too much else in Tokyo. We decided not to try and climb Mount Fuji and instead just stayed nearby at Kawaguchi-Ko before heading to Hakone for a night in an onsen ryokan (which was bloody great) that included a kaiseki dinner. Hey, we also got some clear views of Mount Fuji so that’s something.

So after two days of country-ish life we headed for Kyoto where we would spend the majority of the next six days, this was certainly a very good decision in hindsight. Kyoto is a reasonably small city with an abundance of world heritage listed sites and a great selection of food options, and is also near many other beautiful and significant tourist sites. We loaded up our JR passes and used them every day we were in Kyoto (except one when we travelled around on the bus), visiting a bunch of temples and shrines including Kinkaku-Ji, Ryoan-Ji, Tofuku-Ji, To-Ji, Kiyomizu-Dera, Fushimi Inari, we spent a day in Nara wandering around the sites there and saw the Daibutsu at Todai-Ji as well as a few others. We also went to Osaka for a day trip as well as Kobe, where we sampled Kobe beef teppanyaki style, which was bloody sublime! Osaka wasn’t particularly interesting, like a smaller Tokyo, while Kobe was at least a bit less frantic. After all that, and some shopping, we headed back to Tokyo for one more day before flying back home (via Singapore where we visited the Gardens by the Bay near Marina Bay).

The weather was as you would expect at the end of Summer, start of Autumn, pretty warm and a bit humid, it seemed like every second day it would rain (even though the rainy season had already passed), but it was at least warm. The bullet train was something else, fast and comfortable to sit in, and exhilarating to watch fly past. The food was amazing, I think we had one bad meal during the whole trip which is a pretty amazing hit rate, the portions weren’t as small as everyone (not sure who, but that seems to be the stereotype) says, and you gotta love the plastic food displays outside the restaurant looking exactly like the meal that was served. Favourites? I don’t know, udon of any kind, sashimi (super fresh), Mister Donut custard donuts, tempura, katsu don, white peach sorbet, they don’t seem to eat any vegies we noticed, next time I think I will try some different stuff, non-traditional stuff like Japanese burgers, pizza and/or pasta, just to see what it’s like there, as we ate (except for one meal where we were tricked into Korean Nabe) Japanese food for every meal. I would be remiss not to mention the amazing people, so polite and so neat and so nice, I have to add strange as well, but I’m sure that comes from living on a remote island, and it’s not like they’re really strange, just a bit peculiar, very funny. Any way, I’m sure I’ve missed a million things here, but let’s let the pictures speak for themselves, I wish I had more pictures of food to post here, but I already put them on facebook.

Accommodation

In Tokyo for our first go-round, we stayed at Hotel Villa Fontaine in Shinjuku, we booked it online before going, I think it was a book early special price, and because we booked for four nights we got a discount for that too, it was ok, had breakfast included (a sandwich delivered by the staff), an awesome bathroom, and a nice enough bed, a cosy room. We stayed at K’s House in Kawaguchi-Ko for just one night, and stayed in a private tatami room which was nice, and had free wifi so that was good, nice enough place and it’s a chain throughout Japan so I think you’ll be safe with them throughout Japan. We stayed at Fujimi-en Lodge (the onsen ryokan) near Hakone for one night, the onsen was hot, but had a view of Mount Fuji (when it was clear), every room had a view of Mount Fuji, no breakfast but I would recommend to book with the kaiseki dinner option as the dinner was absolutely super! In Kyoto we stayed at Capsule Ryokan, pretty close to the train station as well as the two (free admission) big temples (Nishi Hongan-Ji and Higashi Hongan-Ji) near the station, pretty reasonable pricing, with free wifi in the lobby and a nice shower :D. Also had a nice free kimono dress up which is nice for the ladies :). We didn’t stay in any ultra-budget places, and I’m not sure there is anything that is really cheap in Japan, but all the places we stayed were very clean, neat and tidy.

Transport

We used the train system in Tokyo solely (as well as walking), and fount it pretty easy to work out after our initial apprehension, although not super cheap to be buying tickets all the time, perhaps the SUICA card might have proved better value. We got a bus from Tokyo to Kawaguchi-Ko, and then a bus from there to Hakone, from Hakone, we got a bus to Gotenba, and then one more bus to Odawara station, before we pulled out our JR passes to use the train for the next week. With a JR pass travel is reasonable between big cities (and fast), and also on the JR services within the cities it is very useful. Transport is super safe and clean in Japan so you never have to worry about any of that, just making sure you get on and off at the right stops/stations and on the right buses/trains of course.And that’s it for my lame Japanese overview, now for the pictures, also remember to keep an eye on my flickr stream as I’ll be uploading (around 70-80 I’m guessing) pictures there over the next few months.

  • Lonely Shibuya Crossing
    Lonely Shibuya Crossing
  • Dragonfly at Meiji Jingu, Tokyo
    Dragonfly at Meiji Jingu, Tokyo
  • Koi at Meiji Jingu, Tokyo
    Koi at Meiji Jingu, Tokyo
  • Tokyo from Mori Tower, Tokyo
    Tokyo from Mori Tower, Tokyo
  • Spider, Kawaguchi-Ko
    Spider, Kawaguchi-Ko
  • Red tree, Kawaguchi-Ko
    Red tree, Kawaguchi-Ko
  • Mount Fuji, Lake Ashi
    Mount Fuji, Lake Ashi
  • Garden, Hakone
    Garden, Hakone
  • Shinkansen bullet train, Odawara
    Shinkansen bullet train, Odawara
  • Nishi Hongan-Ji, Kyoto
    Nishi Hongan-Ji, Kyoto
  • Kyoto train station
    Kyoto train station
  • Torii tunnel Fushimi-Inari, Kyoto
    Torii tunnel Fushimi-Inari, Kyoto
  • Guardian statue Todai-Ji, Nara
    Guardian statue Todai-Ji, Nara
  • Todai-Ji, Nara
    Todai-Ji, Nara
  • Water wash, Nara
    Water wash, Nara
  • Little shrine, Nara
    Little shrine, Nara
  • Little shrine, Nara
    Little shrine, Nara
  • Horyu-Ji, Nara
    Horyu-Ji, Nara
  • Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto
    Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto
  • Ryoan-Ji, Kyoto
    Ryoan-Ji, Kyoto
  • Nishiki market, Kyoto
    Nishiki market, Kyoto
  • Osaka-Jo, Osaka
    Osaka-Jo, Osaka
  • Osaka-Jo, Osaka
    Osaka-Jo, Osaka
  • Hikone-Jo, Hikone
    Hikone-Jo, Hikone
  • Green Hills Kyomizu-Dera, Kyoto
    Green Hills Kyomizu-Dera, Kyoto
  • Kiyomizu-Dera, Kyoto
    Kiyomizu-Dera, Kyoto
  • Kyoto Tower
    Kyoto Tower
  • Reiun-In, Kyoto
    Reiun-In, Kyoto
  • Tofuku-Ji, Kyoto
    Tofuku-Ji, Kyoto
  • Tokyo Tower
    Tokyo Tower
  • Amazing view of Mount Fuji
    Amazing view of Mount Fuji (from our plane going home)
  • Pitcher Plant at the Flower Dome
    Pitcher Plant at the Flower Dome (Singapore, Gardens by the Bay)
  • Pink Flower at the Flower Dome
    Pink Flower at the Flower Dome (Singapore, Gardens by the Bay)
  • Ferris Wheel Marina Sands
    Ferris Wheel Marina Sands (multi-exposure shot)

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