Wednesday, 28 November 2012

I think I'm turning Japanese!

I'm sorry this has taken so long, I started writing it just after we got back from Japan but life got in the way and I couldn't finish. So here it is...

We are back from our amazing 4 day trip to Japan. I don't think I can do Japan justice for it's awesomeness in this blog...but I'll try my best!

I didn't get too excited before going to Japan, we had a very busy month before and didn't have much time to get excited and I also just presumed that Japan would be very similar to wrong I was.

I noticed the differences between Korea and Japan almost immediately after stepping off of the plane. Firstly there weren't many high-rise apartments. In Korea, we are so used to seeing high-rise everywhere, in fact our apartment building has 15 floors and that is the normal height here. There are few houses and the few that have survived are usually deep in the countryside. Japan on the otherhand is full of houses, both traditional styles and modern styles. Another difference, a breath of fresh air actually, is that the Japanese are very orderly! Even at the subway stations there are queues for each door and nobody skips. My friends here in Korea will know that it's somewhat different fact not getting injured while trying to get on the subway is considered a success! The major downfall of Japan was the cost. I knew it would be expensive, everybody told me so, but it still shocked me just how expensive food was compared to Korea.

On our first day we travelled to Kyoto. Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan a long long time ago, because of this there are temples and old architecture located all over the city. It is the main city to visit to discover "old" Japan. We stayed in the Khaosan Kyoto Guest House.
It was a great hostel, here is the link to it's page on hostelworld:

We were lucky with where we stayed because it was right in the centre of everything. We had bus stops/ subway stops/ shopping and temples all nearby. On our first day we decided to go and visit a bamboo forest. We had heard that Arashiyama was a nice place to go to so we set off. When we got off of the train we couldn't believe where we were! We were in the countryside with a gorgeous river nearby and lots of beautiful shops and temples everywhere. It was the nicest surprise. We found the bamboo forest and it was really cool, unfortunately our canon lens broke before coming to Japan so we just had my point and shoot which is fine, but terrible for photos in the evening/night. So our photos really don't do this place justice.

That night we went to a huge shopping area looking for a place to get a drink. We saw a place and decided to wander in, and I'm so glad we did! It was a basement bar with a waterfall and very traditional setting. We ordered some duck and it was by far the most amazing duck I've ever had in my life!

The next day a massive typhoon decided to hit Tokyo, even though we were quite far away from it it was still lashing raining in Kyoto. Since this was our last day and we really wanted to see the golden temple we set off in the rain. I'm so glad that we went because it really is a sight worth seeing. The whole temple is gold plated and no matter what the weather is like it looks amazing. We found a little place to drink some green tea and take in the beautiful location...all the while talking about how lucky we are that we get to do this.

When we got back we went to a small ramyeon place down an alleyway. As with the duck, it was unbelievably good! (expensive but good) It had noodles, a lot of pork, a gravy like sauce and a soft boiled egg among other things in it...I'm still dreaming about it!

During the evening we took a stroll around Gion. This is known as the Geisha district of Kyoto. Geishas still roam the streets here and if you are lucky you can spot them. Unfortunately we didn't spot any but it was a great area to just stroll around anyway. All of the buildings were traditional and we were the only 2 people wandering down these little alleyways.

Afterwards we found a sushi place (you can't go to Japan and not have sushi) and we ordered some sushi and sake. I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of Sake, but it is much nicer when it's served hot and sipped. (not shots like these 2 morons were doing for a while!)

The next day was time to leave Kyoto and discover Osaka. I was a bit apprehensive leaving Kyoto because it was such a wonderful place and we knew that Osaka was a big city. Luckily we were staying right in the centre of Osaka, right down the street from Dotonbori. Dotonbori is a famous area that is full of restaurants and over the top advertising...if you want to see the bright lights of Osaka you come here!

Once again we proved lucky with our guesthouse. It was quite cheap and only a 1 minute walk from the subway station. We were met by a really nice Nepali guy who works/runs the hostel. While we were waiting fro our room to be ready we chatted to him about our plans to go to Nepal and what it's like to live in Japan. His wife got pregnant so he had to move to Japan to make money and send home to his family. His daughter is 2 years old now and he has never seen her. It really makes you realise how lucky we are just because of where we were born!

We were very pleasantly surprised with our room. Usually rooms in Japan are TINY! But this room had 2 double beds, a couch, a big widescreen tv and ceiling to floor windows, it's quite new as well. Here is the website:

After we were settled in we went in seach of Osaka castle. This is a beautiful castle that is right in the middle of Osaka. It has a wonderful park all around it. We made the mistake of paying to go inside the castle...instead of finding an old castle we found that they had completely refurbished the inside to make it into a modern museum, the only good thing was the view from the top.

The guest house also had a Nepali restaurant and even though we were in Japan the smell from the restaurant was too good to resist and we were both intrigued as to what Nepali food was like so we ate there, and were not disappointed! I think it made us both even more excited to go to Nepal next year.

That evening was spent walking around Dotonbori and taking in the sights. The next day we set off for the pier area of Osaka. This is a very touristy area that has a massive aquarium and The worlds biggest ferris wheel (during the years'97-99). The ferris wheel was cool, we got to see just how big Osaka is and the sky was very clear for us. The aquarium was also great, it had dolphins, seals, penguins and a whale shark! Of course no visit to Japan would be complete without a visit to a games arcarde. These places are just downright crazy! Lights colours and noise everywhere! So much fun!

Overall we had a great time in Japan. It really is a country with no comparisons. I was surprised that we both experienced a little bit of culture shock in a country that was only an hours flight from where we live. But it really is so different from it's neighbours. I would definately reccommend for all of you to visit Japan at least once in your lifetime!

Note: Sorry, I have been waiting to publish this with my photos, but I lost my wire for my camera and then tried putting the memory card into Jasons sd slot in his computer and it's now stuck...when we get this sorted out I'll post some photos for you!

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