Travel Diary: Japan 2015 Part 1
I am finally starting my posts about my most recent trip to Japan. It’s been around 3 months since I came back from the trip but I’ve been reluctant to begin because the task seemed really daunting. As I started thinking about what to write and going through the photos I began to realise that some days I really didn’t take enough photos (or rather the right photos) to illustrate what I wanted to talk about. I guess that means I just need to go to Japan again and take all the photos! So, here’s the first (of hopefully many) posts about my Japan trip.
Okay, so this isn’t really Japan but I like doing little lead ups to the actual event. Here is my luggage, probably too packed with winter clothes and with a petti all squished up in there.
Evidently I was really getting in the mood of things and asked my bf to take a photo of me in the airport. I also excitedly suggested that we should go shopping and dining in Osaka right after we land but my bf was sceptical. He said that we would be too tired after all that flying and travelling.However, I remained optimistic as I boarded the plane and soon after I fell asleep and pretty much snoozed the whole way to Japan. (This is why night time flights are my favourite)
And we have arrived!
We landed in Narita airport nice and early in the morning. In fact it was too early for the post office to be open, so we had a nice little conbini breakfast. My bf sort of went wild, buying everything that he had loved and missed in the conbini. On the other hand, I was still feeling a little bit groggy and had some trepidation about conbini foods. I had gotten so sick of eating conbini onigiri on my exchange in Japan just last year, after many late nights, early mornings and lazy lunches for 6 months I just wasn’t sure if I could really enjoy the taste of onigiri again so soon. I was wrong. Conbini onigiri is tasty. it will always be tasty.
After breakfast I picked up some heat tech from the airport UNIQLO to prepare myself for the biting cold. It was super convenient though a bit small and they were even having a sale! Talking about convenience, the post office was just next to the Uniqlo and we were able to pick up our pocket wi-fi with no problems. And off we went.
We had planned our trip so that we started in the Kyoto before gradually moving upwards towards Tokyo and then Hookaido. This meant that we had to take a bit of trip out to Kyoto before we could really do anything. The lady at the JR station was super helpful and sweet and helped us fill in our exchange forms so we could get a JR pass. She even put us at the back of the carriage because we had heaps of luggage and sat us so that we could see Mt Fuji! Even though I talked to her in Japanese it seemed like the staff there were also all fluent in English, so don’t worry if you don’t speak Japanese.
One thing I didn’t realise was that with a JR pass you don’t need to buy tickets, you just sort of flash your pass and people let you pass. If you do have reserved tickets though, you don’t put those through the gates, you still show your pass and tickets. This surprised me because as an exchange student I wasn’t entitled to a JR pass and just put all my tickets in the machines like everyone else did. Transferring to the Shinkansen from Tokyo station is always a little stressful even when you know what you’re doing. My first experience of Tokyo station was a little bit traumatic, when after having just started my exchange I lost my shinkansen ticket and it seemed like no one could speak English!
On a more positive note, everything went super well this time and the view of Mt Fuji was super clear! (I also slept again.) Before too long we were in Kyoto. We didn’t take many photos but what can I say Kyoto is always beautiful. The roads and streets are much wider and it’s a lot less congested than Tokyo. Getting to the hotel took a little bit of patience as we had to buy new tickets to get around the metro there and lug around our luggage. Thank goodness for pocket wifi, we used that to get to the hotel and just settle down for a while.
Pretty much right after, R managed to work up a burst of energy and was totally supportive of my plan to go to Osaka and eat/shop the night away. If you’re going to Osaka from Kyoto I would suggest using their metro system because it’s so much faster and more convenient than JR, taking us right into the middle of the action. Nanba or shinsaibashi are probably the most happening places to get off at. However, I hear that a lot of locals prefer to shop at Umeda. It was rainy as all hell but we managed to do pretty well. After initially getting a little bit lost as we got out of the wrong exit of nanba station delicious takoyaki and ramen from dontonburi was had.
My relatively modest first day haul. We didn’t have much time to shop as places in shinsaibashi tend to close at around 9. Places were still having sales in late January and though there wasn’t necessarily a heap of stock in some places (especially Lolita stores) the sales were really good.
Also! Public Service Announcement! If you’re in Japan and you like cheesecake, please please please try the cheesecake from Pablo. Originating from Osaka, this cheesecake is so delicious and creamy and soft but somehow light and moreish. Pictured below is the seasonal strawberry daifuku flavour.
Tips! (That are hopefully useful)
We stayed in one of the Kyoto my-stays.
I totally recommend this place for anyone who wants to go to Kyoto by the way. Everything is really nice and new. It’s close to the central parts of Kyoto (Gion and Kyoto station are only short bus rides away. Teramachi is walkable) and on top of that it’s reasonable priced!
For pocket wi-fi went with Japan wireless.
The website is very straight forward and user friendly. They helped me choose the right wi-fi (recommending the one with more data which turned out to be right) and were quick to refund me the difference in plans.
Rail passes were bought from JTB Australia.
We picked up the JR pass from their offices in QV. It was really reassuring to have the physical thing in my hand instead of having it mailed to me to be honest.
Please look forward to part 2 (of I don’t know how many lol)