9 Days in Japan, Land of the Rising Sun

A travel journal with some thoughts here and there about my Japan trip.
Osaka – Tokyo – Hiroshima – Kyoto – Nara – Himeji – Kobe

I felt peace when traveling across Japan and I can’t wait to come visit this beautiful country again.

5 June 2015– Osaka day 1

  • Arrival at Kansai International Airport, went to Kansai Tourism Information Center and purchased Osaka Amazing Pass (OAP) for 2 days (3000 yen) → very convenient. You will get almost all access of transportations and can visit 28 places or attractions for free.
  • Train to Osaka – Namba station (920 yen)
  • Arrived at Namba station, put backpack at locker (300-500 yen), ate Udon because starving like hell (400 yen), was raining hard outside and bought umbrella at Family mart (1000 yen)
  • Went around Namba area under the rain. Still crowded but very nice to see rainy scene and lively shops everywhere. Bought the famous Osaka Takoyaki (350 yen got 5 pieces). Buonissimo. Oishi. Enak!
  • Took a picture with famous Glico man, went to Namba River Cruise (OAP) and visited Kamigata-Ukiyoe Museum (OAP).
  • Went to Tennoji station, walked to the Shitennoji temple and bought sweets along the way (@120-130 yen)
  • Went around Shitennoji temple (OAP) and walking through local graveyard (awesome scene, luckily no ghosts came out of nowhere). Went to Osaka zoo but too late.
  • Decided to go to Umeda area. Up to the HEP Five Ferris wheel to see the rainy city from up top (OAP). Then took a walk to the Umeda Sky Building and went to the top, also to see the city from the top.
  • Went to Yadobashi-Umeda to meet my couchsurfing host (Kosuke) then to his home at Koshien area. Had dinner at Hamasushi – the 100 yen sushi shop – cheap but delicious. I ate 6 plates. Kosuke took 9. Hmm.
  • While we were walking back to his house, we passed the Koshien stadium. It appeared to be the famous stadium for baseball. Also a manga covered a story with Koshien stadium as its home.
  • slept like a pig.

6 June 2015 – Osaka day 2

  • Bought breakfast at Don Quixote (famous supermarket at Japan). Bought chicken katsu and takoyaki. Only 300 yen. I couldn’t believe it was that cheap. Well. Also bought tea.
  • Went to Nagai Botanical Garden and had breakfast on the front park (birds came down, children running around and stare me for a while, also the water of the fountain dancing).
  • Went around the Nagai Botanical Garden and Museum inside (OAP). Hydrangea flower blossomed beautifully that time. Took pictures. A lot.
  • Went to the big and famous and incredible Osaka castle (OAP). Went up and see the whole city. Very beautiful city from Osaka castle. It was sunny also! A lot of collection of things also in the castle. You could take a picture while dressing like a samurai or miko.
  • Decided to have an afternoon bath at Naniwa no Yu (OAP). FIRST TIME in public bath. Yes you had to wear birthday suit there. At first I was nervous like losing hell, but it went better as time went by.
  • Went to Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street to have seafood for early dinner. I ate Sashimi and Tempura and also my first time to eat struggling octopus tentacles. They were moving inside my mouth battling with my tongue. Just trying. (1600 yen) ← most expensive foods spent.
  • Went to Umeda area again and said goodbye to Kosuke (for the day).
  • While I was waiting for the departure time for bus to Tokyo, I went to Pokémon shop. Yes Pokemon.
  • Went to Umeda sky building to catch my night bus to Tokyo (It’s a common stop for inter-city bus).

7 June 2015 – Tokyo day 1

  • arrived at Shinjuku area, bought breakfast at 7 eleven (450 yen), went to Seijogakuen-mae (220 yen) where my couchsurfing host, James lived. The area is famous for the Godzilla and TOHO Studio. James was very welcoming and used to host travelers from all over the world in his flat. I took care of my laundries before we went to town. I bought the one day metro pass + return tickets from central Tokyo to SeijoGakuen-mae (only can be used in one day 950 yen).
  • Went to Meiji-Jingu Shrine (free), saw traditional wedding ceremony and Bonsai exhibition! I was very lucky to encounter that!
  • Went to Harajuku street. Crowded place. Fun to see so many people there. not my scene hahaha
  • Went to the mansion of General Nogizaka (free). Not the main tourist attraction but it was very nice place to visit (beside it’s not-so-crowded atmosphere, there’re several old traditional things Nogizaka had when he was alive)
  • had Lunch – tomato curry rice at Matsuya. First time for having a lunch by picking the menu outside at vending machine (you out your money, press what you want to eat, pick your menu ticket out, give the ticket to the cashier, wait calmly at your seats!)
  • Went to Roppongi hill and took a pic under that famous big spider statue.
  • Went to Sensoji area and Asakusa temple and met Toshiya – in purpose (a Japanese guy I met at Kuta in 2013). We then walked around the temple. LOTS OF SHOPS! From the entrance to the temple gate, it was all red! The shops sold many things. I think it was a good spot for those looking for gifts or traditional items. I almost bought a demon mask. but it was costly and I couldn’t bring that mask around with my limited bag space anyway.
  • Went to Ueno area to visit the local market. Toshiya bought me a taiyaki (local red bean pastry cake) – free, of course.
  • Went to Akihabara where all the anime lovers go. Had fun in the stores while looking at the stuffs they sell – mostly action figures. kawaiiii. again it’s very expensive!!!
  • Went back to Seijo. Had a great conversation with James and his couchsurfing experience. Apparently, he has hosted a bagpipe player who wanted to play the bagpipe around Japan and an old lady who wanted to find her pen pal for the first time. Such experiences are gems of life.

8 June 2015 – Tokyo day 2

  • Went to Tokyo Imperial Palace and took a walk at the garden. Very beautiful and calming.
  • Witnessing the Hachiko statue at Shibuya station. Poor Hachiko.
  • Lunch – onigiri and potato chips.
  • Went around Shibuya, One Piece Mugiwara Cafe – very fun to see all the items sold here all’s about One Piece! my favorite Manga. took pictures with Luffy, Sanji and Chopper. bought small toy from the store 200 yen,
  • went to Shinjuku area, visit Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to see Tokyo from above. famous landmarks such as Mount Fuji, the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine and the Tokyo Dome can be seen from the observatories. Admission: free!
  • Had dinner (Yakisoba + kroket at 7 eleven, 500 yen)
  • Got ready for night bus to Hiroshima

9 June 2015 – Hiroshima and Miyajima Island

  • Arrived at Hiroshima at 9 a.m. first impression: very peaceful city. I will like this city.
  • It appeared Hiroshima offered another type of public transportation, Tram. Bought one day pass + ship to Miyajima Island (840 yen)
  • Went to Peace Memorial park where the ATOMIC DOME was. Along the way met some Italians. They were surprised I could speak Italian. Very interesting people. The park was full of people but the atmosphere was incredibly peaceful. It’s like there was another layer of mood covering this place. Full of elementary school children. They came to tourists and asked where we were from, what was special from our country, and by the end of their intense interview, they said “Japan is a peace country” (Oddio, che bellisimi bambini).
  • Entered the Peace Memorial museum (50 yen). The complete story of Atomic Bomb that happened in 1945 was described and explained there. The most heartbreaking part was a lot of pieces of things owned by the victims were shown there such as burned hat, torn children clothes, melted roof tiles, and a “a human-shaped dark sign at a wall” which showed there was once a man sitting there and suddenly disappeared within a second when the blast reached him. A place you must visit.
  • continued journey to Miyamaguchi. Bought feet sore balm at local shop (1000 yen)
  • crossed the sea to Miyajima Island by Matsudai Ferry (provided with the pass)
  • had lunch in local restaurant to try Hiroshima Okonomiyaki (740 yen)
  • lots, lots, lots, lots of deer. everywhere deer. deer everywhere.and they are all tame
  • Explore the Island by this route:
    • Itsukushima Shrine (bought amulet 800 yen), on the way to next stop, had a chance to join two Canadian travelers, Wahaj and Sasha.
    • Daisho-in Temple (very peaceful because no other tourists seemed in sight)
    • Momijidani Park
    • Five-storied Pagoda
    • Watching Sunset at Otorii (the big gate near beach) – most beautiful sight.
  • Went back to Hiroshima station and had dinner (sushi and bread – 270 yen) *sushi is discounted almost 50% after 8 p.m. in the supermarket*
  • then prepared to take a bus to Kyoto (willer express)

Hiroshima is a PERFECT city to visit if you don’t like too many people. The city will offer you such peace and humbleness. This was my favorite even though it was such a short stay. And it has tram. Yay tram!

10 June 2015 – Kyoto day 1

  • Arrived at Kyoto around 8 a.m. Kyoto gave you this vibe of traditional town which don’t have many tall buildings and buses are the main transportation to go around Kyoto. Or you can do it by bike!
  • Went to the central bus station and bought Kyoto bus one day pass (500 yen). *One day Bus pass can also be bought at some places, hostel and hotel usually have them*
  • Went to my Hostel (Khaosan Kyoto Theater 2.800 yen/night) at Kawaramachi area (famous market area), took quick bath and asked for some recommended route for day 1.
  • The exploration began.
  • Ginkakujimichi bus stop- Ginkakuji temple or Silver pavilion temple (500 yen). Rest on the north east of Kyoto, with its famous white sand garden and lots of beautiful flowers. Tried the choux with green tea filling. Must try! (350 yen)
  • Also bought gifts around Ginkakuji. The items are a bit cheaper than other places (as long as I could remember). So buy stuffs and souvenurs here if you’d like to!
  • Stroll around at east area of Kyoto (Ginkakuji area) and visited other small temples. Then had lunch with pasta al pomodoro at 7eleven (450 yen). IT’S NOT A REAL PASTA SO DON’T ASK.
  • Nijojo-mae bus stop – Nijo-jo Castle (600 yen). You can go inside and walk around inside the castle. The wooden floors and all the wall decorations and paintings were mesmerizing. They took you into the past as you were watching them. A very nice atmosphere. I really like it!
  • Went to Fushimi Inari Shrine by Keihan Line from Gion-Shijo Station. Fushimi-Inari is a very famous shrine with Senbon Torii (1000 shrine gates) that lined up from the bottom to the up of the Mount Inari. Well, I don’t really have time to count it all but it seemed to be true!
  • Went up the hill to the top of the Shrine. Met with fellow travelers from Switzerland, Raf and Joe and walked together (didn’t miss out to take pictures together also) *the atmosphere was told to be felt best around dawn or dusk*
  • As we walked down the mountain, we saw a lot of interesting things such as a little waterfall, lots of fox masks, spider webs, and vending machines (It’s Japan). Met a local when we thought we were lost and she guided us back to the rightful station. She was a local teacher. With my limited Japanese and her quite good English, we had a short interesting conversation as we head towards Gion.
  • Went down back to Gion area and had dinner at local Ramen restaurant. Thanks Joe! (0 yen)

11 June 2015 – Kyoto day 2

  • Kinkakujimae bus stop – Kinkakuji temple or the Golden Pavilion 400 yen (golden temple, lake, very beautiful garden). Went with Canadian hostel mate, Mark. Kinkakuji will leave you breathless with its beautiful golden temple and its perfect reflection on the lake nearby.
  • Met Raf and Joe and decided to join together again.
  • Ryoanji temple, located very close to the Kinkakuji (took bus). Ryoanji is famous with its zen garden.
  • Iwatayama monkey forest. Aside from the temple sites exploration, we decided to visit the monkeys forest at Iwatayama. You have to climb (a bit) to see Kyoto from above and more monkeys. On the top of the place, a guide is ready to scatter foods so the monkey will run around and sometimes fight to take the foods. You can also give them food inside a house (don’t worry, the monkeys are still outside and you can feed them through safety nets).
  • Arashiyama bamboo forest. It was raining and it’s such a good atmosphere to stroll around under the bamboo forest with the cold hahaha
  • Decided to wrap the exploration by visiting Gion. Gion is a part of city where the traditional houses still stand and offer you old neighborhood of Japan. I also luckily could spot a Miko running around. Walking through this neighborhood was really a calming and nice experience.
  • Had Okonomiyaki for dinner at Issen Yoshoku (680 yen)
  • Went to hostel and had a good chats with fellow travelers. Apparently, I just realised that i missed one big temple to see and decided to see it next morning with fellow Brazillian, Luiz.

12/6 Kyoto day 3 – Nara

  • Visited Kiyomizu-Dera temple in early morning (well, it’s not to early haha) before went to Nara *it’s better to visit this temple early in the morning to avoid a ridiculous amount of people (It’s even more famous than the Kinkakuji ~well~)*. Kiyomizu-dera is also famous with its grand size and upheld by big wooden pillars as its foundation. You can also find The Otowa Waterfall where you can choose which stream of water you want to drink, each symbolize longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life (by drinking all of the three streams will simpl means you’re greedy!)
  • Went to Kyoto station and departed for Osaka

Nara

  • Took train to Osaka – Namba area (390 yen) , put bag in the locker, then continued to Nara (Kintentsu Nara station 540 yen) *Nara is famous with the deers walking around freely all over the town and the GIANT-sized temple, Todaji Temple*
  • Arrived at Nara, got some maps, and start walking around. You can spend only half a day to explore around Nara by feet.
  • Kofukuji Temple
  • Five story pagoda
  • Kasugataisha shrine
  • Todaji temple. Todaji temple is probably the biggest temple I’ve ever seen in my life. Inside, there’s also the biggest Buddha I’ve ever seen in my life (I haven’t seen the one at Hongkong). The amount of amazement I had was just too much.
  • And many deers, deers, and deers (you can buy their food 100 yen and feed them). The deers also will bow to you when you’re going to feed them (if you’re lucky)
  • Bought Gyoza and Ice cream cake (300 yen) then back to Osaka (540 yen)

Osaka

  • Went to Kosuke’s home again! Second time we went to the Hamasushi. This time I didn’t hold back to eat as many sushis as I want. But apparently, I only managed to eat 6 plates and Kosuke ate 9 plates. He’s such a sushi Lover!

 

13 June 2015 – Osaka, Kobe, and Himeji ~last day~

Himeji

  • Kosuke told me about this castle I had to visit before I went back to Indonesia. I wasn’t aware of this castle before and I was glad he brought it up. Turned out this castle has just opened this year after years of renovation. We decided to visit Himeji Castle. (from osaka it’s around 2000 yen for round trip)
  • We took morning train as we didn’t want to stuck in the long queue for enter the castle. The castle itself wasn’t too far from the Himeji Station (about 20 minutes by feet)
  • It was majestic even from faraway. Entrance fee was 1000 yen (most expensive entrance fee)
  • You can see it all. The grand design of this castle. The hole where the warriors pierce their spears into their enemy’s heart. The small wooden alley. The big wooden alley. Being inside such a great witness of history or the history itself was the feeling I yearned when I visited Japan. I always like it.
  • Bought takoyaki at the local street market along the way to the station

Kobe

  • Coming to Kobe which is located between Osaka and Himeji was a suggestion Kosuke offered too. We went to the famous Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge (the world’s longest suspension bridge). it spans the Akashi Strait (Akashi Kaikyo) between Kobe and Awaji Island and is part of the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway, one of three expressways which connect Honshu with Shikoku. The local people usually come there for a picnic or fishing.
  • Kobe is also famous with its beef! So we decided to have lunch there. The restaurant is called “Ebisu”. I had a beef bowl (600 yen) while Kosuke ate Kaisendon.
  • Went back to Osaka

Osaka – last day – before departing to Kansai airport (screm histerically)

  • Even in my last time in Osaka, I still had little surprise to my journey. As we arrived at Kosuke house and I was getting ready for my flight, Kosuke’s parents came and ask us to join a birthday dinner for Otou-san! Tanjoubi Omedetto! So we went to the local Soba shop. We all ate cold soba. It was also my first time trying cold soba and had a chance to try dipping the noodle into a mix of fresh egg and soy sauce. It tasted amazing! I never tasted it before and I thought it was not too good. But apparently I was wrong and I really liked it!
  • Kosuke and I went to Namba (Kosuke had other meeting to attend to and I parted my way to go to Kansai International Airport). Hontoni arigatou, Kosuke-san!!!
  • As I was remembering my whole 9 days experience in Japan like an old movie roll in my head, I finally arrived at the airport and I realized it was time to face the real world again hahaha.

Japan is a country full of respects. I personally didn’t feel anything dangerous lurking around so it is a perfect choice for a first time solo traveler. The people are extremely polite and very welcoming. I studied Japanese for a short time before went to Japan and it was very useful since not everyone can speak English! It would also put smile on their faces when foreigners try to speak their language even with struggle! So enjoy Japan and don’t think twice to visit this amazing country! FIN~

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