How long was your stay?
How did you travel?
As a family
Tell us why you traveled to this destination.
It was my dream country since I was a child. My love for their language and animation culture was a big part of my childhood hobbies.
What was your itinerary?
Day 2: Visited Akihabara for shopping.
Give us all the details! Tell us where you went and what you did on your trip.
Japan, oh Japan! Everything was impressive! Japan was on my buckled list of must-go before I die countries and it did not disappoint. I loved the experience! Everything was so cute! The buildings, the cars, the people! An unforgettable experience! Since we didn’t have much time in every city, we just dipped into some of the top attractions of each town and tried to enjoy them as best as we could.
TOKYO We arrived at Nara Airport and I was already fascinated by everything they had. Even with jetlag, we went outside and made the most of every second. So, our first stop and main stop from the overall trip was Tokyo. A huge and busy city situated in the center east side of Japan. We stayed at a rental apartment a little far from all the main attractions, but in a quiet area to feel the local experience. On the first day, we went to Kaminarimon Gate, a landmark temple gate with a huge lantern. Just behind the lantern, there was a huge market, with many souvenirs and food stalls spread all over.
The deeper we walked in, we reached a temple where one could buy lucky charms, make a wish, and see your luck for the year. It was funny how there was an English translation behind that prediction sheet. Oh, by the way, I had a positive reply from the god of that temple for that year! Lucky me! But to be honest, I didn’t need to see my luck, the fact that I got to go to Japan was already my signal of luck of the year! After all that excitement we went to eat at KURA, a sushi restaurant. It was a cheap, nice and very yummy place! There was even a gachapon lucky trial for every 10 dishes you took from the spinning tape. **Gachapon are those machines for kids, where you normally introduce a coin and spin for a ball to drop out. I was so addicted to them! Another place we visited was Akihabara, a place famous for its many electronics shops and has also gained recognition as the centre of Japan’s otaku culture. A heaven for many fanatics of anime/manga fans like myself. Even though we went twice, it was not enough to go through all the shopping malls and shops around that district.
One of the things that surprised me the most was all those maid cafes; we could see maids everywhere trying to attract customers. The Pokémon Centre was another of my favourites! We normally see those on TikTok, Instagram reels, and post articles… I was able to experience and be surrounded by Pokemons of all sizes. Then also lucky me, I was able to book a table at the Pokémon Cafe and sit myself surrounded by many Pikachus. (The god from the Kaminarimon temple was right!) Japan is really the otaku heaven, even at the Tokyo Tower, just by the entrance, there was a One Piece themed shop, and many places and things had anime references!
There was also Odaiba, a popular shopping and entertainment district on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. A very nice area with many attractions to visit. As for ourselves, we spent our day walking around the bay. (Which by the way, there were many Olympics signs around the area, because, in that year, the Olympics games were supposed to happen in Japan). We took many pictures and visited the DiverCity Tokyo Plaza featuring attractions related to the Gundam anime series, including a large, life-size Gundam statue in front of the building and Gundam Base Tokyo, a shop dedicated to plastic models. One word: AMAZING! Through a lot of research, all the blogs post I found as to where to buy souvenirs, of them indicated to go to Don Quijote. At this shop, you could absolutely find anything! Most of their stores were huge, some had 4 to 5 floors.
KYOTO We took the Shinkansen (The Japanese bullet train) to Kyoto. The experience on the train was that it was hectic and fast. I think it took us about 2h15min to travel 458km. As soon as we got there, we went straight to Mimaru Hotel which was amazing and perfectly situated near the train station. Since we only stayed for 2 days, we had to make the most of our time there. Fushimi Inari Taisha was the must-go in the listed places. We walked under the rain from the hotel to this famous shrine. We crossed the Kamo river and enjoyed the scenery of a peaceful town full of historic values. An even more traditional atmosphere as we got closer to the Fushimi Inari Taisha, many street foods were placed there, selling traditional small dishes for everyone going there to enjoy.
*** Interesting fact: In Japan, you are not allowed to walk and eat at the same time, so whenever we had to eat, we would stop on the side and eat. This place was fantastic, even though it was quite crowded, there was a sense of peace when crossing all those over 1000 gates (toris). The trails we followed led into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters. We pretty much hiked a mountain. After this amazing day, we went to the Geisha Street. At Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue. It was filled with shops, restaurants and ochava (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertained. Unfortunately, we were not able to appreciate a geisha show because we didn’t book in advance. However, we appreciated the atmosphere and even had a glimpse of a geisha from afar.
The next day, we went to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, another main attraction of Kyoto. The walking paths that cut through the bamboo groves make for a nice walk, as like every day, we took many pictures and helped other people take amazing pictures too! It was also a little overcrowded, but everyone respected the area. The groves were particularly attractive when there was a light wind and the tall bamboo gently moved back and forth. While on the stroll towards the bamboo, we crossed paths with the Nonomiya shrine, which was a marriage shrine with many people dressed in kimonos. I was unable to stop myself and took many pictures of them! To conclude our stay in this area, we crossed the Togetsukyo Bridge, which means the “Moon Crossing Bridge” which is one of Arashiyama’s most iconic landmarks. This site was particularly photogenic because of the combination of the Katsu river and the forested mountains in the background. Just before heading back to Tokyo, we went to Kurama Onsen to experience the hot spring. This hotel was located on the outskirts of a rural village and next to the Kurama River, which also welcomed outside customers, like us, to enjoy their hot spring. To be honest, it was great but at the same time a little bit weird because we had to bathe naked with other people. However, after being used to it, I become relaxed and even fell asleep in the hot spring.
NARA Nara express in one day! Nara was located less than an hour from Kyoto. The city remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples. Our main purpose for this stop was to visit the Nara Park dressed in a kimono. However, just as we walked in from the train station to the park, we had an amazing timing to find and see by ourselves how mochis were made in a live open show from a shop situated on the way to the park. The process was amazing and the mochi was even more incredible! So soft and chewy! So, after the mochi, we looked for a kimono rental and got change. The shop helped us put on the kimono and even did our hair! I felt like a princess. It was not the most comfortable, but worth doing it once. We then went into Nara Park and saw so many bambis! The deer, used to being fed, approached everyone without fear and even knew how to bow to ask for food. Quite a fun experience. We kind of overestimated the size of the park, it was an endless walk with many temples and castle-like places.
Some of the places we stopped by to have a look around were the Kofuku-ji Buddhist temple, which occupied a large area with over 100 buildings; and the Hiromu Shrine, which was a serene temple with a very tempting traditional entrance with many Sakura trees. As always, we took many pictures! So before heading back to Kyoto, to finalize the day we had another stroll at Nishiki Market, which was filled with many Japanese cuisines.
Would you recommend this trip to a friend?
What was the highlight of your trip?
Everything was great, even the 7/11 shops were so good.
If you were to take this trip again, is there anything you would add or do differently?
The Tokyo accommodation, for next time I would choose a more convenient place to stay at. It was a bit far from everything. Also, next time, I would stay longer around the Kyoto area and visit Osaka as well!
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