japan, post travel

Japan: bullet trains, family time, good food and lots of walking

I’ve been back home in Seattle for four days and am still trying to recover from my jet lag. I enjoyed a fantastic two-week vacation in Japan visiting family and also exploring new places.

Isn’t that the best though? When you get to see family and also see new cities you have never been to? At least, I think so, anyway!

There are so many things I want to share with you, and before it all leaves my memory, I’ll outline what I did. If you are really interested in learning more about anything below, just holler and I’ll be sure to blog about it soon/later! Or, if nothing else, this will serve as a reminder of some things I want to share with you later on regardless 🙂

  • Day 1: Arrived into Narita International Airport in the late afternoon. Took a bullet train to Kamakura, where my grandma lives.
  • Day 2: Headed out early to catch the bullet train to Osaka. Even though I have been to Japan more times than I can count, this was my first time going to Osaka.
  • Day 3: Day trip to Nara. Visited multiple temples and Nara Park, where deer roam around freely and visitors can feed them. Back to Osaka for the night.
  • Day 4: Left Osaka around 7 am to head to Kyoto. Highlights of the day included:
    • Visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine, known for its rows and rows of red torii gates, in the pouring rain.
    • Walking around Gion with my relatives and then enjoying a 12-course lunch of multiple dishes made of tofu, prepared in different ways.
  • Day 5: Spent a majority of the day in Arashiyama —Walked through the bamboo forest, hiked up Iwatayama to see the monkeys.
    • In the afternoon, went to Kinkaku-ji and Ryoan-ji
    • Took a 5:30 pm bullet train back to Kamakura to spend New Year’s Eve with my family.
  • Day 6: New Year’s Day we obviously enjoyed osechi-ryori. Bryce and I wanted to make use of our Japan Rail Pass so we took the train up to Yokosuka and walked around there. Yokosuka has a US Naval Base so it sort of reminded me of Bremerton.
  • Day 7: Day trip to Sendai. We went to the Zuihoden Temple and then went further north to Matsushima Bay. There are 260 little islands in this bay! It was kind of like the San Juans of Japan.
  • Day 8: Shopping and eating in Totsuka — nothing super special here, it’s just the closest place for decent shopping to Kamakura without going all the way to Tokyo or even Yokohama.
  • Day 9: Spent the day in Odaiba, Tokyo with my cousins. A majority of our day was spent exploring TeamLab Borderless.
  • Day 10: Hiked Takao-san. Lucked out with the weather. It was a sunny and clear day and we could see Fuji-san from the top! This hike had a nice mixture of temple hopping, stops for mochi and then quieter trails that were less crowded and peaceful along a river.
  • Day 11: Went on a little run in the morning. Had a low-key day in Kamakura. Went to the Starbucks Reserve to try to catch up on my journaling.
  • Day 12: Spent the day in Ueno, Tokyo. Explored Ueno Park, went to the Tokyo National Museum and Ameyokocho market.
  • Day 13: Back to Tokyo for our last full day! Spend the morning in Nakameguro. Tried to hide from the rain at a Peanuts (Snoopy) cafe we stumbled upon. In the afternoon we went to the Ghibli Museum.
  • Day 14: Bryce showed me a trail in Kamakura that he had found that leads you up to a lookout of the ocean and Fuji-san! We had a nice little trail run before we needed to head out for our train to the airport. Also stopped at Egara Tenjinsha Shrine, which is near my grandma’s, to pay tribute to all the scholars in my life. (It’s the scholar temple). Then it was time to say good-byes and journey back home.

Well, there you have it. What a trip! I didn’t even mention all the things we ate but I’m not even exaggerating when I say I had some type of matcha dessert, or beverage, once a day while on vacation.

I am looking forward to having a normal sleep schedule — once the jet lag wears off — as I’m pretty sure I was getting less sleep while on vacation than I normally do at home! With all the early mornings to catch trains and heading out on day trips, I wasn’t getting my allotted 8-hours of sleep!

I’m not complaining. It was a fantastic trip.

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