My first trip to Asia: Part Two - Japan!
Updated: Apr 11, 2021
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After two amazing weeks in South Korea, it was time for part two of our adventure. We arrived in Fukuoka after a 3 hour ferry ride from Busan, found our hotel (through the scorching heat - note to self - May can be quite a hot month in Japan) and went on a little journey to BIC Camera to buy some 4G simcards. My broken Japanese is nothing to be proud of, but luckily for us the shop attendents there were absolutely wonderful. We got what we came for (and some snacks, as you do, would be rude not to) and went to see a local temple. As a side note, if you get to Japan by plane you can order a sim card and pick it up from the airport instead. We wanted to be adventurous so we found a different way.
We spent two and a half days in Fukuoka where we had some of the best Udon noodles i could dream of (Hakata Udon) and saw absolutely stunning temples. My first glimpse of Japan was more impressive than I could have wished for.
Next step, Kyoto.
Before we travelled to Kyoto we went to Hakata station to exchange our Japan Rail Passes to tickets. You need to buy the pass before you get to Japan. You can buy it for 7/14/21 days and it can only be used by foreign visitors. It gives you unlimited use of JR rail or JR bus services. Definitely definitely worth it. It saves you a lot of money. We had most of our trip planned ahead so we knew the exact dates when we wanted to travel. We exchanged our passes for those precise tickets and we were on our way to Kyoto.
In Kyoto, the accomodation we booked was a Japanese-style room in a hostel. The picture doesn't do it justice. It was the best night's rest I had in a while.
We were there for only 2 days, but we still managed to see Kyoto Tower, a few Shrines and Temples and we dined in a Japanese traditional restaurant.
Kyoto seems to be a magnificent blend of old and new, of overwhelmingly modern fearures and peaceful shrines. In the rapid-developing modern society, it was mesmerising to see that the City of 10000 Shrines can somehow maintain that balance. It looks to me like one of the best cities you could live in.
Out of all the wonders we have seen in Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine stuck with me the most. I'll admit, I didn't do much research about it before getting there so we were not prepared for all it had to offer. It takes quite a few hours to get to the top and back, on a hiking trail covered in torii gates. Since we didn't make it to the top (got too tired and it was getting dark) It's now my ambition to go back there early in the morning and finish what I started.
We got on the Shinkansen again and headed to Tokyo. I had one of the best Bento ever and a mind-blowing melon flavoured pastry I will never forget. I know it's just pastry, but trust me on this one.
We arrived in Tokyo mentally prepared for the same sort of ancient/new blend. We started with the National Museum and the Imperial Palace.
Since I am a major fan of anime and manga, for day 2 Tokyo One Piece Tower was the plan. It did not dissapoint. I could easily spend there hours and hours...We saw a live show, played all the games and bought all the souvenirs we could carry. I would do it all again tomorrow if I could. When the pandemic stops and things go back to some sort of normal I'm hoping I will be able to. (Edit, Tokyo One Piece Tower has now closed for good)
Day 3 saw us at the Samurai Museum in Shinjuku where I was just in awe for the full time we were there, we saw a live performance and then took a little trip to Akihabara because manga and anime, that's why.
The next day we went back to South Korea, but how we got there you can find out more in part 3.