Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo
  • Day19

    Home again, home again

    February 26 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    After a bit of a sleep in we packed up our things for the last time and stored our luggage in a coin locker at Shinjuku station. We headed to the Fire Museum... which was shut as it was the day after a public holiday. Instead we went to the nearby Toy Museum which was awesome! They had different displays in categories of toys and some you could play with. The toys were mostly wooden old school toys. We played a game like air hockey except the players were magnetised by their bases and you controlled them under the table. One of the workers explained how to play, with actions, as she didn't speak any English. It would be a great place to take young kids for a few hours - they had a really cool set up where you pulled wooden carrots out of a padded trough to simulate picking carrots and lots of hands on tricky but simple puzzles. After an adventure to a ramen place for lunch (which only had fish ramen we weren't keen on), we headed back to Shinjuku station for lunch. We then tried to find our bags, and after a few minutes of panic we found the right corridor and unlocked our bags and headed for the Narita Express. Check in and immigration was super smooth at Narita Airport. And the crew on our flight were awesome! Much better than the way over. Landing safely at 5:13am, we are now home. I'm still the Off Duty Pharmacist for a few more days before heading back to work next week. What a trip! I'll miss the cool weather, warm toilet seats, saying "arigatou gozaimasu" and bowing my head all the time, the Japanese friendliness, and of course the food. Time to plan the next holiday!Read more

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  • Day17

    Tokyo

    February 24 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Today we ventured out to the Samurai Museum. The museum was small but houses original armour and weapons, some 450 years old. Included in the admission price was an hour long tour which we both enjoyed. I learnt there was a very strong samurai and sword maker named Musashi which made me laugh - it's a popular protein powder brand in Australia. The guide had lived in Australia for a year and pointed this out to everyone else. After the museum we headed to Ichiran to get our ramen fix. B said he felt much more prepared this time 😊. We jumped on a train to Shibuya to see the big crossing and then wandered the streets to get to Harajuku. Here we went down Takeshita Street where we had a few snacks - crepes, freshly made potato crisps and the most deliciously crunchy pastry with custard inside it. We then headed to the train station and back to the AirBNB. For dinner we went to nearby MOS Burger and had our last Japanese style icecream for dessert.Read more

  • Day16

    The sides of Tokyo

    February 23 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    Today we set out for the Edo-Tokyo Museum which details Tokyo's history. They had lots of displays of typical streets and a life size temple recreation. We then went around the corner to a gyoza restaurant I found on Google maps, which turned out to be a famous gyoza place - Kameido Gyoza. For ¥760 we got 10 deliciously juicy and crisp gyoza, with a savoury soup, a small plate of cooked bean sprouts and a bowl of rice. As someone who loves gyoza, this was amazing! Next we went to Asakusa to see the Sensoji temple. The streets in the lead up to the temple were some of the busiest we have encountered so far, so we didn't stop for any sweet treats. Instead we headed over to Akihabara. Here we went into M's, which can only be described as a cramped 6 floor "lifestyle store". No pictures allowed so I wasn't able to get a picture of the eggplant, carrot or corn shaped dildos 😂😂. Vegophiles get excited! Next we went into the Sega arcade where we B tried his luck on a skill tester (UFO game). He was definitely tested! On the top floor they had games so we played a two player drumming game for ¥400. The streets in Akihabara are shut to traffic on Sundays so we wandered down the middle of the road, stopping for a coffee break at a cafe. We loved roaming this area, it really showed us the modern side of Tokyo. Warmed up, we went to Don Quijote, a massive discount store with every item under the sun. From here we headed back to the AirBNB, stopping at Hatsudai for Coco Curry House for dinner! Once back we filled the bath for a nice relaxing soak.Read more

  • Day15

    Tokyo

    February 22 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Today we headed to Team Lab Borderless, a digital art museum in Odaiba, Tokyo. We spent about 3 hours exploring all the exhibits. The whole museum is dark and many entrances to exhibits are hidden so you just explore. We had some lunch nearby and then headed to the emerging science and innovation museum which had a lot of interactive displays. Our favourite was one where we were each in a small room and were directed to pick up the telephone. On my side was a skill tester game and on B's side was 4 buttons and a countdown timer. We each didn't know what the other could see nor what the exhibit was about so it made things super interesting! We definitely didn't work it out in the first alotted three minutes 😂 we had dinner at an amazing sushi place in Shinjuku on our way back!Read more

  • Day14

    Kamakura

    February 21 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    Today we ventured to Kamakura by train, arriving at about lunch time. We wandered the main street looking at all the street food and deciding what to eat. On the way back down Komachi Street we sampled quite a few delicious items: a herb sausage, matcha tiramisu, a beef korokke (croquette), cheesecake baum, lemon crepe, pork bun, pumpkin set custard and dango (brown sugar soy for B and 4 flavours for me - Sakura, chestnut, edamame and matcha). Yum! We then settled in for the hour long train ride back to Shinjuku. After some adulting at our AirBNB (washing), we headed out to dinner to Hashiya, a Japanese Italian pasta restaurant. B had a tomato based sauce with shrimp and I had a soysauce/butter sauce with veggies. Wow! Absolutely delicious and hit the spot!Read more

  • Day13

    Tokyo

    February 20 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

    Today we travelled to Tokyo by Shinkansen, taking approximately 3 hours. We transferred at Shinagawa to Shinjuku. We are staying in a neighbourhood called Hatagaya, just near Shinjuku. Once we settled into our AirBNB we headed out to a Shinjuku Bar Hopping tour I booked last night. Ironically there were 4 other Aussies on the tour. We visited two izakayas and had some drinks and food before heading to a sake bar which was on the 10th floor of a building. B tried yakitori including pork heart and liver. I played it safe with gyoza and a tofu dish. We got to see the infamous omoide yokocho, also known as memory lane and the lights of Shinjuku.Read more

  • Day12

    Hedgehogs and snacks

    February 19 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

    Today we decided to have a slower day to prepare for Tokyo tomorrow! We lazed around until 11ish and went to Harry Wood, a hedgehog cafe. There we met our new best friend Ricopin. He likes snuggling, crawling into armpits (and almost down B's hoodie sleeve 😂), eating grubs, and being stroked on his back. We said our farewells to our new friend and headed to dotonbori food street. Here we tried lots of street food for lunch - pork buns from Horai 551, takoyaki (balls with melt in the mouth octopus in them), mitarashi dango, melonpan icecream and daifuku. All incredibly delicious. We then slowly made the walk back, stopping in a few shops as we went. We chilled out for a bit before heading out for dinner - pork with rice, miso soup, tofu and cabbage and a beer for B.Read more

  • Day11

    Kobe

    February 18 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 8 °C

    Well intentioned, we headed off early at 8:30am to head to Kobe for the day. When we got to the metro there seemed to be an issue and the trains weren't arriving. After a long delay, a train turned up with no one on it and then firemen were inspecting the train. There were many announcements in Japanese and some people left but some were still waiting. Eventually we decided to try another way and got to Shin-Osaka to get the Shinkansen to Shin-Kobe station. When we finally arrived (10:30am - it should have been about a 30 min total trip) we realised the Herb Garden and Ropeway were shut for maintenance 😭 we instead headed to the Earthquake Museum. We had a fantastic time here, made better by a wonderful guide who offered to tour us around a section of the museum and explain the practical activities where the instructions were written in Japanese. She made our visit so much better! The other exhibits had been translated and we could use an audio guide and tablet guide combo. We also got to experience what walking in tsunami waters is like. The museum was really quiet, despite being a free entry day that I had no idea about! Tickets are usually ¥600 per person. We then made our way to Steakland for a late lunch. We had tender beef and Kobe tender beef cooked in front of us and served with rice and grilled veggies. Yum! We could tell the difference between the steaks and the quality of the meat was outstanding, really glad we made the trip here. Total was just over ¥10,000 but worth it in our opinions! We then headed out to the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum. This was an extremely pictorial museum with videos explaining the process of making sake, I was quite impressed given that it was free. At the end we got to taste some sake! The Yuzu and plum were out favourites. We also paid to sample some premium sakes and also had an amazake (fermented rice drink) soft serve icecream which was yummy! With tired feet, we headed back to the main station and got a JR express train back to Osaka, getting back at about 6:30pm. A huge but really enjoyable day!Read more

  • Day10

    Osaka

    February 17 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    After a relaxing slow start, including our infamous convenience store breakfast, we headed to Kyoto Station for a Shinkansen to Osaka. The trip took a whole 13 minutes. When we arrived we dropped our bags off at our apartment in Shinsaibashi and made our way to Osaka Castle. Seems pretty straight forward and getting to the apartment was no issue. We opened the first glass door (push to open), entered a pin code at the next glass door and made it in to the lobby! Then we had to check in by way of iPad which included taking selfies of ourselves from waist height (attractive). We finished all of that, were given our room number and we were successfully checked in. But the key? Our escape room training kicked in - there were lock boxes to the left with apartment numbers on them, each requiring a 4 digit pin code... Not the original door pin code and not our unit number. Perplexed, we considered our options and went through the check in process again to find a page with a scroll bar we had missed! We put the code in and retrieved our key. After successfully escaping (aka finding our unit) we headed to lunch - B spotted an okonomiyaki restaurant right around the corner from our AirBNB. As we strolled to the Castle from the nearest metro station, the wind picked up. Icy icy wind. Once inside the castle we headed for the 8th floor to see the view from the top. It was quite windy! We then looked at the exhibits on each floor on the way down - floors 7-5 were definitely the best, I'm not sure what happened to the rest, it seemed a bit random. We strolled the long way back to the metro station, passing the plum blossoms. Feeling chilled to the bone, we strolled right into Starbucks in the park. Hot chocolate for B and a Sakura (cherry blossom) latte for me. Feeling warm, we headed back to the apartment as it was after 5pm. We settled in and headed out for dinner at about 6:45pm for ramen from ippudo. It was definitely ramen weather and it hit the spot. We've got a shopping street right near our AirBNB so we had a quick look in Daiso on our way back, i think I'll need some gloves (B has some) and B will need a scarf...Read more

  • Day9

    Fushimi Inari Shrine

    February 16 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    Today we woke to a rainy morning. After sandwiches and coffee for breakfast, we headed to Fushimi Inari shrine. We spent about an hour wandering up the hill side under the orange torii gates, the size of each representing the size of the donation. Seeking an indoor activity, we headed to the Kyoto Railway Museum. This museum was fascinating, with many real trains on display so you could see the difference over the years. We entered the train simulator lottery and won! B got to drive a train simulator and try to stop it at the station platforms successfully. He also enjoyed using the horn! Childhood dreams fulfilled, we decided to head back to the delicious katsu place for lunch. Just as good the second time around! We then headed back to our apartment and stopped to buy some drinks, snacks and a light dinner for later. We had a lazy afternoon and evening, finishing with a soak in our tub - could get used to this!Read more