Hi! I wanted to share the rest of our Japan trip with y’all. If you missed Part 1 (Osaka and Kinosaki Onsen), you can find it here. After our public bath adventure in Kinosaki Onsen, we got a very early start and headed to Kyoto. The train ride was about three hours. Once in Kyoto, the Fushimi Inari shrine was right outside of the train station. This shrine is known for its numerous orange Tori gates leading up to the shrine. There were tons of people (maybe almost too many), and according to Trip Advisor, it is the #1 tourist spot for foreigners in Japan.
|Almost got a picture without anyone in it 🙂|
After getting our share of the Tori gates, we headed over to the Gion district where the Geisha are located. We walked through one of the preserved historic streets. Next we caught a show at the Gion Corner. The show had a tea service, harp playing, dancing, a comic play, and a Geisha dance where you can take pictures (normally you are not supposed to take pictures of the Geisha).
Following the show, we walked the preserved historic streets uphill to the Kiyomizudera Temple which was lit up at night. This was another very popular tourist spot, but the boyfriend got some awesome pictures. The temple was built on the side of a mountain with lots of wood structure support underneath.
While in Kyoto, we stayed at the Urban Hotel Kyoto. This hotel and the one we stayed at in Tokyo were the smallest.
On our second day in Kyoto we headed to the Bamboo forest by a 20 minute train ride. This was one of the landmarks I had found on Pinterest and was excited to see it. There was a short walk into the bamboo forest from the train station–we just followed the flow of people. At first there were a lot of powerlines, and I was thinking “this is not how Pinterest made it look! Pinterest LIED!” haha! But then it cleared out to only the think bamboo which was really neat. Much more of what I was expecting : )
After the bamboo forest, we headed back to the Gion district to see the Kiyomizudera temple when it was less crowded.
The next day we rode the train about two and a half hours to Matsumoto. Here we visited the Matsumoto castle, which is the oldest, original and one of the most famous castles in Japan. We were actually able to walk through the castle and take pictures inside.
|Obligatory cheesy tourist picture with the Samurai : )|
Next, we rented a little Nissan Flair and drove an hour (through a ton of tunnels) to Nori Kora, a mountain town in the Japanese Alps. We stayed in the Petit Alumu, a German looking hotel. We must have hit the offseason because we were the only people in the hotel. The leaves had all changed, and it was too early for skiing. We had a comfy, decent sized room, and a very sweet family ran the hotel. It also had its own hot spring that you could sign up for. We ended up eating all of our meals in the two nights we stayed there except for lunch. Nori Kora was a nice break after experiencing such a crowded Kyoto.
|She had lots of flowers inside…a woman after my own heart : )|
It was at the Petit Alumu that I discovered lattes. They probably barely had any expresso in them…but it is a step towards coffee for me : ) After breakfast, we drove to one of the trails and took a short hike to a waterfall.
Then we drove on a mountain road to try and see the Kamikochi mountains from the Kappa Bridge. We weren’t able to make it all of the way because the road was closed but still got a good picture.
And guess what we saw on our drive back??
There was a whole family of them just crossing the street. We did not get too close since they are mean sometimes. Afterwards, back at the hotel, we had a chill day. I caught up on my journal and wrote some postcards while the boyfriend did some reading. It was nice to have a break from the normal “go-go-go” mode that we always seem to be on while on international trips.
After Nori Kora, we drove back to Matsumoto to return our rental car and hop on a two hour train to Tokyo, our final stop. In Tokyo, we stayed at the Fresa Inn at Nihombashi-Ningyocho near Tokyo Station (I forgot to take pictures of it, I know I’m a slacker : ) But to give you an idea, it was about the same size as our hotel in Kyoto.
Our first stop in Tokyo was the Ginza shopping district with all of the fancy stores. It was a nice day with a lot of people out and about.
Next we took a short train ride and walk over to Roppongi, the party district.
|Lights near the Fuji Center|
|View of the Tokyo Tower on our walk|
ate at the Mermaid, a British pub where a lot of tourists frequent. I definitely thought that Tokyo was prettier at night.
Afterwards we walked to the Shinjuku Garden and explored different areas for Koi fish.
And on a personal note, the boyfriend proposed in the garden with an origami ring that he made! I later got to pick out my own ring : ) Sad that we forgot to ask someone to take a picture of us at the place he got down on one knee…oopsies!
Next we took a short train ride to the Meji Shrine, with its ginormous Tori gates leading up to it.
|We are not sure why there were ships made of fruit, rice, Saki, and vegetables…|
Afterwards we headed to the Tokyo Train station and to the Imperial Palace. It was almost dark when we reached the Imperial Palace so we didn’t get to see much of it. The Imperial Palace had a moat surrounding it and also had a nice 3 mile walking trail around it.
On our last day in Tokyo, we wanted to go to Shibuya, the crazy crossing square, but it was raining. Our only goal for the day was to visit the Sky Tree to get an awesome night picture of Tokyo. However, because of the weather we couldn’t see anything and decided to skip it. So we ended our stay in Roppongi checking out Brew Dogs.
Planning a trip to Japan? Be sure to check out my tips for traveling in Japan.
Thanks for stopping by!