Thursday, February 17, 2011

Land of the Rising Sun

Japan was clean. Not just in a no-gum-on-the-sidewalks way, but in a design sense as well. Things in Korea can be a bit ramshackled at times, and there were little to no signs of this in the parts of Japan that we saw. The roads weren't cracked, their weren't cigarette butts on the sidewalks, and all the hedges were trimmed. It was a beautiful place.

Travelling in the winter is in a lot of ways a big advantage. Small crowds, easy accommodation, and great photo ops without all the people. We travelled to Kyoto and Tokyo and saw beautiful shrines, temples, geishas, mountains, and plenty of culture.

Fushimi-Inari Shrine

This place was endless. We walked for hours and still didn't see the whole things. Long, winding paths through the Kyoto mountains, covered with these orange gates.


Our book talked about geishas like they were as scarce as a leprechaun, but we found Kyoto to be full of them. We saw them in traditional districts at first and were captivated, but by the time we left Kyoto we'd ridden buses with them, stood in line at stores with them, and watched them shop. They were everywhere, it was so interesting to see them as part of the culture, not something that only exists in one place.

Kinkaku-ji Temple

It's golden. The thing is pretty ridiculous, but still captivating. There is an awesome gold bird on top of it, kind of like a weather vane. Apparently, the guy who lived here was completely obsessed with this temple, to the point of insanity.


We ate a lot of sushi. This was at a conveyor belt restaurant, where you grabbed anything that looked interesting. They counted your plates and charged you for what you had. You could also use the touch screen to order something not on the belt, and it would come out on a toy train straight to your table.

Vending Machines

They are EVERYWHERE in Japan. They sell anything from beer and cigarettes to cola and coffee (hot or cold).


The city is so big there is no end in sight.

I mentioned things being clean...this is a public toilet. You could always be sure that the bathrooms were clean, both in architecture and inside.

Maybe you saw Lost In Translation. This intersection is in the movie. I'll have to say, the picture doesn't capture how busy this place was. It is much like Times Square in New York.


We were able to see Sumo practice one morning. This was a highlight of our trip, it was so awesome to see these guys go at it. We watched outside a small stable for almost an hour. It was captivating.


We found a 5 story arcade, with two bowling alleys in it. There is an entire floor dedicated to crane machines. This one offered the chance to will a jumbo bucket of ramen.


  1. I read a movie review about Japanese buying "pet" bugs from vending machines. Did you see any of those? Huge Goliath Beetles, etc. I think I prefer a cat, but I don't think I want to buy one from a vending machine.

  2. Ha, no I didn't see that. I wouldn't be surprised though. The Chinese also like bugs as pets, and they fight them as well.