PART 1

So I used to be going by previous emails and footage and located detailed writeups that I despatched a pal of mine throughout our 2016 Japan journey. My pal had by no means been to Japan and knew nothing about it, so I am going to edit/ condense them for readability, as I obtained into some fairly primary explanations that I am positive a variety of you might have found out already.

** do not assume too exhausting in regards to the dates/timeline, as I condensed and typically did not have time to inform Pal about issues till a number of days later, so the emails backtrack to earlier days a number of instances -**

We had been planning on going once more this yr or subsequent yr with our toddler, however alas, pandemic. COVID-19 having slowed down content material on this subreddit, I figured some folks would nonetheless discover this a enjoyable learn.

We did a Four individual journey (myself, my husband (B), my sister (S) and her boyfriend (Okay)) for 24 days, sharing lodging and good bit of meals/transport prices, relying on what we had been doing. We ended up realizing that rising comfort or consolation usually did not price much more than the most affordable choices, so we regularly paid an additional $5-8/ evening to get a enterprise lodge as a substitute of a hostel. We additionally opted for the comfort of the JR cross (which paid off for us) and the Jetfoil ferry.

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Here is our finances in CAD – Tough deliberate (precise): pp = per individual

Deliberate finances:

Aircraft ticket for [SISTER] & [SISTER’s BF]- $800- 1000pp (Precise price: $1100cad pp for YVR-PVG-NRT spherical journey)

Aircraft tickets for husband and I: 150Okay Alaska miles +$220cad (YVR-NRT direct)

Tokyo lodging – 180 pp ($189 – $121 pp at Lodge Horidome Villa, 2 rooms x Three days, then $68 pp at an airbnb close to Oku Station x3)

Kyoto Lodging – 123 pp   ($367pp for 13 days at an japanese townhouse airbnb close to Sanjo Station)  

Meals                      – 400 pp (I did not find yourself monitoring what we ate, nevertheless it was nearer to $500 as we ate so many snacks and tried a variety of eating places).

21 day JR Rail cross       – 570 pp ($692 pp with taxes – the fee went up between us planning the journey and precise buy, a number of months later)

Sights                     – 200 pp ($10 per attraction/15 days of sights) ($250-ish – did not observe this tremendous intently).

Hiroshima Accomodations – no estimate ( 32.84 pp – I overlook which lodge, however in honesty, it was a fairly forgettable lodge that smelled like cigarettes though we had picked “non-smoking” and had a really squeaky mattress)

Kagoshima Accomodations – no estimate ($34 pp – APA Lodge Kagoshima Chuo-Ekimae)

Jetfoil Ferry from Kagoshima – Yakushima Roundtrip – ($202pp – free reserving by Sure Yakushima)

Yakushima lodging – 85 pp  (330 complete) ($97 pp for Three nights at Minshuku Iwakawa)

Yakushima Island tour       – 100pp ($136 pp )

Yakushima Anbo River kayaking – 100 pp ($86 pp )

Yakushima bike leases      – 15pp (did not find yourself renting bikes)

Kyoto every day transit           – 70 pp  ($5/day for approx 12 days) (ended up renting bikes for $30 pp + 20 deposit (which they returned to us – we used the bus twice, the remainder of the time was us biking round or utilizing our JR passes to do day journeys)

Kinosaki Onsen ($86 pp for 1 evening within the most cost-effective “good” Ryokan we might discover, Sinonomesou)

Different (souvenirs, necessities, LH’s) – 300pp (ha… my sister managed about $400, I used to be $600, as I ended up getting a tattoo – the fellows did not purchase a lot.)

Tokyo Skyliner + Keisei tickets: $44 pp

Complete per individual minus airplane tickets = $3145

Complete for S & Okay (together with airplane ticket)  – $ 4200ish CAD ea

$3145 divided by 24 is approx $131 per day.

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Reminder:

B = Husband

S = Sister

Okay = Sister’s boyfriend.

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DAY 1 (Tokyo)

(No e mail report, as I used to be too drained).

Flew into Narita, negotiated our technique to the skyliner with out Tooooo a lot issue, and met up with my sister and her BF at Lodge Horidome Villa. Fairly comfortable little enterprise lodge, and we had two adjoining rooms. We had been a bit tall for the beds (B is 5’11” and Okay is 6’1″), nevertheless it wasn’t the tip of the world. My husband might nearly span the room together with his arms. Used the tokyo subway tickets that got here included with our Keisei Skyliner tickets to get round. First expertise of Japanese 7/11 and ended up bringing a complete bag stuffed with snacks again to our lodge room to strive, which we ate whereas watching incomprehensible Japanese TV, then fell asleep

Day 2 (Tokyo) – first e mail

We walked round for almost Eight hours and holy crap, I’m trying ahead to soaking within the tub in our room.  Regardless of the lavatory being so tiny, the bathtub is definitely sufficiently big to accommodate my thighs, Which is greater than might be mentioned for the one again residence! ( I am not a thin individual).

Resulting from jet lag, we fell asleep round 8pm final evening and I awakened at Four am.   B at all times sleeps longer than I do, so I mainly learn for two hours, ready for him to get up.  

Then we went to the fitness center.  Now we have an anytime membership, they usually weren’t kidding. You actually can use it anyplace on this planet. There’s an Anytime health about 6 blocks from our lodge.    We stroll in, and about Four previous Japanese males who had been on the machines simply cease and STARE at us as we walked previous them.

 They attempt to be surreptitious about it, nevertheless it’s a continuing factor.   I make some extent of catching their eyes, they usually shortly look away, then attempt to sneak one other look, after which get embarrassed as a result of I am nonetheless watching them with raised eyebrows.    Me and Okay obtained the worst of it later within the day, as a result of I used to be carrying a pink gown  and Okay has seen tattoos. 

The pink gown factor was a shock, as a result of I had no concept that Japanese folks actually solely put on like 5 colors when out in public right here in Tokyo – black, navy, white, pale blue or beige.   The varsity uniforms are typically one in every of these colors and most males put on black or navy enterprise fits of various formality. 

Actually, each individual we noticed who was carrying a special color turned out to not be Japanese – both we ended up listening to them communicate a special language, or they had been clearly vacationers.    I knew I used to be already going to face out, having pink hair, however this was a bit ridiculous. 

Very first thing within the morning, we went out to a breakfast place that served American meals (“Bubby’s”). Regardless of being marketed as a household restaurant, the mug S drank espresso out of had a caption of “F%*KING FRESH” on it. It took us fairly awhile to search out it and after that, we determined that 7/11 breakfasts had been the way in which to go, each comfort and value smart.

Okay additionally had a hilarious mishap within the morning whereas snapchatting together with his mother, which I’ll copy-paste his personal phrases: 

Observe to self: Watch out of the angles when snapchatting footage of your self in a Japanese gown with a beer. A number of levels can change a photograph from G to 18A. ‪#‎justwantedacoolangle‬ ‪#‎sorrymom‬

After breakfast, we went right down to Shibuya, which is the place the enormous 6 means cross stroll is that you simply usually see in footage of Tokyo.   Since we had been up so ridiculously early, we had missed many of the morning crowds up till this level. However as soon as we hit Shibuya, rush hour was in full swing.  Individuals had been 7-9 rows deep on the metro platforms and it was sea of dudes in enterprise fits.   Individuals did not fairly should be pushed onto the trains by white gloved attendants, nevertheless it was a detailed factor.  

Gaijin perimeter was in full impact although, and other people prevented standing close to us a variety of the time. We wandered round Shibuya for about an hour, venturing off the principle buying avenue into the twisty again alleyways.   At one level, we discovered about 12 love resorts in three blocks.

We additionally discovered what I wish to name “The saddest playground in Tokyo”, that includes PTSD Panda and Mr. Tiger. 

After the massive crowds in Shibuya, I used to be aching for some quiet, so we headed to the Imperial Palace Gardens.  Nonetheless, we made a incorrect flip, and went half means across the grounds within the incorrect path, so we did not get to see the general public gardens (by the point we realized our mistake, we had been strolling for 25 minutes and had been on the reverse finish of the compound)

It wasn’t a loss although, as a result of the outside of the palace grounds remains to be actually cool.   I solely obtained a pair footage of the partitions and guard towers, nevertheless it was eerie how completely manicured all of the vegetation and grass had been.   We would not put it previous the Japanese Imperial family to clip the grass by hand, you already know? It had that form of really feel to it.   We do not know if it was the case, however every part was totally excellent trying.

After the Imperial gardens, we got here again to our lodge room and I handed out for about two hours – it was solely like Three pm, however we might been strolling round since 8am, plus I had performed a run, so my toes had been killing me. 

After my (totally scrumptious and far wanted) nap, we went to the Tokyo Skytree.  We obtained there proper at sundown and it was beautiful.   It was actually loopy to see how far the town prolonged – literaly, buildings so far as the attention might see (it was an overcast day, so the mountains that encompass Tokyo weren’t seen.) 

One factor that stunned me about Tokyo is it is not as dense as I assumed. it might be.  Every part is compact and small, nevertheless it’s uncommon for a constructing to be over 12 tales.  6-Eight tales was extra possible, aside from a number of the authorities buildings and excellent round the principle metro stations. It was extra simply infinite quantities of city sprawl.    

I’ve had Tokyo described to me as a “soiled nice metropolis” and that appears to be the reality – it is simply an enormous metropolis that goes on for miles and miles.   However as a result of the metro system right here is so intensive, you possibly can cross it in like 40 minutes, no downside.  The metro system is tremendous straightforward to get round – I barely bear in mind any of my Japanese classes, however did not actually need them.

Nonetheless, I did make one embarrassing flub – I blended up the phrases for “that is” and “The place is”  – Kore is that is and doko is “the place is” . 

  So I confused a number of station attendants when asking for instructions.   

Think about a foreigner marching as much as you and saying “That is the ginza line!” as a substitute of “The place is the ginza line?”     I requested three station attendants and a police officer this earlier than I found out my mistake they usually all gave me seems to be like I used to be loopy. 

DAY 3 + 4 (Tokyo + Kyoto)

OK, I am awake now (slept 11 hours, jesus christ).   I’ve walked extra within the final three days than I’ve walked in months, good lord.

I forgot to inform you a few humorous a part of the Tokyo Skytree – they’ve a fucking window cleaner musical.   They’ve a efficiency of window cleaners projected onto the home windows, (the actors, fortunately, are NOT exterior the 900 ft tower) the place they sing and clear the home windows in a synchronized trend, then all march onto the ground with a brass band. I want I used to be joking.  I could not perceive a phrase of it although, so I don’t know what they had been singing about precisely. 

After that we went downstairs and explored the mall beneath the skytree for a number of hours – it was truly a variety of enjoyable and we discovered a retailer utterly dedicated to cheese. Finest. cheesecake. I’ve.ever.had.

As for yesterday, we obtained up and and took the Metro out to Shinjuku, the place our pal’s lodge was.  (We had been assembly up with some associates from China)

Bear in mind how for Day 2, I mentioned that we hadn’t fairly gotten to the purpose the place white gloved station attendants had been pushing folks onto trains?  Nicely, I had my first expertise with it yesterday.   The practice was packed, we squeezed on, and about ten folks obtained on behind us.  

There was an ungainly pause as you understand the doorways weren’t going to shut until one thing was performed.   I used to be already half buried below B’s armpit, with my reverse arm and purse buried between two tall (for Japanese) enterprise males, with one other dude glued to my again.  

Then the shove got here and I used to be knocked into the 2 enterprise guys.  I wasn’t even holding onto something.  The crush of individuals held me upright for about 5 stops, which was every kind of no enjoyable, as a result of you possibly can guess on the kind of momentum that the practice drivers should take care of when braking and accelerating with a packed practice like that.  Everybody obtained pushed round and elbows in locations that you don’t need elbows because the practice stopped and began. 

Once we obtained to Shinjuku, it was fairly completely different from the place our lodge was (we’re in Nihonbashi).  Numerous vast avenues and trendy improvement.  The suited Japanese businessmen had been nonetheless all over the place.   Our associates had been staying within the Shinjuku Washington, they usually reported that their lodge room (regardless of being a lot newer) was no greater than ours. 

We wandered round Shinjuku in search of breakfast, and our associates, each being Chinese language, and thus indistinguishable from the Japanese, had been shocked at our Gaijin Perimeter talents.  The crowds parted in entrance of B like sailboats dodging out of the way in which of a tanker, and giving him the identical kind of vast berth, to the purpose the place some folks had been stepping out onto the road.

We discovered a ramen place known as Ichiran which had respectable scores. It was additionally very a lot the kind of place that drunk folks would stumble into throughout their stroll of disgrace.  Every part was designed in order that you may have minimal interplay with different human beings.   

You ordered your ramen from a ticket machine, after which there was 4 bar model rows, every with a bit of cubby that shut you off out of your neighbour (although the cubby partitions could possibly be folded away).  

You pushed the ticket by a small bamboo display and also you had been handed again a desire sheet that you simply ticked off – how spicy, how wealthy, what kind of noodles, what veggies, and also you returned it by the display.  Minutes later, a bowl of ramen ordered to your preferences could be pushed by the display.    You might actually accomplish all of this with out saying a single phrase and the server was by no means seen – At most, you noticed their palms by the display.  Good for anybody with social anxiousness.

After that, we headed out on the JR traces to Tokyo DisneySea.   You heard that proper, DisneySea, not Disneyland.  They’re adjoining park, however the main distinction is that DisneySea serves booze.  Not that we had any (booze was not resistant to Disney costs).  

 On a purely artsy degree, DisneySea was superior – every part was gorgeously and meticulously embellished.   Whereas strolling by “King Triton’s Fort”(versus the Sleeping Magnificence’s citadel that you simply’d discover within the common disney parks), we seen that each single tile in each single mosaic was in actual fact engraved with footage of Ariel, Flounder and Prince Eric.  Not the identical image both – completely different poses and positions.  

 There was an enormous Steampunk flavour to the park too.   Every part was fairly to have a look at and the quantity of element was insane. 

It was crowded although and the rides had been okay. We solely went on about 6 of them, however they had been enjoyable.  Once more, extra simply from the artsy facet of it.  I’d say it was value what we paid, however solely simply barely.   I’ll say this although, when let out from the uniform necessities of black, navy and beige “NormCore” colors (in line with my sister, that is the title that is used for that kind of trend?), Japanese folks appear to have horrible style in clothes.   Numerous blended neons and plaid.  

I additionally obtained a particularly awkward sunburn, as a result of I under-estimated how far the neckline of my gown went down and did not placed on sunscreen that far down.  :/    It itches.  The solar right here doesn’t mess around, we had to purchase 50SPF+++ sunscreen (which is all over the place, thank goodness)

We obtained residence and handed out tremendous fast final evening.  This morning, we awakened early and packed up our room, as a result of we had been heading to Kyoto in the present day. 

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SO, EIGHT HOURS LATER, WE ARE NOW IN KYOTO. 

Kyoto is loopy completely different from Tokyo. 

Huge distinction?   The Japanese business-suited enterprise man has utterly disappeared.   Now there’s folks strolling round in precise kimonos  (We noticed no kimonos in Tokyo. none.)    Oh, and persons are carrying colors. Precise colors. 

We booked out of our lodge round 10am and dragged our suitcases over to Tokyo station, which was round 20 minutes away on foot.  Not unhealthy in any respect, nevertheless it was a scorching day.   Additionally, the financial institution of Japan headquarters seems to be like a fortress and there may be one workplace constructing simply earlier than the station that’s solely lined in roses – we’re speaking a 6 storey constructing. Utterly lined in roses.  It was fairly cool. 

Tokyo station is simply nuts. There are 24 platforms, each native and shinkansen trains.  It’s a white tiled rabbit warren.   B and Okay’s gaijin perimeter was invaluable after we had been speeding by the crowds to catch our practice. 

There was additionally a mall beneath the station, and far of it was dedicated to completely different shops that featured a specific character.   Japan tends to make a cutesy character mascot for every part. Actually every part. 

 Each prefecture, each metropolis, has a personality mascot. A lot of the large firms have them.   A few of them, like Domo-kun have gotten extraordinarily standard. Others, like Snoopy, have been taken, bastardized, after which grown into one thing that bypasses all of their origins.   There have been, after all, shops devoted to those two guys, and several other others as nicely.  My favorite was the Studio Ghibli retailer (clearly).

There was alot of specialised meals locations, of various high quality, together with a standing sushi bar.  

The shinkansen practice was actually new expertise for me. I have been on actually quick trains earlier than – I have been on the TGV trains in France, however I used to be actually too younger to recollect a lot about it.    Nonetheless, Shinkansen bullet trains are fairly ridiculous, in a really cool means. 

First, they’re extraordinarily lengthy – about 16 vehicles.  After all, our reserved seats had been within the final automobile, so we needed to hike down the platforms with our luggage (about 200 m and it was very very crowded). 

They’re organized just about like an airplane, with overhead and below seat storage and related seats and when you truly get going, you do not actually course of how briskly you are going, until the practice passes actually near one thing.     A lot of the surroundings passes very similar to it might in the event you had been in a automobile.  However when one thing handed by at lower than 5 m, it was actually so blurred that you may not distinguish what it was.   A number of trains handed us on the adjoining observe and you may not even distinguish the home windows.  

The Japanese countryside is absolutely neat –  Every part is absolutely dense, after which there’s wild countryside.   They do not actually do “suburbia” within the sense that north america does.  There was very clear demarcations between human habitation, farmland and wilderness, and also you did not see a lot overlap.   The mountains listed here are beautiful, however wayyyy smaller than those again residence.  They appear gentler too, nevertheless it’s exhausting to say, as a result of I do not know what Japanese mountain climbing habits are. 

We glided by mount Fuji too :))

Upon reaching Kyoto, it was a lot hotter and far more informal.  As I discussed earlier, the enterprise fits have disappeared and every part is older and feels extra natural, so to talk. 

The townhouse had been are staying in is extraordinarily previous and has tatami flooring, and we’re sleeping on futons as nicely.  There is a grocery store 1 block away and we had a variety of enjoyable trying to decipher what the hell completely different meals had been.  Generally my skill to learn some Kanji helped, however most of it’s a thriller, as a result of Japan tends to favour cutesy drawings over footage of merchandise on their packaging.    

Additionally, greens and fruit are very very photogenic right here.  Apparently, Japanese persons are prepared to pay some huge cash to eat “excellent” trying meals.  The carrots we purchased had been fats, brilliant orange and completely formed. That was the one choice. Identical goes for each different veggie we might discover. 

We additionally had an excellent awkward second after we found that Japanese supermarkets don’t provide you with luggage.  B and I purchased a basket value of meals, then found that we had no technique to carry it residence simply.  

So we opted for essentially the most ridiculous route, and carried all of it again to the house balanced in our arms.  Individuals had been brazenly smirking at us, however oh nicely. How had been we purported to know?  😛 

Tremendous drained in the present day, so we’re having an evening in.  S, Okay and B have been consuming the tremendous low cost alcohol that you could purchase within the grocery store.  We’ll be going to mattress quickly, as a result of we’re boring like that .

Day 5 (Kyoto)

We rented bikes for commuting round Kyoto. Kyoto is stuffed with contradictions. The locals bike all over the place it appears, besides on the precise designated bike lanes.  However you wouldn’t imagine the glares we get after we ring our little bike bells to get wandering Japanese Obasans (previous ladies) out of our means, as a result of they’re in the midst of the bike path.   There’s additionally indicators all over the place that inform you the place to not park your bikes – solely to have half a dozen bikes parked in entrance of them.

We rode up and down each side of the Kamo river, which is in the midst of Kyoto – and there have been a bunch of hawks and cranes up and down the river.  The hawks had been combating fairly low to the bottom and almost buzzed B at one level.  Afterward, we noticed them steal a sandwich out of a woman’s hand.  She burst into tears and I do not blame her – I labored with birds and that also regarded terrifying.  

I must also observe that it is fucking scorching out. The airbnb we’re renting has 2 bedrooms however solely one of many bedrooms has A/C. So all 4 of us are crammed into one room on futons as a result of the opposite room is sufficient to make anybody soften. We have been utilizing the opposite room as a “dressing room” and conserving all our luggage in there.

Day 6 (Kyoto)

So I’ve an enormous case of motorbike butt proper now. 

As in, I have been on a motorcycle for greater than 20 hours within the final three days, and I’ve a seat formed bruise on my ass.  I want I used to be joking.

Nonetheless by far one of the simplest ways to get round Kyoto (and the most affordable – we solely paid about $45 for a two week rental) however jeez, you pay for it in different methods.  😛 I’ll be sitting humorous for a number of days! 

At this time was a variety of enjoyable – we went out to Arashiyama (Biked to Nijo JR station from our airbnb – about 22 minutes, then used JR cross), which is a district on the far facet of Kyoto from the place we’re staying (we’re in Gion, which is the well-known geisha district – did you ever hear of the guide/film Memoirs of a Geisha? That is the place it is set).   Arashiyama is a beautiful space, with steep mountains and these actually lovely gorges.  It began raining like loopy, so we did not go on the scenic practice like we had been planning to, however we visited the Monkey park, which was a variety of enjoyable.

Japan solely has one species of monkey – the Japanese Macaque.  They don’t seem to be very large – they’d be about knee peak on you, however they’ve pink faces and pink butts.  They’re those you see in footage sitting within the scorching springs!  Those at this explicit park are part of a research group and there is about 130 of them.   The monkey park can also be a 20 minute hike up a mountain, so it has a beautiful view of the whole thing of Kyoto – from the alternative perspective than the one we had at Kiyomizu dera (which I’ll inform you about in a bit). 

We hiked as much as the highest of the mountain, the monkeys had been principally simply laying round and chilling out. Some had been grooming one another, and a variety of the youthful ones had been operating round taking part in. They’re proper underfoot! You were not allowed to the touch them or crouch down to have a look at them (it is a dominance factor apparently) however they had been tremendous chill round people and solely prevented direct contact. 

One of many cool issues you may do up right here was feed them!   Y100 yen obtained you a bag of apples or nuts and you may feed them at a chosen feeding station, the place they will take the meals proper out of your hand. 

 They’d crowd round and I obtained actually fortunate, as a result of the macaque that got here as much as me to take the apples was a mom with a really younger child – he was so tiny, about 7 inches lengthy, and was clinging to her stomach and nursing as she ate the apples.   Utterly lovely. I additionally obtained footage of her letting him wander round and discover later.   

We got here down from the monkey park and principally simply browsed the vacationer retailers, as a result of the climate was so unhealthy and sat within the the lined foot tub at one finish of the excessive avenue.

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Kiyomizu dera is about 35 minutes south of our airbnb by bike, and it was a fairly cool journey till the very finish – we managed a few quarter of the hill on our bikes, then needed to stroll up the remainder of the way in which. The temple up is a slender avenue lined with retailers and there is tour buses all over the place, so strolling ended up being safer. We actually loved wandering across the temple – it was crowded, however not claustrophobic and the view over Kyoto was beautiful. There’s tons of little facet paths and little grottos which can be kind of lurking round the principle temple and pagoda, so you possibly can spend fairly some time simply wandering. We checked out the retailers on the way in which again down the hill and it was tremendous good.

(Kyoto)

We obtained up tremendous early and went to the Aoi Matsuri competition (15 minutes bike journey from our airbnb).  I am not solely positive on the origins for this one (it is one of many oldest ongoing “festivals” in Japan – about 1100 years) nevertheless it’s very sombre.  It is a processional from the Kyoto Imperial palace as much as a temple about three kilometres upriver, and apparently it was initially performed to appease the gods after a sequence of disasters at that time.   All of the costumes are modeled after the Heian period (about 900 years in the past) and everybody carries hollyhock branches and the processional attendants carry an single lady who was chosen as “Saio Dai” by out the procession, mainly a priestess who leads the appeasement rituals. 

Usually, the Saio Dai has to put on 12 layers of robes.  It was about 27 C yesterday. I am stunned she did not soften. It was fascinating to look at from an anthropological standpoint (everybody was carrying sneakers manufactured from reeds) however there was nothing to actually engross the informal observer and we could not perceive the chanting or the loudspeaker bulletins in any respect.  We left after about 40 minutes, as there was valuable little shade.

The funniest factor we noticed was that somebody in a safety guard uniform was mainly answerable for ensuring the processional’s horses peed right into a rubbish bag as a substitute of onto the parade route.

 Afterwards, we biked round a number of of the temples simply north of our house ( a variety of them are world heritage websites, and really lovely, however Kyoto may be very a lot a spot the place there’s a temple on each block, so you need to be choosy in regards to the ones you go to).  They had been all lovely and serene, however there weren’t many variations between them.  

 After that, we biked right down to Kyoto Station to get some ramen from the ramen alley (35 min bike journey straight down the river pathway, then throughout).    Within the station, up on the 10th ground, there’s a part with 12 little ramen retailers, every with a special model of ramen.  S and Okay went to a ramen place elsewhere in Kyoto and ended up getting ramen that was wayyy to spicy for them, in order that they had been in a variety of, ah, discomfort this morning.   We have been taking it straightforward the previous few days, as we’ve not been getting a lot sleep.  The individual we’re renting an house from did not actually give us good futons, so we have been just about laying on the exhausting tatami.  Fortunately, the issue was sorted in the present day and I hope tonight we are able to get a very good sleep!

(Kyoto)

So, since I’ve at all times needed to strive on a kimono, however lacked the funds to get one in every of my very own (they price about $5000 minimal, because of the quantity of embroidery they usually have), we went to a kimono studio.

Most people strolling round Kyoto are carrying yukata as a substitute of kimono.  Most good yukata will nonetheless set you again about $200 although, (however we ended up getting good cotton ones from a cool 2nd hand store in downtown Kyoto – we nonetheless use them as our summer season tub robes). 

So I used to be in search of locations to hire them from (there’s a lot) however I additionally found a spot that may gown one up in a full kimono, in addition to placed on all the normal geisha make-up. My sister needed to do this too, so off we went the day earlier than yesterday.   It is a bit of three story studio a number of blocks south of the place we had been staying, that known as itself the “Maiko Expertise”. Regardless of the nice opinions, I assumed it is perhaps touristy, however the clientele was about 50% Japanese as nicely.   A number of older Japanese women had been within the make up and dressing rooms with us. 

Seems that being belted into a correct kimono is NOT one thing you are able to do your self.  I had some imprecise concepts that you simply wanted assist to do it correctly, nevertheless it’s usually a two or three individual job.   

We had been put into make-up first.  Conventional Maiko make up is the place they paint your pores and skin and neck utterly white (except a small space in the back of your neck, as a result of apparently it is erotic to have a small little bit of pores and skin exhibiting by layers of white paint?)   The white make-up feels just about like paint however they mainly buff you non cease with a powder puff to get it to clean out and canopy every part, together with the whole thing of our lips. 

The attention make-up wasn’t too completely different from what some folks would do – pink/pink shading across the outer eyes and black kohl liner, which exhibits up fairly dramatically in opposition to the white face paint.    What was bizarre to me is that she spent a number of minutes portray my eyebrows pink, then overlaying it with black kohl.    

  The impact was very fascinating although, and one I noticed it correctly after she was completed, I found out what she was going for. It makes for a far deeper and extra refined look than simply placing black would have performed.  Simply black would have made me seem like I had enormous black caterpillar eyebrows.   Including the pink blended the entire thing with the attention make-up and added a variety of depth. Which is a bizarre remark to make about eyebrows.    

The lips had been essentially the most annoying half.  In the event you’ve ever seen footage of conventional geisha make-up, you will discover that they usually solely paint one in every of their lips totally (often the underside) and solely a bit of line or a half performed on the higher.   It’s because in the event you truly painted your whole lips with a white face, you’d find yourself trying like a ridiculous clown. 

I haven’t got Resting Bitch Face or something, however my default expression is certainly not a close-lipped smile, which is what the make up artist required to use the lip paint.   I had bother conserving a detailed lipped smile whereas concentrating on conserving every part else nonetheless and, in her very meek Japanese means, I might inform she was aggravated with me, as a result of each time I targeting conserving nonetheless, my mouth would return to a impartial place.   Both means, it got here out crooked and it induced a flurry among the many hairdressers later once they seen it and swooped in to repair it. 

They do not torture you by doing all your hair within the geisha hairstyles (which had been often anticipated to final for days), in order that they have a half wig that they comb your hair over and paint black. 

After that, you choose what kimono you need to put on (I went with pink, my sister selected blue), and also you get strapped into them. 

I am not even joking, it is like getting trussed up right into a corset.    There’s about three layers of underwear, and whereas my sister had no issues (her form being extra much like the standard Japanese lady), I might inform my boobs had been giving the dressers bother.  Numerous untying and rearranging of padding, earlier than being tugged tight once more.  Apparently they attempt to make you cylindrical formed earlier than they even put the kimono on.   No buttons or something – every part is held in place by cotton cords.   Nonetheless fairly cruel on the respiration although. 

After satisfying themselves with the undergarments  (and they aren’t horny undergarments ) we moved onto the kimono. 

Kimonos are available one normal size, and the dresser folds them as much as match your peak.  So this induced one other downside, as a result of all of the padding they’d put beneath to even me out needed to be rearranged in order that I did not look pregnant once they folded up the kimono layers .   By the tip of it, you’re trussed up so tightly that you’re compelled to have good posture and might’t actually even bend on the waist too good – all bending over is completed with the knees. 

Nonetheless, that is half the pleasure of carrying corsets in any case (your again is compelled to be straight, which alleviates a variety of aches) so it wasn’t that unhealthy. 

We had been taken for a pair studio footage, then given ten minutes to take our ownpictures.  B famous that he barely acknowledged us by the make up and we took a pair humorous pictures (as humorous as you will get together with your motion restricted like that,  whereas carrying okobo sandals (which it’s best to google). They’re as exhausting to steadiness on as they appear.  

After washing off all of the make up (additionally a prolonged course of), we had a fairly quiet day in, as we have now been going full velocity for the final a number of days. 

Yesterday, we went right down to Osaka.  We had been late beginning out, so we did not get to do as a lot as we needed, however we took the shinkansen down and went to the Kaiyukan Aquarium, which was extraordinarily spectacular.  It is a 7 story construction, and all of the tanks are layers in order that as you stroll down by the aquarium, you re-encounter the identical tanks, however at completely different depths.   

 There’s additionally an enormous, 9 m x 34 m x 40m “Pacific Ocean tank” that takes up nearly all of the center of the constructing. It is about Four storeys excessive and really incorporates a whale shark, the one one in captivity.   Half of the walkways have home windows that open out onto this tank, so you may take a look at it from completely different views.  We additionally obtained to look at a number of feedings, although as per traditional, every part is in Japanese, so we don’t know what the trainers are literally saying. 

After the Aquarium, there is a big ferris wheel factor that is 112m tall subsequent to it, so we went on that, which gave us a fairly cool view of the town.   Osaka is far denser than Tokyo, with taller buildings, however unfold over much less of an space.  It had far more of a “crowded soiled metropolis” vibe too.  We would return to take a look at Osaka citadel. 

(Kinosaki Onsen) (days 9-10?)

Good lord, did I ever get massaged into submission.  And never even by something alive. Our lodge room in Kinosaki had a fairly scary however extraordinarily efficient therapeutic massage chair.  Because it, it was so efficient that you simply had to ensure the massaging bits did not push you proper out of the chair earlier than it was completed turning you into mashed potatoes.  It was an impulsive journey – we did not even know Kinosaki onsen existed till we had been in Kyoto a number of days, and determined to spend an in a single day right here – we left our suitcases at our airbnb in kyoto and simply took a small bag every with toiletries and a change of garments. It was value conserving the Kyoto airbnb, as a result of it meant we did not should haul heavy luggage round after we had been exploring.

Additionally, Kinosaki might be the my favorite spot of our trip to date.  Not solely did we have now amazingly snug beds…. there was seven completely different onsens (scorching spring baths) inside strolling distance of our lodge.  

I do know you are a loving connoseur of scorching water, so this place could be heaven for you.  Mainly, this was a city dedicated to multitude of how that you could douse your self in scorching water.  

 Would you like it scorching sufficient to show you right into a tomato? Examine.   Whirlpool jets? test.   Outside scorching swimming pools set below a tumbling waterfall? Examine.   Stone benches to take a seat on with scorching water operating down the backs? test.   Outside scorching swimming pools in rock lined grottos? Examine.  Steam rooms? Examine   Free and limitless entry to seven onsens that provide these diversions? test.   (usually, your onsen charges are included in your lodge price). 

Plus, the resorts give you yukata (gentle kimono) to put on whereas wandering across the village, and you’ll transfer freely between onsen whereas they’re open.  It is extraordinarily snug and makes everybody look vibrant. 

We had a variety of enjoyable with it, and like all Japanese bathhouses, nudity is a given.   Apart from that, my sister and I obtained stared at quite a bit there (kind of like the way it was in Tokyo – a number of facet eye and awkward trying away after I caught their eye).    One of the best instance was once they began laughing at one thing I did by chance. 

A little bit of background – once you go into the showering space within the onsen, you are solely allowed to deliver one teeny towel to “cool” your self with. You are additionally not supposed to go away it laying round, so most individuals simply fold it up….and set it on high of their heads.  There’s variations after all, however usually, it is simply sitting there. 

Not getting used to this, I’d often overlook it was there and drop it within the water every time I tilted my head.    After this taking place thrice, I’ve lastly managed to maintain the attention of keeeping my head degree right down to a science.  Then I began sneezing randomly whereas sitting on the facet of the tub.  violent enormous AHHHCHOOOS.  Shit, there goes my towel!  I snatch for it, fumble, and handle to catch it simply earlier than it hits the water.  The entire women within the tub burst out laughing.    They don’t seem to be laughing at me maliciously  (it did look fairly humorous)  …. however I used to be in a nook, not likely in the midst of something.  They had been all watching in any case!

Okay and B had a really completely different expertise – mainly any tub they sat in, all {the japanese} guys obtained up and moved to the opposite tub.

See half 2 beneath

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