Guys, Japan was amazing! I had such a different experience of it than I had imagined and I honestly can’t wait to plan a return trip. The roughest part of the journey was definitely the 14 hour direct flight. I might pick a flight with a break in it on the west coast, next time.
Once we did arrive in Japan, the train experience was comfortable, convenient, and clearly communicated. Also it was on time – like on the second. How amazing!
This was my view outside the train into the Tokyo Suburbs as we headed to Kyoto.
We settled into our awesome rental – a nice 3 bedroom apartment in Kyoto and surprisingly didn’t have much jet lag for the next day. My guess is the fact that we stayed up for like 26 hours straight didn’t hurt when it came to sleeping the whole night. Here are a few photos from our walk in the morning to our first stop.
Our first stop was supposed to be Nishiki Market but we got there a wee bit too early. Not much is up and fully running by 8:15 am anywhere in Japan. We decided to use the extra time to check out a cute local park. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom! Our first exposure to the phenomenon in Japan! Also Jeremy got to enjoy the benches made entirely for cracking one’s back.
We eventually meandered back to Nishiki Market where there were endless stores of all sorts of goods – from interesting eats to local artisan goods. We tried a few things and bought a few things. I could probably spend another entire day in there!
After getting our fill of steaming eats and stain glassed tinted streets we headed out and walked along the Takase River. Cafes, small restaurants, hostels and little bridges that crossed back and forth made for some picturesque viewing. The sakura were still in bloom with a beautiful canopy of whites and pinks.
We took a few side streets until we found ourselves at a much bigger river – the Kamo River! It’s wide and shallow, lined with plenty of walking paths. Many varieties of sakura bloomed alongside all sorts of other flowers!
Vending Machines & Ramen Miyako
We then made our way to get some Ramen at Ramen Miyako, stopping at a gachapon shop to blow some yen on toy gambling. It was a blast.
The Heian Shrine
Our ultimate destination was to see the cherry blossoms blooming atop the higher parts of Kyoto but the walk there had some amazing stops – the first being Heian Shrine. Bright red-orange pillars shone beneath a beautiful blue sky.
The Philosophers’ Path
At this point we are running on pure “we are in Japan!” adrenaline because we have already done so much this day and are now choosing to climb and walk a fair hike to the Philosopher’s path. The path itself follows a canal and is flanked by beautiful cherry trees througout. All ages are seen with their necks arched back enjoying the petal fall and the bright sunlight.
Sento Imperial Palace Grounds
We finished off the day by walking through the imperial palace grounds where I met adorable palace kitties that enjoyed being pet and facetimed my dad. Our first day in Japan was everything and SO MUCH MORE than I ever expected. I loved every minute!