A day in Kyoto – Shrine visits

Greetings from 34000 feet above above the Pacific Ocean! Please excuse the poor quality of the picture, the built in camera on my netbook can only do so much in such low light!

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It has been an awesome trip culminating in an eventful side trip into Kyoto. With Saturday being the only full day we had in the historic capital of Japan, we set to work visiting several shrines in the area. Our first stop was the Fushimi Inari shrine, which is most famous for it’s numerous gates along the walkway built into the mountain.

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Since schools are in session on Saturday in Japan, we ran into several large groups of students out on school trips. The main street leading up to the main entrance was crowded with locals and students. Compared to some of the other places we visited that day, there were far fewer tourists in the area. First though, a quick stop for some breakfast at a small restaurant along the way.

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Saying goodbye to Japan

It is another beautiful day in Kyoto, but sadly I won’t be enjoying it fully today. It’s time for me to take the Shinkansen back to Tokyo and bid farewell to Japan. It has been an awesome week, with all sorts of great experiences and stories. I still have some more content to put together from yesterday’s walk around Kyoto, though that’ll probably wait until I get back to the United States. Before signing off, here’s a look at what I’m having for breakfast today. Cream filled melonpan, tea, and some roasted beans from Fushimi Inari Shrine.

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Thank you Tokyo and Kyoto for all the great memories, hopefully we’ll cross paths again in the future!

Kyoto Day 1 – Traveling to Kyoto

This afternoon we left Tokyo behind and jumped on the Shinkansen for Kyoto. It had been a great week in the biggest cities in Japan with a lot of sightseeing and shopping, but it was finally time for some R&R.

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It would be about two and a half hours by train to go from Tokyo station to Kyoto station, which is pretty impressive considering the 300+ mile distance between the two cities. We got to the station a little early, so we ended up looking around for food and generally taking it easy. Eventually, the train did arrive and we got on. This is my first time on the Shinkansen, so I was pretty excited and grabbed a window seat.

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Tokyo Day 7 – Washinomiya Shrine

Weather in Tokyo yesterday was probably the best it’s been all week, with sunny skies, mild temperatures, and low humidity. It was the perfect day for taking the train out to Saitama for a shrine visit. Today however, it doesn’t look like we’re so lucky. One again, the commuters in Shinjuku have their rain protection employed.

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Fortunately for us, we’ll be on the Shinkansen bound for Kyoto for the first half of the day. Yesterday was very eventful, starting out with going to Washinomiya Shrine in Saitama, making a quick stop in Ueno on the way back, and then finally Ginza for Kabuki theater and shopping. Before leaving Ginza, we stopped in a bakery for some sweets.

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This particular melonpan was filled with some sort of melon flavored custard, which (according to Shana) borders in blasphemy. I, on the other hand, think it’s quite delicious and want to figure out how to make it. Umai-ki!

Enough about today’s breakfast, it’s time to talk about yesterday’s main event: Washinomiya Shrine in Saitama.

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Tokyo Day 6 – Ghibli Museum in Mitaka

It looks like it’ll be another cool and cloudy day in Tokyo today. There wasn’t any sign of rain when I woke up this morning, so hopefully it’ll be a dry day for our excursion into Saitama.

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Breakfast this morning consisted of a choco coronet that I bought yesterday in Nakano along with some coffee in a can from the vending machine. Jiji decided to join me as well this morning and he enjoyed looking out the window at the commuters going to and from the train station.

Speaking of Jiji, he decided to come home with me after I saw him at the gift shop at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. It was a bit of a journey to get out there, but it was well worth it.

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Tokyo day 4 – Tokyo Tower and shopping in Akihabara

In a slight departure from normal, this will be a light update. Not as much photography this year, although there may be a Photosynth coming in a couple days. We got a relatively early start this morning (left around 10am) to go see Tokyo Tower. Since it is scheduled to be replaced in a few years, we decided now was as good as time as any go up and visit it.IMG_5686 After seeing it blown up in so many different anime, it was nice to finally visit this landmark and see it in person. There was a bit of a haze today so visibility was limited.

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Tokyo day 3 – Harajuku and Shibuya

It’s another beautiful day in Tokyo! After yesterday’s entry, I went out for a walk to take some photos around the hotel. What resulted is a beautiful 314 photo Photosynth set of the plaza outside of Shinjuku station…

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It was off to have a quick lunch at the station and then off to the Harajuku area. It’s known as one of the trendier districts in Tokyo and is full of boutiques, clothing shops, and some of the most interesting fashion I’ve ever seen. Sundays are typically the day when the younger folk get dressed up and go hang out in the streets. Cosplayers are no exception here, and they typically hang out on the bridge next to the station…

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Tokyo day 2 – Tokyo Game Show

Good morning from Shinjuku! I’m happy to report that the jet lag is slowly going away, and I slept most of the way through 6am this morning after going to bed around 10pm. After a quick run to the convenience store for some breakfast items (I had no idea what I bought, to be honest), I’m ready to do a quick rundown of yesterday’s events!

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Yes, that is Saber Lily, more on her later. ^.^

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Traveling to Tokyo

It’s now the start of my first full day in Tokyo. The jet lag is a bit hard to deal with (13 hour time difference between here and Charlotte), though I did try to force the adjustment by staying up for most of the 26ish hours it took to fly to Japan, get to the hotel, and have some dinner. Still, after going to be around midnight JST, I managed to get about 5 hours of sleep.

The passing time on the flight from Minneapolis to Narita was much easier since I chose to fly first class. Any seasoned traveler will know that First Class means super comfortable seats, in-seat entertainment systems, decent food, and all the drinks I want. That last item in particular made the flight very enjoyable. 🙂

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Yes, I know… I’m a drunk 🙂

The flight in wasn’t actually too bad despite it being long. The flight landed in Narita around 17:20 JST. Following landing, I breezed through the quarantine checkpoint (didn’t appear to be active), passport control, baggage claim, and then customs.

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After meeting up with Eric, it was time to convert some money over and take the bus into central Tokyo. The ride itself took over an hour due to large amount of traffic in the city. By the time we hit the hotel, we were pretty tired and hungry. This meant going out and finding something to eat…

Our hotel is right across from a Tokyu Hands department store, which has a huge selection of restaurants. We settled on a tempura restaurant, which had some pretty good food.

IMAG0120After dinner, I was pretty much ready to pass out. I’d been up for most of the last 26 hours and was in desperate need of sleep. A quick shower was in order and then some channel surfing on the hotel TV. We stumbled upon what appeared to be the Bandai channel, which was showing all sorts of ads and reairing some older anime (including Mai-HiME).

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I managed to snap some pictures in the wee hours of the morning after I woke up at 5am JST. This jetlag is going to stay with me for at least another day, I suspect. I’ll need to struggle through the later parts of today and try to get myself on a good schedule. Fortunately, today is all about Tokyo Game Show, so I’ll probably be pretty wired.

More pictures and updates to come later on in the week!