Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Sample of Japan

...And we're back! From a totally fantastic trip over the East Sea to the Land of the Rising Sun.  Japan was awesome.  Since we were only there for about 3.5 days, it's hard to say we've experienced the country fully, rather it was a sampling of the culture, the food, the people--and it left me definitely wanting more.  I really want to go back to Japan someday, but next time for a longer stay.  We flew into KIX (Kansai International Airport) and divided our time between Kyoto, considered to be the cultural capital of Japan, and Osaka, the hyper-active younger brother of Tokyo.  I'll write some tips and logistical information in the next post, but for now, photos!  

Warning:  It was really hard picking which pictures to show, so just keep scrolling down^^.

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Our first night in little Kyoto.  The taxis were so cute, with hearts on top.

The next morning DH & I went for a walk and stumbled across this shrine.  

Those papers hanging behind the lantern are wishes and fortunes for the new year.

Breakfast was rice balls and sushi from the convenience store.

Japanese monk taking a stroll without socks in a frigid January.

The famous Fushimi Inari Shrine.  Amazingly, no people in the way.

With Tae, our lovely friend from Nagoya who came to visit us for the day.  THANK YOU TAE!!!

The toori gates are all different sizes and can be purchased by giving donations of varying (large) amounts.  The black writing on the sides are the names of the donators.

A delicious meal: curry udon and donkatsu and egg. Yuuuuuum.
More udon & two happy campers in Japan.

She was everywhere. 

Whole shops dedicated to Hello Kitty, or as Tae calls her, Kitty-chan.
Tae teaching the "V" for victory sign to David.

So many odd and cute things to be found everywhere.

As seen in Gion, the area most famous for it's Geisha and Maikos.

Devils and beans.  Each year on February 3rd, Japanese put on devil masks and the kids can throw these beans at them to ward away evil spirits. 

Kyoto Tower at night from the JR Kyoto Station.

Our much anticipated matcha green tea and a really delicious sweet which we saw everywhere in Kyoto.

Kinkaguji Temple, the Golden Pavilion.  What a beauty!
Up close and personal.  There is a large reflecting pool on the top floor.

A stroll through the Nishiki market to taste lots of different Japanese foods.
Octopus on a stick with quail eggs inside, 300 Yen each.

These were so delicious!!!

DH going for grilled squid on a stick.

I heard a lot about these 100 Yen shops, like US Dollar Stores, and was happy to finally find one to explore.

On our way to Kiyomizudera Temple.  One of the most popular tourist destinations in Kyoto.

Cute chopstick holders.

 Japan is a colorful place.

Working hard for a yen.  These guys could be seen around the city pulling tourists up hills in these carts.

More interesting oddities.

Totoro, a childhood friend of the Japanese children.

Selling more of those sweet mochi pockets with different fillings inside.

A view of Kyoto from the top.

There are fountains in front of the temples to wash your hands before entering.

Beautiful Japanese ladies in Kimono.  They were kind enough to allow me to take a picture.

The Love Stone.  According to legend, if you can walk from one stone to the other with your eyes closed, you will find true love.  I made it!!!  With a little help from DH.^^
Osaka Castle.  Quite a sight to behold, unfortunately it was COLD so we didn't stick around too long.

The Osaka Aquarium, second largest in the world with a focus on sea animals in the Pacific Ring of Fire.
At the port of Osaka being blown away by strong winds.

A large ferris wheel, adding color to a very blue sky.
Takoyaki, or fried octopus balls, keychains.

Real takoyaki in Osaka.

A crazy colorful street in Dotunburi area.

So many good restaurants and so many people.

Many shops had large animals/creatures like this one calling attention to their shops.

A pedestrian only sign with a cute little Japanese girl.

Our final meal in Osaka.  Yakisoba and a delicious Waikoiyaki (?)--not sure the exact name but it was SO DELICIOUS. 

A view from our train on the way back to the airport.

The end of our journey, back to KIX with our ICOCA (like T-Money) cards.  Japan--Endless Discovery.
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