A few of the highlights from Japan:
- Visited the world's biggest fish market and Tuna auction
- Walked across Japans busiest intersection
- Found our way through Japans biggest and busiest train station
- Had a naked public bath
- Explored Japan on one of the worlds fastest trains - The Shinkansen
- Visited the world's best Aquarium
- Had a view from the top of the worlds 2nd tallest Ferris wheel
- Ate tonnes of raw fish and delicious raw horse meat
- Wore a Kimono
- Met a giant panda
- Climbed around the bottom of Mt Fuji
- Won 3 Teddy bears in one of many game arcades
- Had a double date at Osaka's 10 million dollar view lookout
- Stayed with and became friends with some of Japans nicest people
We arrived into Tokyo airport at 10.30pm. Our plan was to make it to Shinjuku station before the trains stopped for the night. This is where our new host Naomi was going to meet us. By the time we got through customs and collected our baggage, it was 11.30pm. We Managed to catch the last train out of the station. The wrong way. So at 12.30 we arrived at Shinjuku station but Naomi was nowhere to be seen. We figured she had gone home to sleep so we found a nice taxi driver rang naomi for us and delivered us to her home by 1am.
Tokyo was an amazing place with an endless amount of things to see and do! We started off by exploring the Shinjuku area which was full of people, big screen tv's, sky scrapers and entertainment - Just like the movies. We were able to see the rest of tokyo by visiting the top level of one of the high rises here. We ate Japanese noodles, rice, sushi, and plenty or raw fish every day. Because Naomi didn't have a shower in her apartment, she and her boyfriend took us to a naked public bath and showed us how to wash. Japanese style! Inside the public bath there are several shower heads on the wall about 1 metre high. You have a small stool where you sit down under the shower to wash. Once clean you can jump on into the bath. I lasted 2 seconds in the bath because it was around 55degrees and far too hot for me. We scrubbed ourselves clean pretty quickly and walked out giggling. This was our first and last naked experience.
The next morning we rose at 3.15am to go and line up for tickets to enter the Tuna auction at the worlds largest fish market which apparently is a must see for any fish lover. AKA William. The market itself was crazy busy with forklifts transporting all the fish into the warehouses. The Auction was basic and all in Japanese but we were still happy to watch, overwhelmed by the size of the Giant tuna. We finished off our morning with fresh sushi for breakfast and a visit to shopping central. Shibiaya was our last stop in Tokyo and is where we crossed the Massive five way intersection - The busiest in Japan.
We made a quick overnight trip to Lake Kawaguchiko at the bottom of Mt Fuji where we had a great view of the mountain through a few clouds. We stayed in a hostel with a full kitchen so we were able to cook our dinner here and eat on a table with an attached duvet, and a heater underneath it warming up your legs. Mmmmmmmmm. It was so beautiful here, such a peaceful town.
After enjoying another quick Shinkansen trip, we made it to Nagano. Our new friend Mayumi picked us up from the train station and showed us around the city centre. This town is known for its famous mountains and ski fields. Because we didn't go in winter there wasn't too much snow but we drove right up into the mountains to visit the local communities and check out the Japanese Onsens. (Hot spring) We had dinner at a local restaurant where we tried several dishes including raw horse meat. This was scary at first but just tasted like beef. Poor horse! We visited a shrine in the mountains and went through a ninja house maze where william became a professional ninja star thrower. He won a prize for hitting 5 out of 7 targets!Later that night we rested up before going to Mayumi's apartment for dinner. She had set up 2 hot plates on a small table. On these hot plates she had small cupcake trays. We all sat around and made takoyaki with octopus. This was absolutely delicious and so much fun to cook. We tried Sake with our dinner which is a traditional japanese alcohol. It tasted like a potent wine. - not so good! we really enjoyed the girls company in Nagano but we only stayed here for two nights before heading to Kyoto.
We caught the bullet train back to Tokyo and then onto Kyoto. We arrived here and found a very popular sushi train for dinner. We filled our tummys here before hitting the big screen movie theatre to see the new Men in black 3! Kyoto has countless temples, shrines and other historical structures but we only managed to make it to 1, the Nijo castle which was built in 1603. It was amazingly big and surrounded by traditional japanese gardens and Brick walls. Our second day in Kyoto we went to see a local food market and to Kyoto Zoo. The zoo wasnt very big but had plenty to see. Lions, tigers and bears.. etc.
Next stop was Hiroshima. This city is known for when the first atomic bomb was dropped on August 6th, 1945. the power of the bomb was tremendous and destroyed nearly everything within a two kilmeter radius. We visited the peace memorial museum to gather some history and walked around the park to see the childrens memorials and the A-bomb dome. Overall it was very sad but so interesting to see the cities history. Later that night we went to watch a baseball game at the mazda stadium. We didn't realise that baseball was such a big sport in Japan but the stadium was almost full and the atmosphere was fantastic! During the game there are waitresses walking around with 15L kegs on their backs offering beer to everyone. It was a bit pricey but a great service! Hirsoshima won the game against Kyoto which was a great end to the night!
We caught the Shinkansen to Fukuoka to visit williams high school friend Yumiko and her baby boy Sena. We met her at the train station and got a tour around the city and went for a walk to the beach. For lunch we went to a flash and very low lit restaurant where we ate a mixture of japanese delicasies and green tea ice cream for dessert. The city was small but we still found plenty of activities to do. We even got a portrait done by a nice japanese artist at a shopping mall. For dinner Yumiko took us to her husbands sushi restaurant where we sat and watched the chefs prepare the sushi. We ate 1 of everything on the menu. Yumiko arranged a bed for us at a Japanese Hotel for the night. As part of the room we were given entry into the hot spring baths and we layed on hot rocks similar in a room similar to a steam room. After our bath we dressed in Kimono's before bed. We both looked rediculous but was all part of the experience!
Osaka and Kobe were our last stops in Japan. They are close together and we went between the two quite easily with our rail pass. In Osaka we went to see the Aquarium where they usually have 2 whale sharks. The aquarium was amazing but unfortunately they had sent the whale sharks away for a while. After the aquarium we went on the worlds second tallest ferris wheel after the London Eye. It was a clear day so we were able to see most of the city. We went to stay in Kobe with Megumi. She lives in a small flash apartment in the city. We met up with a few of her friends and went to a restaurant for dinner and drinks. We all ordered several dishes and shared them around between us. Our second day in Kobe William and I went to see the Pandas at Kobe zoo. There are only two zoos in Japan with pandas so william was very excited and we were very lucky to see them. Kobe zoo only had 1 panda but it was still so adorable. Our last night in Japan we went up to the Million dollar view which is a 1000m high lookout over Osaka and Kobe. It was so high and you could see for miles over the city.
We caught the train to the airport and flew out to London via Shanghai!