Hello friends! As some of you may already know, Charlie and I just got back from a 10-day trip to Japan. It ruled. Japan has a lot going for it. I'm gonna post a deluge of photos here and talk about/make some lists of the highlights of our trip along the way. Let's just dive in!
We spent the first part of our trip in Tokyo. Tokyo is overwhelming and at the same time the most efficient city I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. It's easy to get anywhere and the train system while complex is shockingly simple to use. We had a list of things we wanted to do while in Tokyo. Here's a list of a few of my favorite Tokyo spots we went to:
- Parklet Tokyo: This place was cute as hell and had maybe my favorite blueberry muffin of all time. We went three times and I bought a hat with their logo on it.
- Ghibli Museum: I've been a Ghibli fan since I saw Spirited Away in 6th grade so I was extremely excited to go here. Nothing is written in Japanese and you aren't allowed to use your phone inside so you can't easily translate anything. It didn't matter though as we still had a great time and spent a solid 2.5 hours in there looking at everything / buying shit. A must-do for cinema/ghibli fans.
- Kappabashi Dougu Street: This street was fun. It's all kitchenware supplies for multiple blocks. You can buy a 100 yen bowl or a 100,000 yen knife and everything in between. Charlie bought a knife that has his name engraved in katakana on it. It was his favorite purchase of the trip.
- Onibus Coffee Nakameguro: The coffee shop in Nakameguro had an upstairs area that overlooked the train tracks so you could just sit up there and watch trains go by. It was amazing and I'd go there all the time if I lived in Tokyo.
- Traveler's Factory Nakameguro: This is a pretty famous notebook store. I love these notebooks and they're a lot cheaper in Japan since the yen is weak as of this writing. We went to the Tokyo and Kyoto locations while in Japan and bought a bunch of stuff.
We did take a day trip from Tokyo down to Kamakura/Enoshima on our last Tokyo day. It was swelteringly humid and hot but it was still a fun time. There's a very quaint train ride along the ocean between the two towns which was my favorite part of the day.
The second/third half of our trip was spent in the Kyoto prefecture. From Tokyo we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. The train fucking rules. Riding it was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
We weren't in Kyoto very long because we headed straight to the car rental to then drive an hour out to Wazuka. The drive was harrowing, to say the least. Charlie drove the car and I navigated but we still missed multiple exits due to confusion and stress though we eventually made it to our destination in one piece. We spent a night out there at d:Matcha, a green tea farm. I watched a mini documentary about this place during the pandemic and knew I wanted to check it out when we finally made it to Japan. It was lovely. A highlight of our trip for sure. We got to stay in an old traditional house that had been restored, had 2 amazing meals, and went on a tour of the farm. Daiki (the owner) is super passionate about what he does. It was cool to see. Charlie bought a bunch of tea stuff.
After a lovely 24ish hours in the country, we headed back to Kyoto. It rained hard on the drive back which added to the stress factor but it was beautiful nonetheless. We got the car back to the rental and vowed to never again drive in Japan. The remainder of our trip was spent in Kyoto and Osaka. I loved the architectural style of Kyoto and still think it was my favorite place we went to (even if it's mostly tourism with a lot of temples). Here's a list of standouts:
- Tiger Gyoza (Kyoto): This place slapped. We ate lunch here twice. I got the "banana-shaped" gyoza with rice. I'm still thinking about it. Charlie had some kind of curry dish with tofu that was just as good if not better.
- Teppanyaki Okonomiyaki Mizuki (Osaka): This was our favorite meal the entire trip. Their okonomiyaki was OUT OF THIS WORLD DELICIOUS. Charlie also ordered the fried noodles which were delicious. We took an hour-and-a-half train ride to Osaka the last night just to eat here one last time.
- Dungaree (Osaka): This is a gay bar in Osaka. It seats about 10 people total and their whole thing is that they want folks to talk to each other and meet new people. It's cozy and quiet and everyone was super friendly to us even though initially we were the only foreigners in there. I wish there was a gay bar like this in Portland.
- Kyoto Railway Museum (Kyoto): This museum was fun. There's not a lot written in English but they had a super hokey "show" with model trains and what seemed to be some kind of story being told over the speakers in Japanese. The people in there were losing their minds over it. It was kind of hilarious. Lots of clapping and ooo-ing. The cafe overlooks the JR rail tracks and that was cool.
- Giōji Temple (Kyoto): This was a quaint temple covered in moss. We wandered over here while walking around a random neighborhood near the famed bamboo forest.
- Le Petit Mec Oike (Kyoto): Little French bakery in Kyoto. I ate some kind of bun with what tasted like espresso frosting on it. It was killer.
- Ace Hotel (Kyoto): We stayed here in Kyoto and it was the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in. Got a killer deal through some random hotel website called Agoda. They have a Stumptown coffee in the lobby which is funny but also necessary since bakeries and coffee shops open at like 11 AM in Japan.
Japan was great. We had a wonderful time and made good memories. You should check it out sometime.