From Australia we flew to Japan, which was a very big shock in terms of weather—hot Australia to cold Japan. In Japan we stayed for over two weeks and visited three main cities: Tokyo, the capital and largest city in Japan; Kyoto, the previous capital of Japan, known for lots of ancient temples; and Osaka, known for cherry blossoms and great food.
From Cairns, Australia, we took a 8 hour flight to Tokyo. We arrived in Tokyo late at night. It was cold, rainy and wet. When we got out of the airport, we followed very hard to follow directions. Our first stop was Shinjuku, a district in Tokyo, where we stayed for 3 days. Once we finally got to our apartment, we were very, very cold and just wanted to go to bed. Since we haven’t had dinner yet, my dad went to a convenience store to get instant noodles. All the nearby restaurants were closed because it was so late. The apartment we were staying at was very, very small. When you walked inside there was a narrow hallway. On the left there was a bathroom and on the right there was kitchen. At the end of the hallways was a room with two beds and some drawers. So that’s basically our apartment in Shinjuku!!!
All the places we stayed in Japan had pocket wifi. Pocket wifi is basically a portable wifi device, so basically you can have wifi wherever you go.
While in Shinjuku we went to this amazing ramen noodle place. Now I’ll tell you how the ramen restaurant works. First you go to a vending machine and press the button beside the picture of the item you want to order. After, you pay for your meal through the vending machine. Then, you get a ticket per item purchased. While you wait for a table you hand the staff your tickets and they hand you a form. The form allows you to customize your bowl of ramen. On the form you can select the amount of garlic, firmness of noodles, strength of broth, white/green/both onions, and the amount of chilli spice. You can also add a refill of noodles or broth or if you’d like to add an egg to your dish. Once you complete your form, you go to a table that’s an individual booth with just enough room for one person. Each booth has separating walls on each side with your own personal water tap to fill up your cup whenever you please. In front there’s a bamboo flap, that the waiters open up to serve you your meal. When my bowl of soup came, I tasted it and it was so, so, so amazing. Even thought it was hot, I couldn’t stop eating it. Best ramen noodle soup I’ve ever had!!!!!
Our next stop in Japan was another district in Tokyo called Ginza. It was really cold and we didn’t have warm clothes, so we went shopping at Uniqlo and bought warm sweaters and jackets.
I forgot to tell you, in Japan they have really cool toilets. All of the apartments where we stayed had toilets with seat warmers and this thing that comes out and sprays your butt after you use the toilet. Public washrooms also have these features, including a button you press that makes a flushing toilet sound to cover up the splash of your (TURD).
From Tokyo to Kyoto we took the Shinkansen bullet train. Our train ride was just 2 hours. The regular train takes 9 hours!
Our second day in Kyoto we took a walking tour around the city. Along the way to learned a lot of interesting facts about Japanese culture. In Japan they bow a lot. A 15 degrees bow is a casual bow for a welcome, thank you or greeting. A 45 degrees bow is a more formal bow used when greeting your elders or important people.
In Kyoto we also visited a shrine called Fushimi Inari-taisha. The shrine is the most popular shrine in all of Japan. If you’re wondering what a shrine is, I’m going to tell you right now. A shrine is a monument for the Japanese Shinto religion. Like a temple is a monument for Buddhist religion. You can tell the difference between a shrine and a temple by the special Japanese gates in front of the shrine. The special gates are called tori gates. You can find a picture of the shine in the slider above.
In Japan there use to be lots of Geisha districts, but now there’s only one and it’s in Kyoto called the Ginsa district. There aren’t more Geisha districts because most Japanese no longer want to be Geishas because it’s hard work and lots of rules. Geishas aren’t allowed to use a phone or get married. In the streets of Kyoto there are lots of people taking photos of fake Geishas. A fake Geisha is basically a tourist (mostly Chinese) dressed up like a Geisha. The giveaway they’re not real is they have a phone and are probably taking selfies of themselves.
After Kyoto we went to Osaka for 5 days. Osaka is the second largest city in Japan and is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms. One day we went to have a picnic by the cherry blossoms. We biked with the bikes our apartment provided and got a picnic lunch and sat by the river. It was really amazing with thousands of rows of cherry blossoms surrounding us.
At first we were afraid the cherry blossoms wouldn’t bloom in time before we left Japan, but thankfully they were a peak bloom! The cherry blossoms were so pretty that we had to have another picnic. This time we brought a mat (aka our bed sheet) so it would be more comfortable. Unfortunately, one of our bike tires popped along the way, so we had to walk our bike the rest of the way. After that we had a nice relaxing picnic.
While in Osaka we also visited the famous Osaka Aquarium. The aquarium is one of the largest public aquariums in the world. In one of the tanks is a Whale Shark. The Whale Shark is huge and the tank it’s in holds 5,400 tons of water. The Whale Shark is the largest fish species in the world and can grow as large as a school bus. After visiting the aquarium, I made my own little aquarium to take home. Basically it was a glass cup filled with little glass sea creatures, then filled with gel and a light that lights the aquarium in different colours.
During our 2 weeks stay in Japan, I learned a lot about Japanese traditions and that being a Geisha is not only about looking pretty (it’s a lot of work!). Japan is futuristic country that also has so much ancient history. I had an amazing time in Japan, from seeing the magnificent cherry blossoms to meeting the giant Whale Shark in the Osaka Aquarium. Next we travel to Italy. Hello pasta, here we come!