Now that I've finally sorted though all the photos from my adventures in Japan (you can see them all on my Flickr), I thought it time to share some stories of my travels.
It's incredibly hard to pick what to write here, because I've so many wonderful memories of my trip and I don't really want to leave anything out, but I also realise that were I to tell every single story, it'd take for ever and ever! So, what follows is an abridged version of it all, and if you're interested in reading more, just click into my Flickr, I've tried to type everything out under the photos there.
We, that is I and my traveling companion Jenny, left Finland behind on the evening of the 7th, and landed in Japan the morning of the 8th, after a very long flight that was much too slow for how excited we were to finally arrive. Still feeling mussed and muddled from the flight, we none the less managed to get our Rail Passes (which were the best thing ever!) and hop on the train from Kansai Airport to Shin-Osaka, where we met up with our gracious guide and friend Aliisa and had a quick bite to eat before we headed off to Tokyo.
We spent four wonderful, busy days in Tokyo, enjoying nice weather and having a really super time in the bustling city... although the great city doesn't look quite as crowded and hectic in my photos, because we arrived in Japan outside of any tourist seasons and just as work and schools had started back up again after the holidays.
While in Tokyo, we stayed at a great ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) that was at the end of a little street lined with vending machines near the Shin-Okubo station. We slept three a-breast on futons that we'd roll out in the evening and then roll up in the morning and put the table back in their place for the day. We had our own bathroom and toilet, and even a telly to watch completely mystifying Japanese television programs on.
I got over any jet lag and sleep rhythm weirdness pretty quickly, since flying towards Japan allowed us to fall asleep (or as asleep as it is possible to get on a plane) in the evening and wake up in the morning, making zipping through so many time zones seem more natural. We still tended to get up early in the morning, so as to make the most of our time and get lots done during the day.
On our first full day in Tokyo, we hopped onto the Ghibli-bus and went to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.
Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed inside the museum, which was a real shame because it was absolutely brilliant inside! Every little thing was delightful and perfectly thought out, and it was a really super place to visit. They even had a special exhibition of illustrations from Andrew Lang's fairytale books, which was super awesome for a fairytale fan like me.
After a super enjoyable day at Ghibli, we hopped back onto the Ghibli-bus and headed back into the city to explore Shibuya, Shinjuku and Harajuku, and to shop a bit while there too! We did a whole lot of shopping and eating in Tokyo; I don't think I've ever in my life shopped so much and eaten so well as I did while in Japan! :)
On our second day in Tokyo, we met up with Tomomi, a friend of Jenny's, and then we went to Tokyo Tower.
To me, Tokyo Tower is the landmark of Tokyo, much like Effel Tower is for Paris or Big Ben is for London. It's been in many of the anime series, drama series and movies I've seen, and so it was really great to get to see it in person.
The view from the top of the tower was really phenomenal! You could see all of Tokyo spread out under you feet, and see how breathtakingly vast the city really is.
After spending the morning admiring the views from Tokyo Tower, we then headed off to Heaven, or Nippori's Textile Town as most other people know it as. :)
We only managed to really visit one shop while there, but then again, that shop was Tomato, a huge 5-story store that sells pretty much every kind of fabric you can think of, in addition to sewing notions and other such bits and bobs. We spent the rest of the day there, along with a good bit of our money as well. :)
I'll be splitting my travel diary into a few parts, since obviously it's quite impossible to scrunch everything into one post and still keep it at a reasonable length. Next up, I think I'll chronicle our visit to Kakegawa and Shizuoka and most likely my deep and abiding love of Japanese public transport. :)