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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two weeks in Japan

It's hard to believe that we've already been back from Japan for two and a half weeks and I haven't gotten around to posting any of my pictures yet. Since I took thousands of photos and don't want to flood my blog with them, I'll just put up a few of my favorites, and link to my Flickr account for anyone who's interested in looking at the rest of them.

Rainbow Bridge & Tokyo Tower
The Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge, seen from Odaiba in Tokyo

We spent about a week in Tokyo, split over five days when we first got to Japan and then our final two days before leaving. It's hard to sum up our time there: we saw and did a little of everything, from shopping in Shinjuku, to looking at artifacts in the Tokyo National Museum, to visiting the boardwalk in Odaiba, to walking around little neighborhoods that felt like they were hundreds of miles from the city. I was impressed by how easy it was to get around - I built a lot more travel time into our itinerary than we needed, but that gave us extra time to see and do more things.

Kotoku-in
Kids on a field trip looking at the Great Buddha at Kamakura

We also wanted to see more of Japan than just Tokyo. Like many tourists, we made a day trip from Tokyo to Kamakura. Despite it being a very tourist-y thing to do, we loved visiting Kamakura, and it was one of our favorite days that we spent in Japan.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Whale shark and friends in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

We spent the second week in Osaka and Kyoto. I had been wanting to visit Osaka ever since I found out that they have a great aquarium, and great food. Neither of these things disappointed. The rain all day on Saturday did disappoint, especially since I ended up getting a cold after spending the day with soaking wet feet, but fortunately that was the only truly bad weather we had.

Nara
Nara deer

From Osaka, we made a day trip to Nara. Like Kamakura, it was a great day of visiting temples and shrines, and I liked seeing the deer there and feeding them crackers.

Kiyomizudera
Kiyomizudera in Kyoto

The Kyoto part of our trip was, in a way, the inspiration for the whole thing. I really wanted to see their famous maple leaves in the fall, so for a couple of years, we've been saying, "Let's go to Kyoto in November." It was a dream but I wasn't sure it would ever happen, so I'm so happy that we really did make it there. The maple leaves were nearly at their peak when we visited, and it was really beautiful.

Kodaiji
Maple leaves at Kodaiji in Kyoto

It was a really great trip - we managed to see and do everything we hoped to do, from the big stuff like seeing landmarks and historic sites, to weird little things on my bucket list like visiting a cat cafe, shopping in a Japanese craft store, and eating okonomiyaki in Osaka and green tea ice cream in Kamakura. If you'd like to see the rest of my photos, here's my collection on Flickr.

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