My Japan Travels - Follow-along with me

Old May 29th, 2017, 03:32 AM
  #41  
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@MaryW, yes the apartment is above the potters house Tenseian. I absolutely love it here and Haraguchi-san and his wife (who I've yet to meet but know she's been around) are the best. Like I mentioned above, it's conveniently located to all of Kyoto either by bus, train, subway or walking. The apartment is in a lovely quite residential area with an elementary school in the back but you'll never know and considering it's off a busy street, it's so quite here. I highly recommend it. Only downside and full disclosure, the steps leading up to the actual apartment are very steep and narrow so if you have any aversion to climbing steep stairs (up/down) I would recommend against it.

Japan is very addicted, I haven't even left yet and I'm already planning my return. Matsumoto surprised me, contrary to everything I've read that it warrants one day to see the Castle, I was extremely happy with the 4 days I started there because you can do so many day trips using it as a base.

Let me know if I can answer any more questions for you. This is my very first trip that I did not buy a guide book and have not needed one. With the internet at my fingertips that's all the guide I need. Good luck planning. You won't be disappointed in wherever in Japan you choose to go.
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Old May 29th, 2017, 05:18 AM
  #42  
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Today I got up early and headed to Himeji and made it a quick visit. This was the best decision that I could've made. I arrived at Kyoto Station and went to the JR office and got reserved roundtrip to Himeji on the Shinkansen 495 which left Kyoto at 8:23 and arrived Himeji at 9:15. On our approach to Himeji station if you sit or right you get a chance to see this beautiful castle looming in the distance. No direction or map is needed. At station you'll want to take the north exit and simply follow the castle which will be beckoning you in the distance. Everything one have heard and read about how spectrally beautiful this white castle is are spot on. It's even more beautiful when you can see it up close. Even the approach to it is perfectly mesmerizing. Getting there around that time was perfect since the hoards of other tourists had not yet arrived so I had sometime to take pics of the castle and then I headed left to the garden area which I literally had all to myself with the exception of one or two people that passed through and thoroughly enjoyed this vantage point as I could view the castle from this angle as well. Once I was satisfied with all the pics I took, I headed back in the direction of the station just when the hoards were arriving. Perfect timing. Back at the station I did a little window shopping through the mall adjacent to the station and then stopped in Starbuck for a latte and a veggie wrap before heading upstairs for the Shinkansen Hiraki 470 which left at 1:02 and once I arrived at Kyoto Station I headed back to the apartment where Haraguchi-san was going to take me on an excursion.

We left the apartment at 3:10 and headed to Takao located in the mountains of Kyoto. The drive there was lovely and once we arrived, Haraguchi-san guided me in the direction to access Jingoji Temple and told me he would wait at the car for me. Reaching the temple involves taking steep stone steps down hill and then more stone steps up a very step hill to get to this temple, but trust me, it's worth it. Arriving at this temple was simply divine, unfortunately when arrived the main hall had already closed for the day, but the young lady allowed me to take some pics of the grounds. None of the other temples I've visited so far had the effect that Jingoji did. I think it may have more to do with the fact that I had it all to myself because as I was arriving a few people were leaving. The grounds are amazing and I can only imagine how beautiful it is for Cherry Blossoms and during Koyo when the leaves are at their peak. Haraguchi-san said that the entire area is heavily trafficked during those times. As I continued taking pics, I saw the image of a huge pagoda through the leaves and thought "oh my, I've got to get a closer look", so as I spotted the path that lead up to it and started towards it, what do I see slithering across the path but a huge snake. OMG, I started running the other way. This was not your everyday garden snake, which I also loath, but this was the biggest snake I've ever seen and I've seen my share of them. Even getting a closer look at that striking pagoda couldn't make me continue up that path. By this time I heard some voices and thought if they're going up there, then maybe I'll follow along, but sadly of the 3 men that came up, one who appear to be the groundkeeper told me that since it's five o'clock the temple is closed, so off I went back down the stoned-step stairs. While this Temple is worth seeing, it's not for those that has any kind of mobility issues. It's a very step climb and I'm thankful that I stay in shape otherwise, I don't think I would've made it up and back down.

On the ride back to the apartment, Haraguchi-san took me to an area overlooking the entire city of Kyoto and what a magnificent view it was with Kyoto Tower in the center of it all. He also stopped at another view area, also spectacular, this one overlooking the Hozu River. While we were there we spotted the Saga Scenic train rolling through and took pictures before heading back to the apartment. All in all, a very long, but fulfilling day.

My time in Kyoto is coming to an end as I head to Hiroshima on Thursday, but it has been remarkable being here. It's a lovely city and I hoping to come back soon for spring or fall.
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Old May 29th, 2017, 05:37 AM
  #43  
 
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Thank you very much for the info. Thats helpful. Just have to try and get a booking that will fit - juggling all the different bits is a challenge but it seems Japan requires it more than anywhere else.
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Old May 29th, 2017, 07:53 AM
  #44  
 
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We stayed at that same apartment. We loved the owner! We had a memorable night going out for drinks with him at a "private" bar after he'd taken us to Arashiyama. We also loved seeing the children practice for Sports Day, as we watched from the balcony. Thanks for helping me relive our wonderful stay there.

MaryW, the only negative thing I'd say about the apartment is that the steps are steep to get up and down to the living level. The layout also takes getting used to. The toilet is in a little room next to the kitchenette. There's a sink right outside the door. The shower is on the other side of the apartment, in an enclosed room but you have to go outside to get to it. There's a washer and dryer on the balcony. The location is great and it's an easy walk or bus ride to Gion.
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Old May 29th, 2017, 12:06 PM
  #45  
 
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Your report is helping me decide to really start planning a trip, everything sounds so beautiful.

Thanks for writing this.

Karen
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Old May 29th, 2017, 03:43 PM
  #46  
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@internetwiz, yes the setup does takes some getting use to, but I'm actually liking it very much because it's so different. And yes, the owner, even before I arrived was so responsive, thoughtful and kind, he's wonderful. Yes too enjoy watching the kids practice, even play baseball and watch the elementary school kids at recess.
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Old May 29th, 2017, 03:46 PM
  #47  
 
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Thanks Internetwiz for the extra info on the apartment. As a potter I am extremely attracted to staying above the studio. I might need to think about those stairs as I have a dodgy knee that is prone flaring with lots of steps and lots of pounding pavements so pretty likely it will play up.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 04:01 AM
  #48  
 
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Ditto, having taken up pottery just after my last visit to Japan (in large part inspired by the pottery class I took in Shigaraki), I'd love to stay in this apartment too, but I know that the steep stairs and layout would be an issue for me.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 09:13 AM
  #49  
 
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MaryW, we minimized the times we had to go up the stairs by keeping our suitcases, with most of our things, on the ground floor entry level. If we needed to grab something before we went out, it was easier to rummage through our suitcases there, than to have to go back upstairs (plus we didn't have to bring them up/down the stairs anyway).

Kavey, apparently the potter, Mr. Haraguchi, has an example of his work in one of the British galleries. You might be able to track it down. He's shown all over the world and is known for his celadon. (We got to look in his studio, which is on site.)

Sorry to hijack your thread, jdc26 (I'm in the DC area, too.)
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Old May 30th, 2017, 11:40 PM
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Oooh thanks I'll look for that.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 02:27 AM
  #51  
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@internetwiz, no apologies needed. MaryW made and inquiry on this thread and you had other information pertaining to that inquiry so no hijacking was made. Good to know another DC area poster is on board. I don't recall if you were you at the last GTG and if so, sorry we didn't get a chance to meet. Hopefully, next time.

Days 8-9 - Kyoto

Yesterday was a very leisure day for me since I'd checked off all I wanted to do here in Kyoto and decided to sleep in a bit before getting up and packing my luggage for forwarding to Hiroshima. Haraguchi-san and I had walked across the street to "K" convenient store to get a label so if could fill it out in Japanese. Once my luggage was packed, I decided to head to Gion which I hadn't really spent too much time in, finding it a bit too much for my taste, like a magnified version of Times Square in NY, with the wall to walk people. But I was trying to find a bakery that someone had recommended call Kyoto Gion Boloniya which makes original fresh-baked Danish breads. Arriving in Gion, I stopped in a shop to pick up a couple souvenirs for some friends and inquired with the clerk if she know where it was and after doing a google search, she pointed me in the right direction which she said was about 7 mins. walking. So off I went and sure enough in 7 mins I'd located it (it's a 7 mins walk from the Gion stop which is also the stop for Yasaka Shrine, but I guess there's another stop after that which is closer, but I got off at the Gion/Yasaka Shrine stop). Once inside the smell of fresh baked bread was wafering from the back and I had such a hard time deciding which ones to buy so I purchased a couple slices of the original (they're packed by either 2 small or 2 large slices our you can buy the whole loaf), a raisin swirl, a round one (not sure what it was, but after eating it later, it was delicious) and a croissant. With my bread purchase in hand and since it was now lunch time, I decided to head back to a restaurant where I enjoyed an amazing fried rice. Once I arrived, it was packed just like it was the first time I was there, but finding a seat for one wasn't difficult. After I was seated I told the waitress that I wanted fried rice no meat, which she understood and then tried to tell her not too much salt, which she wasn't understanding and just as I was about to pull out my google translate the chef, who'd recognized me motioned to her that he knew what I was saying since I'd asked the same thing when I was there (good to be remembered...lol). Food arrived and just like the last time, perfect.

After I was finishing my lunch, I continued on to explore Gion. Not sure if it was the time of day since most tourists were probably all out sightseeing but it was not overly crowded, in fact, it was quite the opposite of the first time I went there which was early evening time when everyone had done their sightseeing and most Japanese were done with work, so this was very much a different scenery. Even walking over the Shijo Bridge was different no wall to wall congestion of people that I actually got to take some pics of scenery on river banks, then I headed down Pontocho Alley and wow this too was a contrast to when I tried (yes tried) to walk down here. It was literally empty with just a few sprinkles of tourists like myself so again I was able to pics. I then headed to the Takashimaya Department store, hitting the basement floor first. I just love walking around there looking at all the mouth-watering-deliciousness that have there. Needing a sweet fix after lunch, I purchased some type of small chocolate shaped pastry which was delicious and an apple turnover for later and went in search of decaf coffee since I had used the last one that morning, but didn't find any so I headed upstairs and stopped at the Mac counter to see if they had a lipstick color that each time I tried to purchase it in the US it was sold out, luckily they had it there so I purchased it along with a black eyeliner (I know all the way to Japan to purchase makeup, but you get it when you can). Since most stores in Japan are offering tax free, I decided to take advantage although my bill wasn't that much, but enough that I could get the tax I paid back, only downside was I couldn't open the lipstick or eyeliner before leaving Japan (boo hoo hoo). Oh well, one less purchase to make when I return home.

After receiving the taxes I'd paid (minus a 1.1 % service charge that Takashimaya charges). On the way back, I stopped at Shijo Bridge and went down o the riverside where many were congregating I suspect to get away from the heat of earlier in the day so I too joined them, but more so to just enjoy the view and being in Kyoto. While there I spotted a newly wed taking their wedding pics and took a couple of my own. After spending about an hour there, it was dinner time to think about dinner, so I headed back and tried to find a restaurant that I'd seen advertising they had vegetarian dishes, but couldn't find it, but remembered on my way to finding Kyoto Gion Bolongiya passing a Ramen and Indian restaurant so I headed in that direction. Looking at the Ramen restaurant's menu I didn't see a vegetarian option so I headed upstairs to the Indian restaurant which I knew would have vegetarian options. Once there (just me and must've been the owner), I told him I wanted something with no meat and to surprise me but don't make it spicy (he spoke English). He then served me a delicious dish of basmati rice with a curried vegetables that included pumpkin, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, etc. Happy and filled, I walked back to the apartment enjoying my apple turnover on the way (yes, I heard Japanese don't eat while walking, but contrary to that saying, I've lots of them, especially the school kids eat while walking, plus, I figured walking home would burn off some of the calories...lol).

Before going to the apartment, I stopped at Haraguchi-san to pick up the table for sending my luggage to Hiroshima and when he answered the door, he also had some watermelon for me (how sweet), unfortunately, I had to decline telling him I don't eat watermelon and hoped I hadn't offended him, but he said it was okay. Back at the apartment to hauled my suitcase downstairs and across the street to "K" only to be told that they will be closed tomorrow so can't be picked up, so I headed back an stopped and told Haraguchi-san, who was surprised and decided to walk back over with me to see if they couldn't send it that evening, but once we got there the clerk told him that there was no more pick up for the evening and the same thing he had told me they were closed. So we walked back and he said after dinner we will take it to 7 Eleven and to leave the suitcase with him. But back at the apartment he came over to tell me that his wife will call Sagawa and they'll pick it up today, then if asked what my plans were for tomorrow and I told him I didn't have anything specific planned and he said he wanted to take me to see another beautiful temple so be back by 3:30 and I said okay. End of a leisure day.

Day 9, final day in Kyoto coming up.

Again, thanks for following along and apologies for any errors.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 03:43 AM
  #52  
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Day 9, Kyoto, last day

For my last leisure day in Kyoto, I planned to go to the Imperial Palace and return in time to meet Haraguchi-san for a last temple excursion. At Kyoto Station, I took the Karasuma subway line to Imadegawa Station (not covered by JR Pass) and walked to the Palace where, after security check I was giving a hang pass which is returned after touring the Palace grounds which is immaculately beautiful and well maintained. Guided tours are available which I didn't use. The garden is lovely and I spent most of my time there just taking in the scenery and taking pictures from every angle imaginable. After visiting the Palace I wondered over the Park and spent time there taking pics and also ran into a group of Japanese mothers having a picnic with their children. They seem so happy and just enjoying sitting in the shaded area from the heat of the day, that I asked if I could take a picture and they happily said yes which made me so excited because it was just such beautiful image of them. After taking the picture they asked where I was from and when I USA, they all shouted "YAY". One of them in particular spoke very good English. I then ask if I could get a selfie to which they all responded yes, as I set the timer for a count down from 10, they all started counting down too and when it was almost just at 1, we all shouted "YAY" and I have to see it turned out to be a beautiful pic. I sent it to my friends and they said that is by far one of the most beautiful pic I've sent (not that I haven't sent some stunners, but this one interacting with the ladies they thought is special). After bidding the ladies goodbye I continued strolling through the park which offers such good shade from the heat of the day and had a nice cool breeze blowing, I finally left about 1:45, grabbed something to eat at MOS burger and headed back to Kyoto Station and back to the apartment to meet Haraguchi-san.

My final excursion by Haraguchi-san was also to Takao but this time west Takao where he took me to Seiryu-den which also has an amazing Observation Deck and the KOU-AN - Glass Teahouse by artist Yoshioka Tokujin. The views from the Observation Deck offers exceptional views of the city and has a beautiful garden, another one that I couldn't bare to leave. The Glass Teahouse also adds an unique look to the Observation Deck area.

I was also lucky that this too was not crowded as just as we were arriving a tour bus with a group of Japanese were arriving, but they did not stay long at all only visiting the Observation Deck and then leaving. Once they were gone, the only people that remained were myself and two other couple and after one of the couples left, it was just the three of us remaining. While on the Observation Deck and I could here in the distance thunder and could feel a change was coming. By this time, it's almost 5 and the announcement came that they were getting ready to close, so I left and told Haraguchi-san, how happy I was that he took me to two special locations that I thoroughly enjoyed. We then left and he drove me by a restaurant he said had very good vegetarian udon noodles and I decided that's where I would have dinner, but the thunder I'd heard in the distance arrived and I didn't make it out again, which was fine, because I really wasn't that hungry and retired early for my last night in Kyoto.

Today I arrived in Hiroshima where I'll spend the next 4 nights before heading back to Tokyo for the last 4 and then head home.

Up next Hiroshima, day 1.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2017, 06:22 PM
  #53  
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Hiroshima:

I left Kyoto (already missing her) for Hiroshima taking the Shinkansen with a transfer at Shin-Kobe and onto Hiroshima arriving Hiroshima at 1:36. My host had giving me instructions on how to get to the apartment, but I totally forgot the first step, which is after arriving at Hiroshima transfer to a local JR train for 2 stops and follow her direction, but instead at Hiroshima, I tried to follow her direction to no avail, until I stopped and asked for directions only to be told, I needed to go back to Hiroshima Station and take another train. I literally hit myself on the head for not following the first step. Back at Hiroshima Station, I proceed to take the local train 2 stops and arrived at the correction station Yokogawa and then proceeded to follow her direction which was spot on. At this time, when I didn't show up, my host texted me to ask where I was and when I told her about my mishap and where I was currently, as I turned to walk down the street where the apartment is located, there she is coming to find me. We both had a big chuckle at me missing the most important first step.

After showing me around the apartment (which is just as described on Airbnb and very large considering the usual size of Japanese hotels/apartments. In fact, it is twice the the size of the hotel room I stayed in at Matsumoto), I headed out to check out the neighborhood which is well located at only a few minutes walk to Yokogawa Station where you can take the tram lines all over Hiroshima and a bus stop not far from the apartment. There's also plenty of restaurants along the way and is easily walkable throughout the city, which was my way of checking out the city. I walked from the apartment along the beautiful river that runs through the city and ended up at Hiroshima Castle (didn't go to the Peace Memorial or Atomic Bomb because I wanted to save them for a day of their own) which I didn't visit only took a few pics and then worked my way to Hiroshima Station where I went in search of something to eat for dinner and found an Indian/Nepalese restaurant ordering vegetable rice dish, after which I headed back to the apartment for the night.

The next day, my plan were to visit both Iwakuni and Onomichi, so I took the JR train from Yokogawa Station to Iwakuni to see the Kintai-kyo Bridge, the wooden bridge of five arches that sits on stone pillars crossing over the Nishiki River. Arriving at Iwakuni Station, I then took a bus (300 yen, not covered by Japan Rail Pass) about 15-20 mins and got off at the stop just across the street from the bridge, walked across the street and bought a ticket to cross the bridge and take the ropeway up to see the Castle. After purchasing my ticket I crossed the street and got a full view of this beautiful wooden bridge which is absolutely gorgeous sitting above the Nishiki River that flows through the city. I was so enthralled by beauty of the bridge it took me a while before I could cross it, I was taking so many pictures even stopping strangers to take pics of me with the bridge as a backdrop and the area surrounding it, which is just as eye-popping. I literally fell in love with this city. I finally went to the ticket booth to show my ticket for crossing the bridge and even crossing the bridge took me a while to cross to the other side because of the amazing views/scenery, from the beautifully maintained park that flanks the bridge on the other side, to the small boats sitting in the water to those that were fly fishing in the Nishiki River below, it was all so breathtaking. It also helped that it was a clear, beautiful sunny day after having thunderstorms moved through during the evening.

I finally made my way across the bridge and wandered around the town starting at Kikko Park (but didn't fully explore until I came back down). Wondering around, I felt like I was transported back into another time, it was so surreal and beautiful and to add to that, not many tourists were there. I saw some school kids who appear to have been on a field trip and were now playing by running through one of the many beautiful water fountains. Finally arriving at the ropeway, we made our way up the mountain with the most fantastic view of the city imaginable, oh, it was breathtaking. Getting off the ropeway at the top, I followed the signs to the castle which leads you through a well paved winding-tree-lined road before arriving at the Castle, which in my opinion, besides Matsumoto and Himeji Castle is beautiful. Unlike Hiroshima Castle, I took many, many pictures here before strolling along the grounds which is also beautiful and well maintained. I didn't pay the 260 yen (I believe) to enter the castle, which I believe offers another amazing view of the city below and the surroundings.

After spending about an hour or more here, I headed back to the ropeway for the ride down and once back down, I continued to stroll through Kikko Park where upon entry features a Statue of the third Lord of Iwakuni and the one who initiated the bridge's construction, Kikkawa Hiroyoshi,various water features and fountains and a castle moat, an Iris Garden (next to Kenrokuen Garden, one of the most beautiful, I've seen thus far) another Japanese garden, Kikko Shrine, Noh Stage, Statue of Hozumi Tanaka (Japanese Composer) - you can press a button and listen to the music that he has composed, Kinunkaku Pavilion (so beautiful over the water), White Snake Observatory (a miss for me hate snakes, even non-real ones), Mekata Residence (former samurai residence), Nagayamon Gate, Choko-kan and Kikkawa museums), Statue of Kojiro Sasaki (historical master swordsman) and Kikko Tea Ceremony Room. So as you can see, Iwakuni has so much to offer right there in this Park, besides the bridge and the castle. I'm still stunned by how much I loved it there. Needles to say, I didn't make it to Onomichi.

After spending the entire day there, I took the bus back to the station and then the train back to Yokogawa Station, where I took the tram #7 to the Genbaku Dome-mae stop (which is the stop for the Atomic Bomb and Peace Memorial). Arriving, I only took a few pics of the A-Bomb Dome before the battery on my iPad died and then I used my iPhone for a few more before hunger took offer. As it was not the time I'd selected to spend there anyway, I headed off in search of something to eat and settled on a restaurant that served a delicious spaghetti with vegetables sort of primavera. After that I took the tram back to Yokogawa Station and walked to the apartment for the evening.

Yesterday, with my JR Rail Pass having expired on June 2, I took the tram #7 to Tokaichi-machi, where I transferred to tram #2 bound for Hiroden-miyajima-guchi for 260 yen to Miyajima. While the tram makes many stops before arriving at Miyajima, I enjoyed the ride both ways. Arriving at Miyajima-guchi Station I purchased a 1 day pass 840 yen that allowed me to ride the ferry and tram for the day, but not valid on the JR ferry. The ferry ride as you approach Miyajima Island is beautiful and as it was another because day, helped in seeing the beauty of the island. Once on the island, where there were lots of other tourists but not as many as I'd anticipated, it immediately struck me that I was not as awe-strucked as when I arrived at Uji and the day before at Iwakuni even seeing Itsukushima Shrine and the O-Torii. The deers here looked malnourished and sickly and I was amazed at how many were petting them even allowing their children to pet them.

After taking some pics, I made my way to the ropeway to Mt. Mission which I was really looking forward to. I followed the signs (which involves an uphill climb to get to and about 100 steps (if you believe the sign or count them, I didn't)) and arrived at the ropeway where I boarded a cable car with another couple and off we went. Up, up, up, up, all the way up, and still up we went for what may have been about 10-15 mins or more, I wasn't keeping track of how long we were in there, just admiring the beautiful views. Once we arrived at the station, we then took another ropeway, this one offering even more spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea and the little islands and as far as Hiroshima. Just simply breathtaking. Once I arrived I walked up to the Observatory which also offered even more amazing panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea and islands. From there I took the trail to Daisho-in Temple and to Mt. Misen summit and if it wasn't for the fact that I worked out constantly and stay in good shape, I'm not sure if I would've made it. Although there are instances where you're going down slope, the slopes are steep and then you climb even steeper slopes. After a Daisho-in Temple, along with 2 other ladies, who I ended walking with, I was so exhausted, I found a cool shade and rested for about 15 mins. The other 2 ladies who also rested a bit, were ready to leave after about 5 mins., but I wasn't and told them to go ahead. When I was ready, I made my way up even steeper rock steps finally arriving at the Summit where you're greeted with stunning panoramic views as well. By this time it was about 3:45 and the Summit closed at 4:00 so I took a many pics as I could while letting the gentle breeze cool me off before heading back to the ropeway which closes at 5:30, but on the way back, there were many who were on their way to Daisho-in Temple and I assume the temple, even when it is being announced that the last cable care leaves at 5:30. Going back, while still difficult, didn't take as along even when we came upon a snake on the trail. I came upon him after seeing the couple in front of me looking at something on the ground and which I assumed was a shoelace until I saw it moved and then I ran backwards screaming because I'm so afraid (more like hate) snakes. The couple who came up behind me also were terrified and as we all stood there beckoning the snake to just crawl over to the other side, he had different ideas, just lying there with it's head raised. At this point, two ladies approached and she mentioned that a snake were on the trail, but unlike us they were not afraid and just walked on by, then another two ladies did the same and then finally, after seeing that the snake is not going anywhere I took my hat off to cover seeing the snake and just ran until I rounded the corner. The couple also followed along laughing.

Once at the ropeway, I took the next larger cable car over to the other side and then the smaller one back over. Once I decided I would go back to the ferry and then head downtown Hiroshima to get something to eat for dinner. By the time I reached the pier the high tide had already came in, so I took some pics of O-Torii at high tide and then headed to the ferry back to Miyajima-guchi station. Back at Yokogawa, I took the tram downtown and will walking through the shopping district looking for something to eat, I spot a restaurant advertising vegan/vegetarian food. It's an Art Cafe named Elk, there I had a very lovely dinner and talked to the owner telling her how happy I was to have ran into her restaurant and how difficult it's been finding such kind of restaurants in Japan. After dinner, I took the tram back to Yokogawa Station and walked back to the apartment for the evening.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 08:27 PM
  #54  
 
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Wow! Thank you jdc26 for sharing so many great little details - they are so helpful when planning our trip.
Could you tell me how you sourced apartments to stay in? I will be travelling with my husband and 2 teenage children, and apartments would be a great option for many reasons in the places where we have more than a few days - Tokyo and Kyoto in particular.
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Old Jun 7th, 2017, 03:54 AM
  #55  
 
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Wonderful travel report. Thank you! I'm saving it to favourites because you visited so many places i now want to see too after reading your report
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Old Jun 7th, 2017, 05:50 AM
  #56  
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@Judith_Hunter, thank you for reading my report. The apartment I stayed in Kyoto was mentioned here by another poster in her trip to Japan. It's a lovely place and the owner and his wife are the best hosts. As I mentioned up thread, if you don't have issues with going up steep/narrow stairway/steps, it's perfect. It's also a 2 bedroom so would be perfect for you and your family. The location cannot be beat as the bus stop (Gojozaka) for Kiyomizudera Temple is also the bus stop for the apartment and within walking to many other temples (if you're a walker like I am) and Gion. The other apartments are Airbnb's and I've been extremely happy with all of my choices and the hosts.

@sandgroper, thank you as I am enjoying yours.

Hiroshima - last day

I truly saved for the best for last by leaving my visit to the Peace Memorial/Park for my last day. Visiting it on a Sunday, no less, made it the restful reprieve that one needs with the hectic schedule that my travels throughout Japan entailed. I had intended to get there early but my suitcase was being sent to Tokyo and the scheduled pickup was between 9-12. Needless to say, the pickup was very late, so I didn't make it to the park until about 1pm after taking the tram from Yokogaw Station to the Genbaku Dome-mae (Atomic Bomb Dome) Station stop, which provided me with the perfect amount of time to spend the remainder of the day, which is what I did. After, I arrived, I walked to the right of the A-Bomb and along the west bank of the Ota River entering at the Peace Clock where I stayed for quite sometime taking some pics and then I found an empty park bench located directly in front of the A-Bomb, where I sat for about an hour and half in total peace and tranquility not able to tear myself away. At that moment, I was really happy I had no other plans for that day because I surely would've canceled them. When I finally did, it was only to grab something to eat and came right back to that stop and ate picnic-style at the same bench for another 2 hours.

After finally getting up, I went to explore the rest of the Park, starting directly behind me at the Bell of Peace, then onto the Children's Peace Monument, Peace Flame, The Memorial Cenotaph, where as luck would have it, a group of Japanese school children (may have been high school) were performing a ceremony with recitations by 3 different students and then they sang what I think maybe been the Japanese National Anthem. It was all very nicely done and moving. Because I'd spent so much time sitting at the bench in "peace and tranquility" by the time I made it to the actual Peace Memorial Museum it was closing time so, sadly for me. It was still the perfect day to be there because it was not crowded and as I was heading back to my bench another group of Japanese school children, this time looks like a choir (again either Junior or High school) were gathering in front of the A-Bomb building and sang two beautiful songs. So all in all this was as I had intended it to be a peaceful day at the Peace Park Memorial.

Since it was now time for dinner, I went in search a restaurant that my host had recommended saying they served vegetarian meals and with the help of two Japanese a woman (who does not live in Hiroshima so didn't quite know the area) and then a gentlemen (who Iives there) was able to help me find Otis. Once at Otis a Tex-mex restaurant, I ordered the spicy lentils (which was not really spicy as in hot, just the different spices used) with brown rice (not had since leaving Tokyo) with fried bread. Eating it was like eating something that momma or grandma, home cooking at it's best. After I was finished, I thanked the lovely proprietor and walked back to the Peace Park, which was now almost empty of visitors and was so eerily silent and dare I say it, peaceful or maybe even more peaceful. I lingered there a while taking it all in and then took the tram back to Yokogawa Station still feeling that sense of peace and tranquility.

I'm now back in Tokyo before heading home on Friday. Yesterday I spent the day in Asakusa because I wanted to get a chef knife for myself and my best friend wanted a cleaver, so I headed to Kappabashi Street and sort out Kamata which has been recommended on here by MinnBeef. At Kamata, I purchased both having my name engraved on my chef knife, but unfortunately they couldn't engrave the cleaver due to the metal being too thick. After which I basically wondered around the Asakusa area, deciding that I really liked the vibe there and may consider staying there on my next return trip to Japan. I didn't really visited any temples while there because after Kyoto, I'm still templed out, but because I was looking for a Yakata for a friend, the only place I found that had one was a shop located at the first of the Hozomon Gate at Senso-ji Temple, but only took some pictures. I purchased the Yakata and a couple of beautiful wind chimes made in Japan from another shop for my bedroom deck before heading back to the apartment.

Today, I met the host of my first Airbnb, who I've become really good friends with at Shinjuku Station where we went to Starbucks for coffee before she left for her 12:30 appointment. Before she left she showed me how to get to Shinjuku Gyoen Garden and also the Tokyo Metropolitan building, on my way to Gyoen Garden, I stopped and purchased by NEX ticket for my departure on Friday morning and then headed to the garden, which is lovely even if the weather here in Tokyo has been a bit gloomy and overcast, I still enjoyed about a half and half before leaving and making my way to Hamarikyu Gardens which Mari texted while I was at Gyoen and told me I should visit (I may be templed out, but not garden out...lol). So I headed back to Shinjuku Station where I took the Toei Oedo Line to Shiomode Station took exit 10 and walked about 7-10 minutes to the garden. The entrance fee is 300 yen and the garden is lovely. I arrived just a little after 4pm, but their closing time is 5pm. It's hard yet amazing that in the heart of Tokyo lies two beautiful garden tucked away from all the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. I didn't have much time to see the entire garden and only had time to sit for about 10 minutes at the Teahouse to enjoy some tea and sweets before they closed at 4:45. After leaving the Teahouse, I continued to explore for about 5 mins for they announce they were getting ready to close and we should head to the exit.

Once I exit, I decided to take the train from Shimbashi Station (Shiomode is like a maze) back to the apartment. At Shimbashi station, I did stop and grab dinner before taking the Ginza Line in direction of Asakusa, transfer at Nihombashi, Tozai Line to Takadanobaba, transfer to the Seibu Shinjuku line to the stop for the apartment Araiyakushi-mae.

Next up, my final day in Japan
jdc26 is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2017, 03:53 PM
  #57  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Great detail! Will have to dig in once I start planning in earnest. Were you there a month?
yestravel is offline  
Old Jul 4th, 2017, 04:42 AM
  #58  
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Dona, yes I was there a month. Topping this made me realized I never posted my last day in Tokyo. Will have to search my memory.
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Old Jul 4th, 2017, 06:54 AM
  #59  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Thanks -- that's about how long we will go. Did you like the pacing of your trip? Any thoughts on what you would have done differently? Is there somewhere you have posted links to where you stayed for the ones you would recommend?
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Old Jul 5th, 2017, 02:52 PM
  #60  
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Dona, yes, I absolutely loved the pacing of my trip. I'm more a slow traveler and don't like to change places every other day and if I had more time, I would've opt to spend at least a week in each of the destinations. Other than spending more time in each of the destinations, I don't think I would do things any differently than I did. I enjoyed each of the destinations I chose and had such a grand time. I posted a review on TA for the Guesthouse in Kyoto and of course, for each of the Airbnbs, all of which I would highly recommend, the only exception being that the apartments are stayed are all suited mostly for a solo traveler with the exception being Hiroshima, which was by far the largest.

Japan is amazing and I'm sure whatever you choose to do you will have a great time.

Any other questions, please ask.
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