Japan Travel Report 2011 [日本りょこう]

Because I travel a lot and in the next years I want to travel mainly through Asia, I want to summarise my trip to Japan in 2011. About my journey in 2012 I will write a daily report, so I think a short outline of last years trip will be enough at first.

Period: 13.08. - 28.08.2011
Climax: high summer, temperatures about 30+ degrees, high humidity

Everything started with the flight from Frankfurt Airport to Kansai International Airport (near Osaka). My two and friends and I travelled with the German airline ‘Lufthansa’, it was quite good.
From the Kansai Airport we took the Haruka Express to Kyoto Station. The tickets cost 30.000 each and the train took about 90 min. At Kyoto Station we felt mesmerized by the modern Station:

Kyoto Station (inside)

Fortunately our hotel was just across the street behind the station. We had a three-bed-room in the New Miyako Hotel (Standard): http://www.miyakohotels.ne.jp/newmiyako/english/index.html
We can really recommend this hotel. Everyone is very nice and polite, everything is clean and the rooms are nice arranged.

On the first day we walked along the Karasuma River till we reached the Gion Quarter. A nice quarter with an traditional atmosphere where you can see Geishas/Maikos walking around. Next stop was at the Imperial Garden. We couldn’t go in to the Palace, you need a registration beforehand.
Through the Teramachi Arcades we strolled to the National Manga Museum. Fee: 800
It was like a library only for manga, really great for fans^.^
From there we could walk along the Kawaramachi-dori directly back to our hotel. It was a exhausting day but we saw a lot and Kyoto is really a city where the past meets the modern age.

For the next day we decided to visit Inari, a suburban from Kyoto. We climbed the way up Mount Inari through the paths with their thousands of vermilion torii gates. At the top we arrived at the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Torii gates

Another destination from Kyoto was the old town of Nara. It is known for many temples and its free-roaming deers. They’re really cute, you can pet them and on the streets you can buy special food for feeding them. We went to the best-known temple: the Todaiji Temple.

Todaiji Temple

From Kyoto it also only takes about 45 min. by Local Train to Osaka, so we went there three times. We went shopping in the department store ‘Hep5’. It has 8 floors and on top of the roof is a red Giant-Wheel (fee: 500 ). We took a ride and had a great view over Osaka^^
Of course we visit Osaka Castle! (my highlight of the journey)

Osaka Castle

I took two hours inside the castle, it was really great. From there we went through Honmachi and took a break in the Hard Rock Café there. Another day we went to Namba, where is also a great underground shopping mall.
But of course, I just have plans for my next visit(s) there.

The second week we spend in Tokyo. We checked in in the Shiba Park Hotel (Standard; near Tokyo Tower): http://en.shibaparkhotel.com/
It seems more suitable for business guests, but the rooms where also great arranged.

But on the first day, where our Japan Rail Pass was still ready, we take the advantage and went to near Yokohama (around 40 min. by local train). The city has a nice harbour and of course we visited the Landmark Tower (but we didn’t go to the observatory platform on the top).


We had a little fun in the small amusement park ‘Cosmo Land’, after that we visit the so called cleanest super market in the world: The Vivre. I loved it and the center was great for a lunch break. After it we went to ‘Aka-Rengo-Soko’. A redbrick house where different handmade things are offered. They were very expansive but it was nice just to take a look.

In Tokyo we also wanted to visit many places but had just such few days left, so it was hard to decide.
We went shopping in the Takeshita-dori in Harajuku, drank a coffee in the Starbucks at Shibuya Crossing, searched for Anime stuff in Akihabara, took a trip over the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba, visit Sunshine City in Ikebukoro, of course went on the Tokyo Tower (but just to the 1rst platform, fee: 820 1rst floor + another ~500 to the top) and watched the high buildings of Shinjuku.

Sites of Tokyo

Panorama view by night from Tokyo Tower

Every place was worth its visit! And there so many places left! I can’t await ma next visit to Tokyo^^

At least I’d like to mention some personal aspects and highlights which maybe also interesting for you to know:

We didn’t have breakfast at our hotels because it was too expansive. But we found very nice Cafés near our locations where we could take a real good breakfast every day (a drink and something to eat for around 400-600 )

For on the move we brought buns or other delicious looking stuff and drinks in of the many 24h markets like Family Mart or Seven11. You find them everywhere, they sell almost everything you necessarily need and they’re quite cheap. But in Kyoto I mainly bought my buns in a small backery in Kyoto Station. Everything I bought there was sooo delicious, I really miss these buns.

We used a Japan Rail Pass (7 days) to travel around and use the Shinkansen to get from Kyoto to Tokyo (Nozomi Shinkansen). Quite useful and we didn’t have any problems with it. You need to show it to pass the barrier at the stations but so you don’t need to buy extra tickets everytime. In Tokyo of course it would be too expansive because you can only use it in JR Lines. In Tokyo you have mainly private subway lines, so it is more rentable to buy a ticket each time or take a day ticket if you take more than two rides.

We visited three Pokémon Centers: Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo. It was really funny (and we pushed the age of customers visibly up *lol*).

In Kyoto we had dinner in a nice food court nearby. They had quite a choice of meals. In Tokyo we had to look for places to eat or we decided to just buy something in the Family Mart (like onigir or nikuman, cost: 105 each).  You can get a good meal for around 550 so food isn’t that expansive if you don’t went in to a noble restaurant.

That’s that. I hope I have mentioned every thing which could be important. Of course you can also ask me if you want to know something for your own journey^^

My next trip will be in august 2012, I’m really looking forward to it X3

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