Over the lovely long Labor Day weekend Jon and I took a jaunt over to Japan! This was number one on my Asian countries bucket list so I was super duper excited. And, when it comes down to it, Japan delivered. What a delightful country filled with, you guessed it: fabulous food!
We flew in to Osaka. It is super close to Qingdao and cheap flying. Plus, the modern day Japanese culture there makes it a great city for people looking to get a feel for the country without having to deal with the insanity of Tokyo just yet. It is also a very short train ride from Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, so we could do a double whammy visit.
Our first day I was not appropriately planned ,so we mostly spent time wandering around the endless, and endlessly entertaining covered market streets. I had done enough research to take my husband's inner high school nerd to the computer and anime pop culture neighborhood, which racked me up some brownie points 😃 Points which I promptly cashed in, enjoying the great street fashion and a wonderfully quirky dinner joint with no English speaking staff or menu.
The next day we took the 20 minute train (told you it was a short trip) to Kyoto, my favorite city in Asia so far (cause I've seen so many :-P). There was a lovely canal side stroll it absolutely perfect weather, my first sushi eating experience (OMG is that raw fish good) and a pleasant afternoon wasted and the worlds first national manga museum and library. A fun fact about Kyoto: the canal was hassled by unique animal pests. Large flocks of hawks would descend to steal food scraps from the pigeons and extremely burly crows (seriously, I have never seen a bird who looked more like mob-muscle than these Kyoto crows).
Our last full day was trip to the aquarium, because I am a child. I love the aquarium; I want to be a seal or at least take one home as a pet. And nothing is cuter than a sea otter. This aquarium also has whale sharks..... They are extremely small for whale sharks so I don't know if that makes it okay or what.....
After the aquarium Jon and I climbed a mountain. Yes, really.
.....well okay, only sort of. Mt. Tempozan is officially recognized as the smallest mountain in Japan. But we still climbed all 4.53 meters of it.
As pathetic as that may be, I couldn't resist the opportunity to celebrate with souffle! This wonderful coffee shop has nothing but coffee, tea, and souflee, I think that is just perfect. I mean, what more could you want at 3:00 in the afternoon? Well, maybe you would want more, but I was a happy girl. Nothing left to do but return to the hotel neighborhood for a late meal in a local kitchy dive-like joint and a late night game session at the foreigner run and frequented space station bar.
So that was Japan. Wonderful, a little weird, and crooowded. But so totally worth it.
Food worth noting:
Real Japanese Ramen
assortment of tapas like japanese small plates with sake
Not so traditional:
Annnnnnnd (surprise entrant) UNSWEETENED yogurt!!!! (they had it at the continental breakfast, squee! We do not get that in China.