Japan · 16 Days · 65 Moments · April 2017

Brian and Susie Take Japan

16 April 2017

On the flight back, we decided to randomly watch the one anime available on the flight entitled "Your Name." It was magical. To be clear - the movie was good. Not perfect, but quite good. But what made it so special was the content of the film. It just mirrored the experiences and themes of our trip so incredibly. It's about a boy living in Tokyo and a girl in Rural Japan who start magically switching bodies. The boy lives in Shinjuku, where we stayed. He rides the same train line we took constantly. They hit up the same iconic vending machines we did. The girl lives in a rural area. She's an active part of the Shinto shrine and Shinto background. The movie drew heavily from the real places (not just generic train stations or whatever) and so it mirrored our trip really well. Sweet movie and serendipitous experience.

15 April 2017

Our farewell photo - Bullet train whizzing by, our beloved unlimited JR rail passes and Mt Fuji in the background.
Mt. Fuji in the distance.
Happy Party Train!
Our hotel for the last night. A cheap version of a fancy hotel. Meh.
Wandering around the sleepy resort village of Shuzenji. Rivers, temples, shrines, cherry blossoms, wooded paths, plum groves. Again, very serene.

14 April 2017

The capper to the trip: overnight at a fancy Ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel). Pictured: Brian and Susie in their yukatas, the koi pond out our sliding door, the private onsen bath. The multi-course meal served in our room. The total serenity. Not pictured: back support. Ow.
A glimpse of Mount Fuji from Mishima

13 April 2017

Overnight in Shibuya - a big time party district.
The Hachiko statue in Shibuya, dedicated to the world's most faithful dog. Google it. And then cry.
Studio Ghibli Museum!! No pictures allowed inside, but wow, such a cool place. The architecture was fantastic as well and added to the feeling of being in a ghibli movie. Very whimsical.

12 April 2017

No comment.
Also fun fact...the island was a major Japanese chemical weapon research, manufacturing and storage facility during ww2. Doesn't seem to bug the bunnies much though.
Albino bun!
It's time to visit Okunoshima, otherwise know as bunny island!!!! Yes, this honeymoon is clearly devolving into Susie and Brian just visiting nature preserves. We're ok with that.
Cute logo at Tadanoumi station... What could it mean??

11 April 2017

Two huge panoramas of the view by the tori gate in Miyajima.
Miyajima island near Hiroshima. Another utterly incredible place. Famous for the giant tori gate in the surf (at least during high tide), but also featuring more wild deer, another incredible shrine, multiple gorgeous temples and some pagodas. We had no idea what we were in for when we decided to visit.
On to Hiroshima and the Atomic Bomb memorial. Pictured: the a-bomb historical building (which was directly under the blast and so not instantaneously blown over), and president obama's note from his visit in 2016.

10 April 2017

Kyoto castle and nearby random shrine. As usual, the Shinto know how to build a place of worship.
The golden pavilion. Surprisingly disappointing. A gold building and then a really commercialized temple.

9 April 2017

Submitted without comment.
A very Japan moment.
With only a few minutes before closing, we decided to throw ourselves up this unexpectedly high cliff face in order to get to the.... monkey sanctuary!!
Hydroelectric power!
Tea at a botanical garden created by a samurai movie film star in the 30's. gorgeous...again. By this point in the day we were both pretty ragged...and there is much more to come.
Arashiyama, The bamboo forest. I feel like I'm missing the bulk of the park, as we only saw a brief road of bamboo with a zillion tourists on it.
Sakura in the tenryu-ji gardens.
Tenryu-Ji - Buddhist dragon temple with funny monk drawings.
Times, they are a-changin' No drones over the sacred landmark, please.
Himeji Castle with the Sakura blossoms in full bloom. Gorgeous.

8 April 2017

We watched Moana in Japanese. It was still great, and unsurprisingly we had no issue following along.
Rained out at toji temple.

7 April 2017

Kasuga Shrine. Honestly I thought it would be all downhill after Todaji but this place was even nicer. Serenity. That's the word for this place. Nicer deer, fewer crowds, and these lanterns!!! I love the total lack of restraint in Shinto temples. You want a lantern-lined path? How about we stack them 3 deep? You want some Torii gates along a path? We'll make literal thousands of them instead and call it Fushimi-Inari. You want to worship nature? Deer, hundred (thousand?) year old moss-covered lanterns and tiny creeks.
More deer and gorgeous lanterns. Sadly not pictured: Brian getting savaged (i.e., bit in the ass) by hungry deer.
Deer are sacred and considered messengers of the gods. So they walk around freely. Also they sell deer cookies all over the place and when you buy some you get totally mobbed by deer. NICE deer bow their heads when asking for a cookie. It's adorable. JERK deer bite you in the ass when you ignore them because you're busy feeding one of their friends. It is less adorable. Ow. Also, more cherry blossoms. This place is absurdly pretty.
Todaiji Temple in Nara. Get ready for deer pictures. But first, you have to pay the Buddha tax. Here's Buddha. Over 30 meters tall. The wooden temple around him keeps burning down (over a thousand years...) and they keep rebuilding around him. Enormous.
Wild cats at Fushimi-Inari. The first one caught a frog! Then he started gagging and drooling like crazy. Maybe one of those frogs that tastes horrible to ward off predators? Or just a rabid cat. WHO CAN SAY??
Fushimi-Inari Shrine. The famous 10000 tori gates. Once you made it away from the crowds lower on the mountain it becomes serene and gorgeous and so peaceful. Amazing place.
Small world. We found Aebelskivers outside of Fushimi Inari Shrine. They were filled with fish and kind of gross, though.

6 April 2017

Our hotel room in Kyoto. A bit of a step down from the Mira Costa.

5 April 2017

We stayed at Hotel Mira Costa - a Disney hotel INSIDE Tokyo Disney Sea. Super fancy. Also pictured - dinner that night which, while gorgeous, was a big disappointment (to Brian at least), especially considering how much it cost. It did come with fancy balcony seating for the Fantasmic show, however!
Fine dining at Magellan's in the park. We are in the secret wine cellar (accessible through a hidden switch and everything)!!
Disney Tokyo Sea - Brian and Susie Luck into the perfect day (with some anticipatory preplanning). 8:15 - enter the park early via our exclusive hotel access gate. Get tower of terror fast pass for 11:15. 8:40 - get in line for journey to center of the earth. 10:15 - done with journey. Meh. Book lunch reservations at magellans for 2 10:30 - book fastpasses for raging spirits roller coaster for 12:45 10:35 - walk literally onto the Indiana jones ride by entering the secret "single rider" queue. 10:40 - holy crap we're done with Indiana Jones. 11:00 - Sinbad and Chanda's ride 11:35 - tower of terror and delicious mochi. 12:10 - walk right in to big band bears stage show 1:15 - walk to raging spirits, determine we can fit on the ride, get walked to front of line. Lunch, 20k leagues under the sea, check into the hotel, drinks at the Teddy Roosevelt bar, gondola ride, dinner, fantasmic, pastries. Good day.
Fun rides - tower of terror and Sinbad's ride (adorable tiger Chandu sidekick pictured).
Tokyo Disney Sea (a second park, like California Adventure). Water themed and wonderful, of course.

4 April 2017

Robot Restaurant (not a restaurant)!!! A crazy, frenetic experience. Music, lights, robot samurai, tons of crazy stuff. Awesome time.
Sakura blossoms at the imperial palace.
Every morning we find a new neighborhood bakery.

3 April 2017

Mario Kart down the street of Akihabara. Because Japan.
"Piano Hero" in akihabara
More owl photos
Akihabara Owl Cafe. I have outdone myself. Also look at Susie's tiny owl!! 😳
Samurai Museum in Shinjuku. Armor and weapons up to 800 years old.
Cat cafe in Shinjuku!!

2 April 2017

Our fortunes from Senso-Ji. They don't pull any punches. (Susie's is The Lowest Fortune, Brian's is merely bad).
Special Reserve Aged Water. Only 250 yen.
Akihabara at night. Also incredible ramen.
Senso-Ji Temple
Asakusa near the Senso-Ji Temple. Oldest shopping road in the city. Reminiscent of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.
Meiji Shrine. A man-made forest, nearly 100 years old. Incredibly tranquil.
Harajuku and Omotesando - Ultra-fancy shopping boulevard.
Downtown Shinjuku is sweet.
Local curry shop and cat pastries for breakfast. 🐾

1 April 2017

Rushed selfie at the Haneda airport monorail. We're a little droopy after the 12-hour flight.