1st Solo Trip – Japan

(Pictures found under Asia 2014)

I got to Tokyo by plane, Kyoto by the Japan Rail (about two hours) and Osaka by Japan Rail (about an hour) as well. I didn’t take a single bus and took the taxi twice (to the fish market and temple early in the morning) Other than that, I walked around a lot, trying to get a feel for the city 🙂

Places Visited and Things Done (In no particular order):

TOKYO (November 11-12)
– Took pictures with Purikura machines (Popular activity that young people in Japan do)
– Check out depachikas (underground luxurious department food stores)
– Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
– Shibuya crossing
– Sensoji Temple
– Sanrio Puroland ^-^
– Tokyo Ramen Street @ First Avenue Tokyo Station (tried one of Tokyo’s top ramen restaurants; Rokurinsha)
– Tsukiji Fish Market (attempted – I went on a Wednesday not knowing that they close SOME Wednesdays!)

Tokyo is definitely a busy city. The food and shopping scene is crazy! It seems like all they do is eat and shop. In the most expensive way it seems. Almost all cities are highlighted by tall buildings with big signs and flashing lights *-* 

When I first booked my trip, I looked at Tokyo’s metro map and thought… What the hell am I getting myself into. I got a 2 day pass which costed 1200 yen. Japan also uses the Japan Rail which is a faster subway lane owned by a different company. That also means that you have to pay additional fare to use it. After using the metro a couple of times, I found that it was quite easy to navigate around. There are arrows to help you get to the right station and important information also has an English translation. There are metro representatives at every station (until the metro closes) to help you with any questions and concerns. What I found super cool about the stations in Tokyo is that most of them are interconnected. If I needed to be at one specific station but I ended up walking to the station before, there is an underground pathway that I can walk through to get to my station. Along the walk-way there are several food restaurants, convenience and shopping stores. It’s like a whole new underground mall!

Hostel: Khaosan World Asakusa
First hostel by myself and it was great. I like clean bathrooms and they definitely delivered it 🙂 Staff was super helpful and very knowledgeable of the area. Gave great recommendations of places to visit. However, the hostel was quite far from all the places I wanted to visit. Luckily, the metro is fast and wasn’t too too far from the hostel.

KYOTO (Kyoto 12-13)
– Kiyomizu-dera temple (I only took a picture from the entrance :() and area
– Otowa Waterfall (Kiyomizu-dera area)
– Shoren-in temple
– I visited a lot of temples and an orange shrine but I can’t seem to find the names at the moment 😦

Kyoto is more quiet than Tokyo. The metro is so much smaller so you’ll have to take the bus quite often. When I was at the station, it was hard for me to buy a ticket because there was no English! Luckily, there are always people to help you out! Kyoto I felt was much more cultural than Tokyo. I’m guessing it has to be, given all the temples and shrines that are there 🙂

Hostel: Khaosan Kyoto Guest House
This hostel was just as great as the last one. Maybe even better because each bed had its own outlet. Yes, call me spoiled! 🙂 Again, staff was super nice and helpful. Washrooms were super clean all the time. The hostel was close to Kyoto station (main station) which was great for me because I needed to be there to grab the train to Osaka!

OSAKA (November 13-14)
– Dotonbori Area (known for its entertainment, shopping and food)
– Pokemon Center
– Kushikatsu (Osaka is famous for this type of food)

So… I wanted to visit Osaka because it was on the way and closest to Taipei (which is where I had to fly after). I didn’t have much of an itinerary either. All I knew was that I needed to visit the Pokemon centre because I didn’t have the time to do so in Tokyo. But then I googled another place, Dotonbori area. When I got there, I was amazed! Big big tall buildings with the most lights I’ve ever seen! Reviews said that its known for its shopping and food and it sure is! Definitely a great experience! Before visiting Dotonbori, I felt that Osaka was just a bit busier than Kyoto. After visiting Dotonbori, it felt like a breed between Tokyo and Kyoto 🙂 Oh and I really liked the metro station here too. Just as much as Tokyo’s. I had the Japan Rail Pass so getting around was super fast! 🙂

Hostel: Guesthouse U-En Osaka
This was probably the best hostel I stayed at in Japan. The style was different and had that traditional/cultural feel. The hostel was a 5 minute walk to the closest station which was a big thumbs up. It’s also not too far from the Dotonbori area and the Pokemon centre 🙂 If anything I could’ve walked there which would’ve taken about 25 minutes. The receptionist spoke some of the best English I’ve heard so far in Japan. She was super nice, funny, helpful and knew how to get to anywhere (okay I might be exaggerating but nevertheless she was great).

What I Learnt About Japan and More: 
1. There are so many business men! They are everywhere and they almost all wear the same coloured suits (dark navy of black)
2. Japanese people love ramen, especially businessmen. I almost always see them at ramen stores
3. Japanese people love ramen so much, there are standing restaurants and there are standing restaurants OUTSIDE! When I was in Osaka, it was freezing. Whether must of been 5 degrees celcius. People were slurping on their ramen while wearing their hats, jackets and mittens.
4. There are food stores everywhere, even in small neighbourhoods. Oh, there are also drink vending machines everywhere and by that I mean even outside of homes
5. Seniors love to hang out
6. Tokyoites really know how to take care of their food and make it look nice. I ordered some sushi at one of the depachikas and they placed a cold gel pack to make sure it stayed cool until I ate it.
7. There are a lot of high end stores making Tokyo one of the most expensive cities I’ve ever visited
8. Japanese people are super nice. It’s in their culture to always bow their head when greeting or apologizing. There’s been a few times where I asked for directions and just before I’m on my way, the person would help walk me to my destination! Another time, I asked a male senior for directions and he accidentally bumped into me and he immediately stepped by, said sorry and bowed his head!
9. When making any form of payment, it must be set on a tray first (this is practised most of the time). This caught me off guard! When I got to the airport I bought a ticket to Kyoto and handed my visa to the representative. He just looked at it and ushered me to place it on the small tray. I thought maybe he would grab the visa and proceed with the payment but he transfers the tray to where the machine is and then completes the transaction. The card went back on the tray and then to me.
10. There are taxis everywhere! Some taxis are designated to stay in certain locations.
11. It’s true, the food is really good and fresh.
12. People hand out packaged tissues on the street sometimes that will display cute advertisements. Pretty smart way to advertisement. People need tissues and will use it.
**13. I also learnt that Japan is ranked one of the top countries in gender equality. The major turning point in a woman’s life is when she has kids. Women usually take care of all domestic work and the kids. Once leaving work due to pregnancy, it is hard to come back to the same position. What the job market offers mothers are usually temporary, low paid, irregular part-time jobs.

2 thoughts on “1st Solo Trip – Japan

    • Loved travelling by myself! I get to do whatever at my own pace and because I stayed at hostels I met a lot of amazing people 🙂 however I would not travel to all places by myself like South America!

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