Wednesday, April 22, 2015

[Travel] Japan Day 2: Samurai, Shrines and Nara Park

Hi! Hi!

This day was a little bit more interesting than the last because we took a tour this day! I love going on tours when I travel because I really enjoy learning about different historical places as well as it giving you something to do. (Shopping and wondering is nice and all but getting taken to the places you want to go see is also super convenient.)

My breakfast that day, coffee, onigiri (which I think had some picked stuff in it? Or tuna? I can't remember,) and a green tea steamed bun - since Kyoto is known for green tea, I was determined to drink and eat as much green tea items as I could find.

Our tour started pretty early that morning and we were picked up from the hotel at 8:15 am (I think?) I took this photo as the bus was leaving. Kyoto actually gets blossoms earlier than Tokyo (I think?) because the weather is warmer than in Tokyo.

Japan really likes fake balconies on the hotels.
 The first place we went to was nijo-jo castle. I actually was completely uninterested in this because I had no idea what this was so I was actually really impressed with it when we went there! The tour guide told us about the Samurai that lived here as well as a bit about the history of Japan when the Shogun was around.
I really really enjoyed it.
You're actually unable to take photos of any kind in the castle so I can't share any with you here but if you're interested in learning about old Japan, it's definitely really interesting from a historical point.
 Outside was this cool looking gate.

 The gardens are really pretty and so well maintained. You can see how gloomy the day was here.
 Outside, you can see someone looking under nether to see how the nightingale floor is set up.
The floor basically squeaks in a way that supposedly sounds like a nightingale cry (I haven't heard a real nightingale before so I don't know if it was 100% accurate,) so that it would alter the samurai when there were intruders.
I think it's determined by weight because my friends and I didn't make the floor squeak at all XD.
Actually, inside is very cold and drafty as well, if you're sensitive to cold weather, bring something to keep you warm. I got a bit of a cough while I was inside (I didn't bring a mask with me because I didn't have any,).
(Also, you have to take your shoes off to enter here so make sure you have socks for sure on you,)

 Cute vegetable on the side of a bus we passed.

 Next stop was this shrine, I can't recall what it was called but the tour guide was staying something about students coming here before their examinations for good luck. I'm not sure if he meant this shrine or shrines in general though?

 Using chopsticks to hold up a tree.

 Look at how pink the blossoms are!!
The shrine was really pretty and it was quite busy that day - even though it was a Sunday there were some school kids at the shrine, they past me and my friends twice and both times, they'd say, 'Hi!' or 'Hello!' to us XD. Maybe they just wanted to practice their English? It was really cute none the less. 

 Next stop was Golden Pavilion. I had seen this before in pictures but never thought about it so going here was like a surprise because tbh, I didn't know anything about it. It was also really crowded here as well.
Also, I would really strongly advise you against using the bathrooms inside the grounds here. There's only a few and it's crowded at times. Maybe the ones outside the Golden Pavilion grounds were nicer? I didn't use those ones so I don't know.

 Got this shot! It's so pretty O.O

 This tree used to be a small bonsai - but it was planted and it grew into this tree which is taller than the house! O.O It's meant to be in the shape of a boat. It also faces west.
 So glamorous on top but first floor is so normal looking XD. We weren't allowed inside.

 People will throw money at anything. They also had some stalls where you can buy souvenirs - both of the traditional variety and with Hello Kitty or One Piece theme. 

After we had lunch. We went to have a traditional Japanese lunch.

 Bento with Tofu (it was nice,), fruit (which was a bit bland - maybe because they used out of season fruit?) Pickles and mashed potato (which was delicious,). 
 Tempura vegetables and Prawn. I didn't eat the prawn but the vegetables were nice. There was sweet potato (which I don't like but ate it anyways,) and I think orca - I've never had it and I tried it and I liked it but my friends didn't like it.
 And this! It was chicken and mushrooms and vegetables in a terriyaki broth. It was really delicious and I enjoyed it a lot. I made sure to eat all of it because it was good! I've never had terriyaki as anything other than a sauce.
This was actually cooked at the table, there's a small flame under it and you cook your own chicken and vegetables.

Because the tour was split in two sections (morning and after noon) so we have a bit of time until part two started so we decided to go for a walk around the block and explore where we were a bit despite the rain.

The Imperial Palace was closed the day we did the tour unfortunately. For any reference, it's closed Saturday and Sunday (I think?) and maybe Tuesday?
After lunch and our walk, it was time to go on tour again and head to Nara Park which was about a 40 minute drive away from where we were in Kyoto. It wasn't particularly interesting but I did see this!
 Fangirled like crazy when I saw it and annoyed my friends. XD
 Next stop was Nara Park. To be honest, we really didn't get a lot of time here unfortunately, and my friends were more interested in shopping than walking around -  they were selling Takoyaki and in the end we didn't have time to get any TT_TT I really wanted Takoyaki.

 After a quick walk through the park, we went to the temple at the back - this houses the biggest bronze Buddha in Japan.

 Some details if your interested. 

 Looking from the temple out towards the park.
 The giant bronze Buddha! It was really dim in the temple so this was the best photo I got.
 They had these cool looking models behind Buddha - of the different restorations of the temples.
 The gardens around the temple.

 We saw lots of pretty pink blossoms but they're already falling.

Oh also, try not to use the bathrooms here either XD - they're not that nice - we went later in the day and maybe that's why they weren't that nice.
(Also they have a lot of squatting toilets - over standard sitting ones, at the park so be careful entering a stall,)

 Finally opened this - my friends got me this while I was with Emi and I have no idea what flavor it is. If you go to Japan and see this - I recommend the grape! My friend got grape and it was way nicer than this one. 

 Cute deer just relaxing.

 I wish I had time to sit and draw on tour XD.

This is a Wisteria tree but it's the wrong season for the blossoms. I hope one say I can return to this tree and see the flowers. The girls at the shrine all wore interesting head pieces with the trees with crystal blossoms on their heads as well.
After we went to a super market that sold tourist items and snacks. We purchased some kit kats and other treats and headed back to Kyoto.

It was pretty late in the afternoon when we finally left and didn't return until after 6. We went to the hotel (after getting lost through the train station for a while :P) and freshened up a bit before going to dinner.
At this stage I think it was after 7 because it was really late compared to when I normally eat at home.
We were going to go to Isetan to eat since the tour guide said it was good there but the lines were all very long and we didn't really see anything we wanted there so we went back down.
 They had these lovely flower displays at the escalators in Isetan. I wish we could have pretty floral displays in Australia too!

In the end, we decided to try Japanese western food XD. I didn't really want to try it but I was convinced otherwise. We didn't have to wait too long here (I think it was called Wa or Wa Japanese?) and the waitress that served us so really lovely and helpful and tried to speak English when she could.

I ended up going for carbonara and I don't regret it. Instead of creamy white sauce, they use a soft boiled egg and traditional Japanese toppings like bonito flakes and dried seaweed. Definitely not carbonara but delicious none the less.
The pasta wasn't too badly cooked either although it did need about 1 minute more to be al dente but it really wasn't too bad overall.

We also got desert too!
 My friends chocolate banana pancake.
 My friends matcha and red bean pancake. I got to eat all her mochi since she doesn't like it. 
 My friends Matcha pancake - I can't remember what this was actually.
 This is mine - strawberry of course! It was so delicious and light and I want to eat it again TT_TT.
 And then we stopped by family mart to get snacks and food and I bought everything pink! Lol.
This is the first alcoholic drink I've ever bought and never been asked for I.D. Thank you Japan for assuming I am old enough to drink. I just bought this because my friends bought sake to share and I didn't want to be the odd one out. This had really low alcohol level (3% alcohol) and it tasted like cough syrup. There was also bits of jelly in it. I wouldn't buy it again to be honest.

After that we went to sleep.

That was all for today. I hope you all enjoyed this post and found it interesting - I found the tour super interesting and learned a lot of things I didn't know which is great.

I'll try and have the next post out soon as well!

Thanks for reading!
Berri Doll 

 Read more in this series;
- Japan Day 1: Shinaknsen, Kyoto and Emi
- Japan Day 2: Samurai, Shrines and Nara Park
- Japan Day 3: Kiyomizu Temple and Gion
- Japan Day 4: Kyoto Tower, Tokyo and Disney Store
- Japan Day 5: Ikebukuro and Sunshine City 
- Japan Day 6: Shibuya109, Asakusa Temple and Sky Tree
- Japan Day 7: Meiji Shrine, Harajuku and Family Dinner
- Japan Day 8: Nakano Broadway and Ueda 
- Japan Day 9: Palette Town and My Melody Theme Cafe 
- Japan Day 10: Tokyo Disney Land and Tokyo Disney Resort 
-Japan Day 11: Disney Sea
- Japan Day 12: Disney Land and Last Day in Japan


  1. Your E-ma looks like ume! Lol. Do you usually like ume? Sucks that it was raining this day! I think we were super lucky and didn't encounter any rain wtf. My bf usually buys one or two low alcohol content beers every night just to try lol. Some are quite terrible but some are good. Hope you kept trying them!

    1. Yeah. I think it's plum or sour plum? I like plums normally :D So lucky it didn't rain for you! Ah, really? That's good though - sometimes I think alcohol helps people sleep a bit too. And nope, this was the only alcoholic drink I bought in Japan :p Sorry.

  2. The drink you bought says "lumpy texture, strawberry cocktail". I think Japanese alcohols are a little hit and miss, but if you ever go back to Japan you should try "umeshu" or 'plum wine'! It's so nice, it's very sweet and not like normal wine. But it's very alcoholic lol. Best served with ice cubes! This brought back memories of my first trip to Japan, we went to Kyoto as well... maybe I might do a throw back post to my trip :)

    Can't wait for the next post!

    1. Only in Japan is lumpy texture a good thing XD. Ah, no I did try umeshu! I tried it later on in the trip - at a friends house. Home cooked meal and umeshu go very well together :D.

    2. Ugh I know! I once bought a drink that I thought was 100% jelly and you shake it then drink it. I did not enjoy... But yes, umeshu is so good. Especially the stuff at izakayas @v@

    3. Oh 100% jelly? That sounds strange... but also kinda fun :p but it's a shame you didn't enjoy it - I guess at least you tried it though and you know you don't like it? XD

  3. The pictures you took are all really nice! It's a shame that it was gloomy weather but I feel like it gave the castle and shrines a unique look~ Also, those deserts look absolutely yummy ^Q^

    1. Oh really!?! Thank you - I'm glad you like them! I had a lot of fun taking the pictures. The weather wasn't too bad, because even though it rained, it wasn't heavy or windy which is much worse than just rain. :p The deserts in Japan are always presented so nicely - sometimes it's hard to choose!


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