Visiting Japan in 2011

September 16th, 2011

Visiting Japan in 2011

We’ve just returned from a 12-day trip to Japan – my third time in the country. As usual, it was a wonderful experience that left us longing for more as soon as we left.

Edited – Here is a list of posts from the 2011 trip, for easy access:

Since high school, I have loved Japan. I can’t really put an exact date on it or explain it in a few simple sentences; there are so many little things that attract me to Japanese culture, fashion, art, language, and history. I guess it began with my profound interest in animation and video games hailing from that country as a teenager, and quickly grew from there. I started to take language classes in college, and studied in Japan for a summer. Now, I love many things about the country; the deep history, ancient places, modern places, and people all provide me with endless inspiration… but most of all simply being there in that culture, soaking it in, watching Japanese society – a complex and well-oiled machine – do its work. Tokyo, in particular, always amazes me; it can seem so chaotic and wild, yet so orderly at the same time.

Visiting Japan in 2011

Japanese people are generally very welcoming and polite to visitors (far more, I fear, than the U.S. is to our own visitors) and I’ve had nothing but great luck meeting people and exploring the country’s many interesting facets. It’s easy to get comfortable and want to stay forever. And it’s probably the closest thing to a food-lover’s heaven (not just Japanese food, either).

I’ll start with this “preview” post to give some clues about what we did and what we ate, then I will go into some posts about the best food experiences we had at specific places along the way. Finally, I will wrap up with thoughts about the trip, and some tips for other travelers going to Japan. Enjoy!

We started in Osaka (much more about our time in Osaka here), arriving after 3 long flights and a train ride to downtown, near Nanba area. We stayed in the gothic-chic “Cross” hotel which was quite interesting.

Visiting Japan in 2011

We explored Dotonbori, Doguyasuji and Umeda, eating Osaka’s most famous dishes. (While enduring the constant rain from a typhoon making landfall).

Visiting Japan in 2011

We took a day trip to Nara to see Nara park and the temples and shrines along the way.

Visiting Japan in 2011

We rode a train to Kyoto and stayed in Kyoto station (where the shinkansen and all other major train lines connect to Kyoto) for a few days at the Hotel Granvia (maybe our favorite hotel in Japan).

Visiting Japan in 2011

We visited Toji temple and Fushimi Inari shrine, two things we had missed on previous trips.

Visiting Japan in 2011

Visiting Japan in 2011

We took the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo and stayed at the Southern Century Tower in Shinjuku, visiting many other districts around Tokyo such as:

Visiting Japan in 2011

Shibuya, home to a world-famous crosswalk, street food, arcades and youth culture.

Visiting Japan in 2011

Akihabara, the electronics and game/animation district.

Visiting Japan in 2011

Harajuku, a trendy town full of fashion and odd little shops.

Visiting Japan in 2011

Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest and busiest in Japan.

Visiting Japan in 2011

During our time in Tokyo, we also met two (!) iron chefs from the original Japanese show at each of their restaurants where they still work. And one of them even invited me into his kitchen to watch him cook. Who could they be?

Visiting Japan in 2011

Of course the iron chefs made some seriously good food.

Visiting Japan in 2011

And of course we saw many, many cute and cool things that we could barely resist.

Visiting Japan in 2011

Or in some cases, could not resist.

Visiting Japan in 2011

No one does “cute” quite like Japan. And we fall for it every time!

Much more to tell, but this is just a start. Keep watching…

Visiting Japan in 2011
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