Wednesday, June 26, 2013

skytree and shinkansen

The last part of our trip was spent on the Shinkansen, or bullet train, back to Tokyo to see Skytree, the tallest radio tower in the world.


We stopped by The Sweet Shoppe and bought these huge macarons for a snack!

Skytree was really crowded; I definitely recommend going on a weekday, as with any other tourist place in Japan. It's impossible to avoid the crowds, especially during Golden Week! We had a lot of trouble with getting seats on trains, so definitely try not to come during Japanese holiday seasons.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

kyoto, take five

In the 2 years I've lived in Japan, I've gone to Kyoto five times. My favorite area of Kyoto has to be Arashiyama.

There's a beautiful river lined with wonderful restaurants and other shops.

The bamboo forest is another must-see in Arashiyama. If you're lucky, you can also catch a glimpse of maiko!

Kyoto is also famous for their kaiseki ryori, a type of multi-course meal that incorporates seasonal ingredients. I took my sister to the same place I took my boyfriend last time and although they had a completely different menu, it was just as good and just as beautiful.

It was a little pricey (we paid 8000 yen per person, roughly $80), but it was worth every penny.

I only have a month left in Japan! Then back to California...

Friday, June 21, 2013


Like Takayama, Kanazawa is a little off the path of most foreign tourists, but with one of the most famous gardens in Japan, the garden-loving Japanese come here to get a bit of the "old Japan."

Kanazawa Station is currently under construction to welcome the new Shinkansen track, which will be finished next year.

Kanazawa also has a castle adjacent to Kenroku-en, the famous garden.

The grounds were huge...

but idyllic.

 Kanazawa is also famous for its preserved teahouse districts. It was like stepping back in time.

Kanazawa is next to the sea, so of course, we had to sample some seafood!

Next, my favorite: Kyoto! Again!

Friday, June 14, 2013

sakuranbo marathon

I'm running another marathon this weekend, this time in Yamagata! This one should be a better run than the last one since the weather has improved drastically since winter and at the end, we get cherries! Yamagata is famous for cherries. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 13, 2013


After Takayama, we set off to Shirakawago, a traditional Japanese village that has been preserved. It's also a World Heritage Site.

It's extremely difficult to access without a car, but there are buses that go there from Takayama and Kanazawa.

People usually visit in the winter, when the straw huts are covered in snow, but it's also beautiful in the spring with cherry blossoms lining the river.

Again, a little off the beaten path, but well worth a trip if you're interested in seeing a little into Japan's past!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

hida takayama

The next stop of our Golden Week vacation was Hida-Takayama in Gifu Prefecture! It's not very popular for foreign tourists, but the Japanese come in droves.

There's a really wonderful old town area with quaint shops and small food stalls.

 Hida-Takayama is famous for beef, so we had some beef sushi!

and beef skewers.

They're also famous for a dango (mochi balls on skewers) called mitarashi dango. It's topped with soy sauce (salty/sweet combo) or kinako (sweet soybean powder) and grilled.

We stayed at a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) run by this super cute old woman and her older brother. They prepared a scrumptious meal for us featuring Hida-beef!

We had it two ways: in a sukiyaki (a sweet soy sauce broth with veggies)...

and grilled.

In the morning, we had a simple breakfast, but with more grilled beef and then set off to Miyakawa morning market.

Takayama is a nice traditional Japanese town, but it's a bit out of the way, and I do think there is more to see in the bigger cities, like Tokyo or Kyoto. I would skip unless you have time!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Yokohama, in addition to being the 3rd largest city in Japan, is also home to the largest Chinatown in Japan. I've been to many Chinatown's, and I have to say, it's the cleanest Chinatown I've ever been to (haha...).

Yokohama Chinatown is also near the beautiful harbor area. There were a lot of people walking around, enjoying the beautiful day and scenery.

We also went to the Minato Mirai area, where there are several high rises.

In the Landmark Tower, there's a special mapo tofu restaurant opened by Chef Kenichi Chen, of Iron Chef fame. (I found this place off Tokyo Eats.) It was pretty good! We all got the mapo tofu set which comes with rice, some pickles, and soup (the soup wasn't very good though). I'm not sure I would recommend it, since there are some pretty good restaurants in the Chinatown area, but Yokohama in general is definitely worth a visit!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

tsukiji fish market

Tsukiji is of course a must see if you're in Tokyo. It's one of the best places to get a fresh sushi breakfast!

We wandered into a little alley, where we saw a crowded sushi bar. Figuring that a crowd is always a good sign, we asked for seats, and they led us further into the alley to another sushi bar.

My sister got a nigiri set that included uni (sea urchin roe), three types of maguro (tuna), and ikura (fish roe).

I got a hitsumabushi. Now, I have had hitsumabushi in Nagoya, but it only had eel in it. You eat it three ways. First, plain like you see above.

Next, you mix in a sauce that the sushi chef gives you and eat it like that.

Last, the sushi chef gives you a special broth. It's piping hot, so it slightly cooks the fish, giving it an extra texture and a completely different feel. It's a really interesting concept, so definitely try it if you get the chance!