Wow, I feel like I’ve not sat still in days (that isn’t true given I had a couple of hours on the Shinkansen down to Kyoto and back again) and I am feeling super tired and yet still wanting to get out and go. There’s just so much to see and do while in Japan and even though I’ve been here before there’s so many places I’ve yet to see and places I’d love to get back to.
Okay, so since the last update I have hit Akihabara. I spent nearly six hours wandering around the area and even that wasn’t enough. I actually left not because I ran out of time but because I’d pretty much exhausted my designated budget for that part of the trip and staying any longer would have been hazardous to my ability to eat for the rest of the trip (and if you’ve been following me on Twitter you know that I am enjoying my food here).
So yes, I found treasure. And while I’ll take my time unboxing and taking some photos of it when I get home for now I’m keeping things firmly wrapped up so they survive the trip home. That said, the two main figures I got were both second hand and reboxed in the first place but it did make them infinitely more affordable. Ciel from Black Butler and Asuna from Sword Art Online will be making the trip home from Japan with me this time, and a third character who I am keeping under wraps because I plan on doing a give away for my blog anniversary so watch that space.
Animate was also visited and I got myself a pencil case from Dakaichi, a Natsume acrylic stand, Banana Fish post cards, and a Platelet key chain. All and all, very happy with my wanderings except that one of the last shops I was visiting had an entire Natsume case filled with Nyanko and beautiful figures of almost all the main characters. Even the smallest ones however were just that little bit too pricey for their size and so I had to settle for the photo and the memory. Plus, I already grabbed figures of Natsume and Reiko last time I was in Japan. Fortunately, I did get some really cute Nyanko-Sensei stickers out of a vending machine later in Shibuya and I’m still looking out for an affordable plush Nyanko to join the one I got last year at Supernova.
Anyway, after the shopping was done I had to hop a Shinkansen to Kyoto which meant of course a bento dinner on the train. No photo unfortunately because I was starved and it was delicious so waiting for photography just wasn’t an option.
With my one day in Kyoto, my friend and I hit the major tourist spots. I am going to firmly suggest that if you ever intend to go to the Fushimi Inari Shrine you go early. We arrived there at 7:30 in the morning and it was already difficult to get photos without other people in them. By the time we were finished (just after 12), it was mass chaos at the main shrine with tour groups, school groups and just people clustered everywhere. The only problem with going early is very few of the shops and food booths are open so stop at a convenience store on the way and grab some onigiri to eat on the go. By the time you come back everything will be open and you can grab some tasty skewers, corn, or pretty much anything to eat and then browse the souvenirs.
Also, where comfortable shoes and be ready for a hike. It isn’t a long distance by any means, but the time signs are misleading. When it says ten minutes to the summit what it means is approximately an hour if you stop for a moderate number of photos and if you have usual human stamina and need to take a couple of short stops because of the steps (keep in mind I go hiking for holidays semi-regularly and enjoy it so I’m not really that out of shape though my persistent cough probably was making the stairs a bit harder to take than normal). Then of course there’s the trip back. Also, other tourists are going to stop right in front of you without warning, or do random poses for their own photos and you just kind of have to deal with it. Fortunately the closer to the summit you get the less people there are.
I really loved walking around the shrine and exploring all the side paths and little shops along the way. It was great fun. The one thing that I would actually put as a negative is the persistent announcement over the loud speakers about not making eye-contact with wild boars or monkeys. It is really hard to enjoy a quiet and contemplative moment on a mountain when you have the same message blaring at you in multiple languages pretty much continuously.
I’d still recommend visiting.
After the shrine we hopped the train over to Arashiyama and checked out the bamboo path, a bunch of shrines, lots of tourist shops, the river, a scenic look out, and finally we headed over to the monkey park (oh my god more stairs – I was reminded well and truly that I was not over my cold when I had to stop the third time on this path to catch my breath). Totally worth it though. The monkeys are super cute.
Plus, and this is the real reason I’d recommend it, you get an absolutely brilliant view of Kyoto from the monkey park. Truly gorgeous.
I didn’t go into the cage and feed the monkeys but I did have fun standing above it and watching the other tourists in the cage reaching out with scraps of food and seeing the monkeys crawling over the outside swiping at them. There’s something amusing about the idea of putting the humans in the cage while the monkeys are freely roaming about the outside.
Anyway, after all of that we hit a fairly quiet cafe for dinner. The next morning we decided to splurge a little on breakfast and hit up a buffet at one of the hotels that was on the top ten list of places to eat breakfast in Kyoto. So worth it serving both Japanese and Western food and a huge selection.
Another shinkansen ride back to Tokyo before hitting Shibuya for the afternoon and evening. Of course that means pictures of people scrambling on a crossing. By the way, the Animate in Shibuya actually had more Natsume items than the one in Akihabara. I also picked up some manga volumes in Japanese to do some translation practice with when I have free time (I know, free time isn’t something I come across very often).
We finished the day with a visit to an arcade that is themed like it is from some post-apocalyptic novel in Kawasaki before going for train sushi.
Seriously need more hours in a day and I really need to get rid of this cold because after all of that running around I’m pretty run-down and needed to have a chill out day before I get going again tomorrow. Big plans ahead and plenty more to see.
Hopefully I’ll update in a couple more days and have some more fun moments to share.
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