How to do Japan
|Fell in love with these ladies in Arashiyama Bamboo Forest|
I am an impulsive person, and sometimes my planning suffers from that. But hey, learning by doing, am I right?
One thing I learned from my Japan-trip, that I want to share with you, is: Travel to more than two cities, like travel around, book that Shinkansen or whatever they call it. 'Cause my friend and I didn't and I regretted that. We only travelled to Tokyo and Kyoto (took the bullet train, which was an experience in itself), and I wish we had travelled to Osaka, Kobe, Okinawa and some other cities too. Having said that, this trip was pretty off the hook! And OMG the food!
On one of the first nights in Tokyo we went to a ROBOT SHOW - which was a bit pricey and bad, but we laughed so much, that it was absolutely worth it. We were expecting to see real robots, but mostly it was humans in robot costumes. It was weird and wonderful. I don't want to give away too much in case you decide to do this, but here's a little something from the waiting room. PS. We did not eat the food there...
1. GOLDEN GAI
This is an area composed of narrow alleys, with tons of charming mini bars and eateries. You have to walk around and look before you find the right one. Some of the bars are only for Japanese people, and some are open to foreigners. I would recommend choosing one that doesn't demand a cover charge. We ended up at a tiny, quirky place, where it was easy to talk with people.
Another great thing about Golden Gai is that we stumbled upon a unique Ramen restaurant called Nagi, which seriously had the best Ramen I have ever tasted, and I'm not even a Ramen-girl. Most of the time I don't understand why everyone is so crazy about noodles these days - but I am telling you, this Ramen-place was LIT. The noodles were just fat and al dente, the broth was tasty and for once without pork (which I'm very grateful for since I don't eat pork), and to top it of: A perfectly cooked soft boiled egg.
We had to stand in line in a dark alley outside, because most Ramen shops like this one only has like 8 seats. Bring cash and be prepared to order and pay through a vending machine. Remember it is considered rude (at least that's what I read somewhere) if you don't finish you dish - so don't order the biggest one. The price is the same for a small, medium and large. And yeah, slurping noises are considered a positive thing, it means you are enjoying the food. Slurp slurp!
|Adress: Shinjuku Golden-gai (G2 street) 2F,1-1-10, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo|
2. KINKAKU-JI (GOLDEN PAVILION)
OK, so there is more than one awesome temple in Japan, like the Buddhist temple Goutokuji in Tokyo, which is known to be the legendary birthplace of the maneki-neko aka. lucky beckoning cats (we took sooo many pictures of these cute cats), but If I had to choose just one, it would have to be the Zen temple Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto.
That golden temple (its top two floors are covered entirely in golden leaf) is maybe the most heavenly and divine thing I have ever seen. I thought to myself "if heaven exists, this is probably how it looks", before I was snapped out of my mind because of all the photos that were being taken by all the tourists.
After going through the garden we reached a small tea garden. They had an indoor-ish area as well, where we sat on tatami-mats. Here we had matcha tea and sweets (only 500 yen!).
It was quiet and suddenly I felt very zen. And damn, when I tried the tea, my experience was taken to a whole new level. My friend Sverre and I just looked at each other and were like "Is it just me or is this matcha tea exceptionally good?". We announced it as the best tea ever, but I suspect our state of mind had something to do with it.
When you're staring at a golden temple with tons of fellow tourists, it can be quite intense. So that little break in the tea garden was, as we would say in Norway, gold worth.
PS. I highly recommend Arashiyama Bamboo Forest as well. If you want to avoid tourists (even though you're a tourist yourself, it's so funny how we think we're not tourists like "those other" tourists) - go there early in the morning. Like super early.
3. NINE HOURS HOTEL
When you're doing Japan you might as well go for the full experience. We were stupid enough to only stay in Kyoto for one day and one night - but we were smart enough to book our stay at the Nine hours capsule hotel. Yeah, you heard me, capsule hotel. All of my friends reacted with a: "Oh no, but wasnt't it claustrophobic?".
I'm with you, I don't like small spaces either. But the capsule was actually quite spacious. I could sit up straight and there would still be room between the top of my head and the "ceiling". The room itself was quiet and I felt safe, even though there were a bunch of strangers sleeping there. The price was very reasonable, and I slept really good that night. The enire experience was hella sci-fi, and here we got a taste of that futuristic Japan we had expected to experience at the robot show.
Do it, at least for one night, like we did.
PS. Everyone had to wear uniforms, yet another photo op.