My Top 5 Tokyo District’s you should know

Takeshita Street of Harajuku – Instagram

5. Harajuku / Omotesando

Harajuku is the most fashionable place to be. The place, where young Japanese designers open up their little shops, and fashionistas meet up for the Fashion Walk. If you’ve ever heard of “Kawaii“, this is where the Kawaii culture is beeing embraced to the fullest. (Harajuku is home to the Kawaii Monster Café for a good reason)

The “Takeshita Dori” – Takeshita Street is a shop filled little street right in front of the Harajuku station. If you pass the street, you will soon arrive in Omotesando. A quiet bigger street with lots of Luxury Brands at the main street, but if you just walk through side passages & through the neighbourhoods, you can explore many little shops. Take the chance to get a piece there, because it probably exists only once! (Takeshita see above!)

Of course there are many other shops like H&M etc. Definitely take a look at one of many thrift shops. Japanese take very good care of their clothes, they might look like they were never worn! And if you’re lucky, you’ll even find a cheap, second-hand Dior Dress! (Honestly, you can!)

If you’re done shopping and need to relax, you can take a break in one of many Cat Cafés. In case you’re not into cats, you can try the Dog, Hedgehog, Bunny or Owl Café (& Many more).

Western looking Ginza

4. Ginza

Ginza is a place to go, if you have money – there are lots of department & foreign luxury brand stores, luxury restaurants and car shops (more like car ‘showrooms‘). If you don’t like that “high fashion”-thing like I do, I’d still recommend you to go! In some department stores, you can go up to the rooftop and have a crazy amazing view over Tokyo, without having to buy something. I even found a shrine once on top of a building! (Ginza SIX GARDEN)

You can also find some very luxurious Japanese Brands, decoration their stores in a very beautiful traditional Japanese way.

Akihabara – (source my instagram)

3. Akihabara

Anime fans may already know this place – Akihabara is the Anime – and electronic district of Tokyo. You can find all the nerdy stuff here. If you’re a gamer, this is also the place to go. There is a huge amount of electronic stores, enough to build your own computer! And also, of course anime & manga stores and even a couple of cosplay stores.

The famous Maid Café’s which are always a big thing in TV documentarys about how crazy Japan is, this is where they are located. If you’re looking for a culture shock, definitely come here! (I’m a huge Anime fan, so this was more like heaven to me than anything near a “shock”)

Shinjuku (pic source my instagram)

2. Shinjuku

My actual favorite district of Tokyo since it has a little bit of everything. But especially known for it’s nightlife and entertainment. Lots of karaoke bars, clubs, restaurants and bars. People will tell women to “Take Care” there at night, since there are many outgoing people. But it’s also a nice place for shopping, during the daytime. The station is said to be the biggest train station in Japan.

I always recommend this district, if someone would ask me where to stay in Tokyo. Since the station is so big, you have many entrances to enter all around the station and of course very good train connections. Furthermore, there are many shops that are open 24/7, good restaurants and a shopping district, and it’s all close to the station.

The Robot Restaurant (source Wise.travel)

One famous restaurant around the area is The Robot Restaurant. You can pre-order the tickets, or just go there and ask for availability in front of it, since it’s more like a ‘Robot Show’ than a restaurant.

Besides the nightlife (Kabukicho area), Shinjuku also offers a skyscraper area, including the Metropolitan Government Building. A nice place to have a free & nice view over Tokyo. There’s an elevator bringing you to the observation deck on the 45th floor – for free!

1. Shibuya

SHIBUYA CROSSING

Shibuya is probably one of Tokyo’s most well known districts and home to the infamous Shibuya Crossing. The crossing is known to be the busiest crossing in the world, with over 2.4 Million people crossing this street every day. It is also a famous Movie Scenery spot (such as seen in “Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift“, “Lost in Translation“, “Resident Evil“. The crossing, right at the “Hachiko Exit” of the station, is surrounded by big colorful screens, which look amazing day & night.

Shibuya Scramble, with view on the famous shopping center “Shibuya 109” (Pic Source)

Shibuya is also a nice spot for shopping and many restaurants. Especially theme resaurants or theme café’s with extravagant interiors are located in this area. There are also a couple of night clubs around.

You probably saw the movie, or know the true story of the dog Hachiko, who waited at the station everyday, even after his owner has passed away. That’s right, this is the station where that famous dog has waited. They made a tribute in form of a Statue of Hachiko at the station, make sure to not miss it!

Kyoto’s beautiful Autumn Leaves – 京都 の 紅葉

Japan has many seasons, probably more than other countries. The Japanese love to celebrate, there are many national holidays during the year, in compensation for the only 1 week of holiday they get.

While everybody now thinks of the Sakura Season, especially beautiful as well is the Koyo 紅葉 in Kyoto 京都. Kyoto 京都, with it’s majestic temples surrounded by woods, makes a stunning image. When you arrive at the train station to the temple area, there is a “Leaf” schedule showing which color the leaves have at which temple.

I visited Kyoto 京都 at the middle/end of November to see those beautiful sceneries.

These are some of the temples I’ve visited during my Koyo 紅葉 journey:
(You’ll also find my video at the end of this article, If you’re interested)

Kyoto in Autumn leaves (Koyo) 2017 京都 の 紅葉

Tenryu-ji Temple

 

Tofukuji Temple

 

Enko-Ji

 

Kodai-ji Temple

everything is working out-15

Tanzen-ji Temple

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Last but not least, the above promised video of the trip:

Enoshima 江の島 & Kamakura 鎌倉市, Holiday feeling near Tokyo 東京

My 6 months in Japan have passed so fast & I’m reflecting all the memories I made so far. There’s many ways to keep precious memories of your travel adventures, for example a travel diary, like my friend used to do it! She’s reflecting her days in a diary where she writes down every single day of her journey.

I’m a lazy person so I’d skip a lot of days so instead, I take a loooooot of pictures & videos which I cut into one single Video (If I find the time, of course)

Kamakura 鎌倉市

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Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Kamakura 鎌倉市 is very lovely city at the seaside, south of Tokyo 東京. It’s one of myfavorite places to escape the busy city life of Tokyo 東京 & it’s not even that far away! Especially in summer, you won’t believe to find such a beautiful beach just so close to Tokyo City. Also, if you’re an Anime fan you may know some places, as Kamakura 鎌倉市 is often used in Mangas/Animes  (Elfen Lied, Fukumenkei Noise, Gokukoku no Brynhildr, etc.).

Kamakura also has a lot of very beautiful Shrines, & make sure to stroll around some neighborhoods as the houses there are really pretty.

 

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Bamboo Forest in Kamakura, Hokokuji Temple

Enoshima 江の島

Enoshima 江の島 is an island close to Japan’s coast. It is connected to the land with

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Sunset View from Enoshima

a bridge, from Kamakura 鎌倉市. Once in Kamakura 鎌倉市, you can easily go to Enoshima Station by train (Enoshima Electric Railway “Enoden”) & walk from there. This train is actually pretty famous during Summer time, as the Hydrangea are blooming & it drives right through some beautiful sceneries. The Island is very beautiful & full of nature, so

bring your camera to take some amazing photos!

 

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Walkthrough path on Enoshima

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Cute flower path on Enoshima (Good Photo Spot 😉 )

If you want to see more of Kamakura 鎌倉市 & Enoshima 江の島, check out my short Travel Video on YouTube! As I mentioned before, I like to keep memories in form of Videos 🙂

8 things you should know before going to Japan

If you are about to travel to this crazy country, you should know a few things before getting infected by a culture shock!

Japanese people can’t say “no”

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somehow 

Well, that’s not bad right? But it is, when you are lost & ask strangers for the direction. Japanese can’t lose their faces and say “I don’t know”. They  will just tell you “eeh.. I thinks it’s this way” even though they have no idea. You should at least ask 3 people, or visit a local police cabin right away. Those police stations are simply there to help you if you’re lost or something like that, as Japans criminality is pretty low.

If you meet someone important, bow down!

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Short explanation

 

The deeper you bow, the more respect you show. This would be appreciated if you’re about to meet someone importent, like the boss of a company or a priest.

 

 

Bring cash instead of a credit card!

You should exchange your money at the airport before you go somewhere. Even though Japan is such a futuristic country, it’s also very traditional. So in most stores, you pay with cash (they also prefer if you give them just the right amount of money). There are a lot if ATM’s so don’t worry if you forget to exchange at the airport.

Don’t leave tips!

Seriously, in Japan it’s like you’d tell them they’d need money. Not even to the taxi driver! Even though the waitress is extremely friendly and helpful, it’s their culture, they don’t want anything in exchange. I’ve even heard that a taxi driver ran after some people just to give them back their money.

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an example

“Modern” toilets?

Everybody knows that the Japanese have the most crazy toilets; some play music, some of them even talk to you, but not everywhere! If you go to a public toilet, be aware to find only a hole on the ground. Japan, futuristic & traditional.

 

Enjoy going by train as a tourist!

There’s a cheap train ticket, only available for tourists! It’s the Japan Rail Pass! You can choose the regions (for example the main island “Honshu“) and the duration (1-2 weeks) and you pay a small amount of money (depending, 300-400$) and you drive train during these weeks! It’s pretty useful, trust me. Check it out on: www.japanrailpass.net

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Looks like a passport

The adapter plug!

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looks like this

This is a common thing to be forgotten when travelling to another country! Just go to a electric store in your country and ask for an adapter plug for Japan. If you forget to (like I did) there are adapters available in most hotels, don’t worry.

Avoid Summer in Japan

Summer in Japan is veeeery hot. And wet. That’s because the Taifun season takes place in Summer. Even though it’s hot, the air-condioning is going crazy, so watch out of getting a cold. Check out the weather before you go.

super-taifun-neoguri-rast-auf-japan-zu

Source “T-Online”

Well, I hope there few things have been helpful for you to plan your trip to Japan. Don’t worry, it’s just nice to know, but If you forget one of those things, they will just kindly remind you!

Sabrina
(all pictures in this post belong to their owners & are not mine)

Some unnecessary knowledge about Japan

Japan can be a strange country sometimes, but that’s one more reason I love it so much! I’ve researched some of my favorite facts about this extraordinary place on earth to share them with you:

You can buy isles in Japan!
They may not be cheap or too big but hey, an isle in Japan! If you are interested anyway, go check out www.aqua-styles.com/island_japan.html

The biggest crossing in the world
is of course, the famous Shibuya Crossing! Everytime the light goes green, up to 15’000 people are crossing the street!

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The Shibuya crossing from above, right next to the Shibuya train station.

Oshiya – Pushing people for a living? 
Maybe you’ve already seen it on TV or social media; a man in uniform, that pushes people into a full train – and that’s his job! Well, what else do you expect in a 40 million people city at rush hour? (Ps. Oshiyas exist since 1955)

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A very old picture of Oshiyas, pushing commutes into the train!

Hikikomori?
Japanese people, mostly young people, that live in their room. Only their room. For months or worse – even years! Yes, like the nerds in the movies that only watch Animes & play video games the whole day, but that’s not funny at all! They are overwhelmed by the tough Japanese society. Even the parents are ashamed to have a Hikikomori in their family, so they don’t talkabout it. Because of that reason, many Hikikomoris don’t get the help they’d need.

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Illustration of a Hikikomori

Fell asleep at work? Totally OK in Japan!

inemuri-the-japanese-nap

“He must have been working hard”


Inemuri – that’s how they call it. Which means being awake physically but asleep in mind. There are any reasons: The Japanese have very long working hours & u
sually long trips to work, so there’s no time for sleep. So if you sleep at work, your colleagues will think “he must have been working very hard”

 

What does the chicken say?
In Japan, they use animal sounds (like meow or bark) for some animals, we wouldn’t even guess! some examples:

Cat/Neko                                    “Nya” (kinda accurate)
Dog/Inu                                      “Wan Wan” (hmm)
Chicken/Niwatori                     “kokekokko” (I mean, what?)
Kickup/Kakkou                         “ho hokekyo”    (say it loud!)
Horse/Uma                                 “hihiin“(depends on the pronunciation, I guess)
Monkey/Saru                             “kikii“(Never, ever heard a monkey speak)

Of course there are many more strange things about Japan, but for now this must be enough. Stay tuned for more soon!

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“KOKEKOKKO !!”

All pictures in this posts are not mine and belong to their creators

Fun day at Universal Studios Japan! (USJ)

(Scroll down for the German part – Runter scrollen für den deutschen Teil)

The first thing, that my letter friend Mayo san and me did when we met, was going to the Universal Studios in Ōsaka 大阪市.

There’s this story coming to my mind, every time I think of that day at the Universal Studios with Mayo san. Let me tell it to you;

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Glad to have my umbrella back!

I brought my umbrella that rainy day, like many other people. It was quite annoying to carry so I wanted to leave it in a locker. Unfortunately, my umbrella wouldn’t fit into the lockers they had at the Universal Studios, so I just left it in a corner nearby. I’ve heard somewhere, that Japanese people are very honest in that case & and wouldn’t steal. At the end of the day, Mayo san & me were so curious if my umbrella would still be there. When we walked around the corner, there were like 3 more umbrellas laying next to mine!

 

Anyway, let’s get to the USJ part.

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Characters of the Anime “Attack on Titan”

Japan is the country of Anime & Manga, that’s why they got plenty of Anime parts in their Universal Studios Park. Like Evangelion Neon Genesis & Attack on Titan! (which was the reason why I, as an Anime fan, wanted to go there)

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Mayo san & Me being eaten by a Titan

BUT! They have a Harry Potter section in the park as well, which you can enter after paying a little extra fee. It’s totally worth it! ‘Cause they’ve recreated the Hogwarts Castle and guess what’s inside?

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Hogwarts Roller Coaster in Universal Studios Japan

A 4D cinema-roller coaster! So you sit in a cinema chair 4D roller coaster, looking at a 3D sc
reen while this machine even changes rooms during the ride! You’re in the perspective of Harry Potter himself, flying through Hogwarts and it’s famous places. It seemed so real that you forget everything around yourself and really feel like being inside!

 

 

 

 

I feel like going there again so badly while writing this…

————German Part —————–Deutscher Teil———————–

Das Erste was meine Brieffreundin Mayo san und ich getan haben, als wir uns trafen, war ins Universal Studios in Ōsaka 大阪市 gehen.

Da ist diese Geschichte, die mir jedes mal einfällt, wenn ich an den Tag mit Mayo san im Universal Studios denke. Lasst es mich euch erzählen;

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Froh meinen Schirm zurück zu haben

Wie viele andere auch, hatte ich an diesem regnerischen Tag meinen Schirm dabei. Weil es ziemlich nervig war, diesen mit mir herumzutragen, wollte ich ihn in einen der Schliessfächer, welche sie im Universal Studios hatten, unterbringen. Leider passte mein Schirm da aber nicht hinein. Daher habe ich ihn einfach in die nächste Ecke gelegt. Ich habe mal gehört, dass Japaner sehr ehrlich sind in dieser Hinsicht & nicht stehlen würden. Am Ende des Tages haben Mayo san und ich neugierig, ob mein Schirm noch da ist. Als wir um die Ecke abbogen, lagen schon etwa 3 weitere Schirme da!

 

Wie auch immer, kommen wir zum USJ-Teil.

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Charaktere des Animes “Attack on Titan”

Japan ist das Land des Anime & Manga, deswegen haben sie auch einige Anime-Bereiche in ihrem Universal Studios Park. Wie zum Beispiel Evangelion Neon Genesis & Attack on Titan! (Was auch der Grund ist, warum ich, als Anime Fan, dahin wollte)

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Mayo san & ich werden von einem Titan gegessen

ABER! Sie haben ebenfalls einen Harry Potter Bereich, welchen man nach einem kleinen Aufschlag betreten darf. Es ist es aber auf jeden Fall wert! Denn die Japaner haben das Schloss Hogwarts nachgebaut, und ratet mal was es da drinnen gibt?

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Hogwarts Achterbahn im Universal Studios Japan

Eine 4D Kino-Achterbahn! Da sitzt man in einem 4D Kinosessel/Achterbahnwagen auf die 3D Leinwand schauend, welcher sogar während der Fahrt den Raum wechselt! Man ist in der Perspektive von Harry Potter selbst, welcher durch Hogwarts und all seine bekannten Orte fliegt. Es wirkte so echt, dass man alles um einen vergisst und es einem so vorkommt, als wär man wirklich mittendrin!

 

 

 

Während ich das hier schriebe, bekomme ich stark das Bedürfnis wieder dorthin zu gehen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Cafés in Japan! (Cats, Bunnies, Owls & Reptiles!)

(I’ve decided to do a German translation as well – see below)

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Small Rabbit Café in Shibuya, Tokyo

Japan is not the biggest country, but one of the most populated on earth. With such a minimum of space, it’s getting tight for living room, especially in big cities like Tokyo. Many Japanese people can’t afford to own pets or even have no space for them. But there’s a solution for this problem: Animal Cafés!

 

 

 

 

There are Cat, Bunny, Owl and even Reptile Cafés in Japan! Relaxing and drinking a cup of or coffee while petting 3 cats, what else could you want?

On my trip to Japan in 2015, I’ve been visiting Owl, Cat and Bunny Cafés. I liked the Owl Café the most, they had the most space for the animals & even closed the Café from time to time due to “Animal Breaks”.

 

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Very small Cat Café, right next to the Bunny Café

 

 

(Ich habe mich entschieden den Blog auch auf Deutsch zu führen)

Japan ist zwar nicht das grösste Land, aber eines der meistbevölkerten der Welt. Bei so wenig Platz wird es immer enger mit dem Wohnraum, vor allem in Grossstädten wie in Tokio. Sehr viele Japaner können sich deshalb keine Haustiere leisten geschweige denn , haben Platz dafür. Doch dafür gibt es eine Lösung: Tiercafés!

Katzen, Hasen, Eulen und sogar Reptilien Cafés gibt es! Gemütlich einen Tee oder Café trinken, und nebenbei mit 3 Katzen spielen, was will man mehr?

Bei meinem Japan Trip im April 2015, habe ich ein Eulen, Katzen und Hasen Café besucht. Das Eulen Café mochte ich am meisten, die Tiere dort haben viel Platz und das Café wird auch mal wegen “Tierpausen” geschlossen.

When the sun goes down in Tokyo

If you want to see the city view of Tokyo from above for free, (not like Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree) then your option is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building!

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building has a height of 243 meters. If you enter the building, go to the elevators – there’s an extra elevator that only goes to floor 45,which is free of charge!

You can look out of the windows and enjoy the view of beautiful Tokyo. There are even gift stores and Cafes! So amazing, I wish I’d have spent more time there.

Unfortunately, there were some clouds at the horizon, orherwise I would have spotted Mount Fuji!

 

「The Japanese Hospitality 日本のお持て成し」

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Shinjuku, Tokyo

You sure may have heard, that the Japanese hospitality is pretty warm. They love to show foreigners their country and are very proud of it.

I can confirm and the reason I can, is my letterfriend. I actually stayed in Tokyo 東京, but she lives in Kōbe 神戸(about 3 hours distance). Anyway, I travelled with the bullet train (Shinkansen 新幹線) from Tokyo to Kōbe. She waited at the Shin Osaka train station for me, and we went to her parent’s apartment together. Her parents were already excited to meet me, they even made a “Welcome to Japan, Sabrina” cake for me! I did’nt expect something like this!

I could spend the night there, it’s been such a dream to sleepover at a real Japanese family. The next morning, Mayo san’s (my letterfriend) mother made us some Onigiri. What a feeling, sitting at the table with a Japanese family, feets under the Kotatsu 炬燵 (low, wooden table frame covered by a futon or heavy blanket, upon which a table top sits. Underneath is a heat source which keeps you warm) and biting in to a still warm Onigiri おにぎり.

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Rikscha ride through Gion, the Geisha town in Kyōto 

We spent some days together, she showed me the best spots around Kyōto and even visited the Universal Studio Japan (USJ) together with me. During my stay in Japan, i had the best time while traveling with Mayo san. It’s so much easier to travel and enjoy, when you are with someone that speaks the language, in a country where not everyone speaks english.

On my last day, I could experience the Japanese hospitality one last time for my stay. My flight back home was in the morning. I had to take the shuttle from Shinjuku Station 新宿区駅 to the airport. When I arrived at the Shinjuku Station, the shuttle was already full. Luckily, I was early enough to wait for the next one. I thought “hey, I should go to a Japanese supermarket for one last time!” So I started looking for a Family Mart, Seven Eleven or Lawson. When I found one, there was a little stair to reach the store. As you can imagine, my suitcase was pretty heavy so I could’nt lift it up those stairs. On behalf of the low criminality rate in Japan, i thought I’ll just leave it outside for a min. Before I entered the store, i picked my wallet and sorted out my last coins… So, a young, 18 years old girl, no make up & hair done, wearing a training suit and holding a suitcase and looking for her last coins. Must have looked funny, anyway a Japanese lady walked out of the store, holding for a second, then walked away. But she came back and gave me a piece of bread with two hands (respectfully). I took it, also with 2 hands and whispered “Arigato Gozaimasu!”. As fast as she came, the fast she’s gone. This story still makes me smile, whenever I think of it!

Sorry for that long post, here’s a picture of my Mayo san & me in Kimonos.

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My letter friend Mayo san & me in Kimonos

「One day at the Fushimi Inari Shrine 伏見稲荷大社」

I spent some days at the house of my letterfriend Mayo san, in Kōbe 神戸. She made up a little plan to show me the culture of Japan, but it was a surprise. We woke up early in the morning to catch the train to Kyoto 京都. In the evening, after spending the day in Kyoto, our next destination was the “Fushimi Inari Shrine”.
The final stations name was “Inari” 稲荷. We walked out of this little train station and the entrance of the shrine was just in front of us! I was surprised how small this little district was, even though this shrine is so famous.

Mayo san booked a hotel near the shrine, so we could visit it the next day. I think it’s a japanese thing, she booked 2 rooms even though we were only 2 persons. But for me, it was Ok 🙂

The next morning, we finally headed out to the shrine. There were many statues of foxes “kitsune” 狐, which symbolize a “Kami 神” – a god.
While walking upstairs, there was a group of school girls that were watching me. As soon as I got closer to them, they asked me if I want to take a photo with them (if you’re a foreigner in Japan, this will happen to you pretty often)

Walking through those red “Tōris 鳥居”, is really a nice & calming thing. It looks so cool, and sometimes you get to a crossing where you have to choose which way to go, (it doesn’t matter which one you choose, all ways go to the top) some are faster, some take longer.

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One time, we reached a beautiful place where you get out of the tōri way and see some shrines. Then the tōri continue.

 

At the end we walked back down a little street next to the tōris.

 

 

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We spotted an old lady, selling something to eat, so we got a little hungry. When we got closer, I recognized that she was selling Mochi 餅! Mochi are little rice cakes, that usually are gummy on the outside and soft on the inside.

 

The Mimg_3100ochis had rosish color, so I could imagine what kind of taste they had – Sakura さくら!(Japanese cherry blossom) There were only 2 left so of course we took this chance and enjoyed the end of this day with a little bite of Sakura Mochi ( ^ω^ )