Asia 2009: Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe)

I’ve been to Japan once before with a friend in 2006. It was a fun experience and though neither of us spoke Japanese, it wasn’t too hard to get around since a lot of people understand English though they are usually shy to speak it. This time around I had a Japanese speaker with me so there were definitely less blank stares, “uh…”‘s and “ano…”‘s.

Yuian in Shinjuku Tokyo

On the first night we ate at Yuian, an upscale izakaya on the 52rd floor of a building in Shinjuku featuring great views from large glass walls. You know you’re in for a treat when you arrive and there are people stumbling out drunk.

Sake at Yuian

If you’re not familiar with izakayas, they’re restaurants that serve small dishes to share and eat while drinking with friends. I don’t remember what we ate here exactly but I do remember a few rounds of beer and sake.

bakery below department store

A lot of department stores in Tokyo have underground food areas with really great food. I didn’t try them but this bakery had some pretty cakes.

gundam statue

We had a chance to check out the life-sized Gundam statue before it was torn down. Even though it was so huge we had trouble finding it; we barely saw it’s head sticking out from the trees. Apparently Kyoto is going to one-up Tokyo with a life-sized statue of another famous anime robo.

tsukiji fish market

We went to the Tsukiji fish market which is the largest fish market in the world. Let me tell you that the vendors here are definitely not happy to see you. Everyone here has a “get lost” attitude and it’s understandable; they’re busy and you’re in the way. It’s in all the guide books but I don’t suggest going.

Temple in Kobe

Japan has a lot of temples and shrines to see but last time I was in Japan I saw a lot and after a while they all look the same. We ran into this one accidentally while exploring Kobe.

Hanshin Tigers Game

While in Osaka, we watched the Hanshin Tigers play at home.

Yakiniku in Kobe

All you can eat yakiniku is always nice. We had 90 minutes to stuff our faces; I was ready to burst at 60 minutes.

We covered 4 cities in 6 days which is definitely not enough time; even worse, we caught the flu two days in. However, we had all been to Japan previously so we were ready to move on to Viet Nam. Good bye, Japan.

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