So why Japan?
We heard the food was good and the people were nice. Well…this is the understatement of the year.
The food is incredible. We like to eat and we like to try food from around the world, so as you’ll see from the pictures, we spent a whole lot of time eating.
The people. Of all the places we’ve traveled, hands down Japan wins the award for country with the nicest people. They are the most respectful and genuine people we’ve ever met. They take the time to properly greet you when you walk into a store or restaurant and when you leave, they look you in the eyes, sometimes taking your hand in theirs, say good bye and thank you with a slight bow. You can see the appreciation and genuine thanks in their eyes.
So here’s a snapshot of our Japan vacation.
As we were leaving the airport in Beijing, we ran into our family getting ready to board their flight back home.
Our first morning in Kyoto we woke up to pounding on our door and thought, “drug testing”. Nope, it happened to be the ladies coming to clean our room because it was 11:30am. Ya…we were tired after all the excitement in Beijing.
Most houses in Kyoto are built side by side with very little to no yard. We thought it was cool how people create little zen gardens with the minimal space they have.
That afternoon we took part in a typical Japanese cooking class. We were taught how to use fresh, seasonal ingredients to make six different Japanese dishes: dashi which is a broth that is drunk plain but also used to add flavor to foods, fried tofu, sautéed vegetables, Japanese style risotto, beef roll, and sweet bean pudding.
The next day we took a bullet train to Hiroshima and Miyajima, which is an island just off the coast. Miyajima was one of our favorite places in Japan. Not only was it extremely beautiful, but it had a great shopping street and some amazing food.
We had Okonomiyaki for lunch, which is a Japanese comfort food that they cook right in front of you. It’s a crepe on the bottom with noodles, cabbage, bacon, and a fried egg piled on top. It was delicious! We shared one, a decision we regretted when we finished it off and both wanted more.
But that’s okay because after that we each got a “beef bun”, or at least that’s what we called them…
…And then topped it all off with maple leaf cakes and green tea. Where to begin on the maple leaf cakes. These things are like little bites of heaven. They are like waffle dough with filling inside. We got chocolate and cream filled ones and as if that wasn’t good enough already, they gave us ones hot off the press. The cream ones were amazing!
Told you we like to eat…
Bri made a friend while in Miyajima.
We then visited the Hiroshima museum and the A-bomb dome which is the only building that “survived" the atomic bomb.
Here’s us eating again. This time soba and udon.
The next day we visited Fushimi Inari Shrine which is home to over 10,000 tore gates, which serve as the gateway to the shrine and have been donated by different companies or organizations as a way of giving thanks for their prosperity and in hope of good fortune in the future.
After that we ate again…traditional Kobe beef this time. It was amazing.
Japan is very clean. The public bathrooms were immaculate and the toilets did everything for you; raised and lowered the seat, flushed, even played running water sounds while you were going to the bathroom. They had people cleaning the subways constantly, wiping down benches and vacuuming the stairs.
After asking our tour guide about this he said, “We take pride in our country and respect ours and other people’s belongings. We are taught in school how to clean and are responsible for cleaning the bathrooms and work spaces.”
Our last day in Kyoto was spent doing a calligraphy class and staying in a Ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese Inn.
At the ryokan, our room was laid out as a traditional Japanese house would be. We had a table on tatami mats, which was later moved when it was time to roll out our beds, we had access to a peaceful zen garden, and the shower consisted of small stools with wash bins and a soaking tub. We were given robes to wear and a traditional kaiseki dinner in the evening.
The next morning we took the train to Tokyo and headed straight to Shibuya to see the world’s busiest intersection.
Our last day in Japan, TBS Tokyo took us sightseeing to experience more of Japan’s culture. We got to wear kimonos, participate in a traditional tea ceremony, and Ashton got to use a samurai sword.
We had the best time in Japan and were really sad to leave. Unless you’ve been to Japan, it’s hard to understand how wonderful this country is, and we hope everyone has the opportunity at some point in their life.
Thank you, Japan!