My dad was given the opportunity to go to Tokyo, Japan through a business conference held by an international research organization. Seeing this opportunity as a sign, my entire family decided on visiting Japan for the first time.
The flight was smooth and went without a hitch, but considering the time spent waiting in the airport and the 12 hour flight, plus the 14 hour time zone difference, we did not reach Narita International Airport until 5 pm the next day. Talk about a day flying by. After arriving, we immediately left for our hotel.
It's day two in Japan and the first day of sightseeing in Tokyo, and our objective was to find sushi. We headed to the Tsukiji Fish Market, the world's largest fish and seafood market. The market is busiest from 5:30 to 8:00 am, so us arriving later meant missing out on the auctioning and trading. But the sushi was unaffected and still tasted amazing. The remainder of the day was spent aimlessly walking around Akihabara and Shinjuku, exploring various shops and restaurants.
On day three, we set off to see Mt. Fuji from one the best locations possible in Japan: Hakone. We took the Romancecar to Hakone Yumoto. There, we took the railway to the Hakone Ropeway, which also doubled as a leisurely ride through Hakone's beautiful scenery. At the end of the ride, we switched to the Hakone Ropeway, an aerial lift that carried us across a set of valleys and mountains. At the last stop, a “pirate” ship was was waiting for tourists to take them across Lake Ashi. However, rain was starting to come down, and by the end of the boat ride, the rain became a downpour. Even the buses were having difficulty getting around Hakone, forcing us to end the trip prematurely. Unfortunately, we were unable to see Mt. Fuji.
Day four started off with checking out of our hotel and visiting the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Only the Imperial East Garden was open to the public that day, so we leisurely strolled through the beautiful gardens. In the afternoon, we took our reserved Shinkansen tickets and boarded the fastest train, Nozomi, headed towards Osaka.
Day five began with a visit to Osaka Castle and learning a little about its history. The castle has been reconstructed into a museum, showing the history of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Later, for lunch we searched for a restaurant that would serve puffer fish sashimi, which was not as difficult as I thought. Surprisingly, puffer fish is almost tasteless, but is expensive.
On day six we headed to Kyoto to see the infamous Kinkakuji, a Zen temple whose top floors are completely covered in gold. Of course, we couldn't get too close to the temple, so we walked on to the temple garden. The atmosphere of the garden was overwhelmingly placid.
The day before returning home was spent in Kobe, where we traveled to Kobe Harborland to eat some legendary Kobe beef. The regional specialty cost us a lot of money for three small pieces, but its wonderful taste could not be denied. However, the tiny piece of beef was not enough to fill my stomach. So in search of more food, we left the harbor. In front of a shopping mall, a street dancing competition was being held, so we stayed to watch it. Amazingly, an eight year old boy won the dance off, beating all older competitors. What an amazing end to the trip. However there's so much more to see in Japan that I would not mind coming back again.
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