Day 16 - Osaka

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We started the day off right with some Boss Coffee. This was really good cold black coffee from the vending machines.

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Our main goal for the day was to visit Osaka Castle. It was about a 30 minute walk from our Airbnb.

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The grounds surrounding the Castle and the moat were really large. The moat provided a great reflecting pool for the buildings on the top of the walls opposite. The rain came and went during the morning and the weather was hot and humid.

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After touring the Castle we walked to the subway station and took a train to Dotonbori, a shopping area in downtown Osaka along one of the rivers that runs through the city. It’s absolutely packed with shops and people.

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We had heard that Ichiran ramen was really good an the dining experience was unique. We heard right!

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Then we struck gold in our search for the perfect cheesecake! Interestingly, this cheesecake tasted even better once it had cooled off. It was a bit soft and eggy when hot out of the oven. Once cooled though the consistency firmed up and the texture was super creamy. So good!

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There are so many animal themed cafes in Japan. Not just cat cafes, there a dog, owl/bird and best of all hedgehog!

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Next we headed to one of the very large department stores to look for Tokyo 2020 Olympic gear. Jaedan modeled it well I think!

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At this point Tien, Tracey and I we getting pretty tired and we were fighting a cold, so we split up. Caelan, Jaedan, Shelby and Kenzie headed to a place called “Spa World”. <<< You should click on that link.

This place looked amazing and if we were feeling better we would have gone along.

Instead we saw a Spider-Man on a bike. And when we stopped at a local grocery store (not a 7-11) we were blown away by the cost of a bunch of grapes. That’s $30! Wow!

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Bananas were pretty reasonably price, apples were too bad, but grapes, wow. It was actually pretty difficult to find fresh fruits and veggies in Japan. Most of it has to be shipped in which drives up the price and availability. Plenty of meat sticks though!

And that mostly wraps up our trip! All that’s left is a very long day of train and plane travel tomorrow.

I’ll be posting about that day and then I’ll have a post with some overall thoughts about the trip. And a post comparing the $5, $12 and $40 meat sticks. I mean, why not, it turns out that the $40 meat stick was actually worth it!

Day 15 - Osaka

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We traveled from Kyoto to Osaka late in the morning, taking another fast train. It was about a 40 minute trip. One thing I noticed on our travels from Tokyo to Kyoto to Osaka is that there was very little undeveloped land. It was almost like the three cities had grown and merged into one giant megalopolis. Which is incredible to think about. Tokyo itself is the one of largest metropolitan areas in the world with close to 15 million people. Kyoto has 1.5 million people and Osaka’s metropolitan area includes about 19 million people. That’s a lot of people.

We arrived too early to check into our Airbnb so we stowed our bags in lockers at the train station and headed towards the shopping district.

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This area seemed newer and even more built up than downtown Tokyo.

We were on a quest for an “exploding omlete”. Shelby and Kenzie had seen an ad for one and we thought we’d found a restaurant in Osaka, but alas, it was a rice filled omelet. Still really yummy.

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It wasn’t quite what we were looking for. It didn’t have the runny interior and the rice tasted more like Spanish rice. Oh well.

It wasn’t quite what we were looking for. It didn’t have the runny interior and the rice tasted more like Spanish rice. Oh well.

We did stumble on a delicious waffle shop!

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We were also on a quest for a certain cheesecake. This one was good but too eggy.

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We made a stop at Starbucks to buy some “Japan” mugs.

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That’s a lot of Pokémon stickers!

That’s a lot of Pokémon stickers!

Then we headed to the Airbnb. And by this time we were pooped and decided to call it a day.

This is a great idea! And of course some ignorant dude lined up here for the next train. 🙄

This is a great idea! And of course some ignorant dude lined up here for the next train. 🙄

One more day in Osaka tomorrow and then a loooong day of travel home after that.

Day 14 - Kyoto

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The day started off with breakfast from 7-11, of course. I think maybe we were getting tired of 7-11 at this point. But it was the easiest place to get food early in the day.

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Then it was time for more laundry. At least for part of our crew.

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Up next, a walk and a crowded bus ride to our first temple of the day.

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Even the bus system here is super organized and efficient. This indicator tells you exactly where your bus is and when it will arrive.

Even the bus system here is super organized and efficient. This indicator tells you exactly where your bus is and when it will arrive.

The Kinkakujicho (Golden Temple) was so beautiful and serene. I learned that the groundkeepers trim the tree height to match the silhouette of the mountains in the background but cut them lower so that you can always see the mountain range. And the man made lake and islands were perfectly proportioned and manicured.

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Vending machines everywhere even at the temples.

Vending machines everywhere even at the temples.

The tickets to the Golden Temple were works of art themselves.

The tickets to the Golden Temple were works of art themselves.

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Then another crowded bus ride to our second stop, Kiyomizu which also has one of the restored “old roads” which give an idea of what Kyoto looked like hundreds of years ago. We were hungry for lunch by this point and split up to try different types of food.

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This tasted so good. The photos can’t convey how hot and humid it was outside.

This tasted so good. The photos can’t convey how hot and humid it was outside.

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The temple itself was full of beautiful shrines, burning incense and Buddha statues.

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And then off we went again to our third stop! We weren’t kidding around with our sightseeing today!

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This shrine complex in the Fukakusasasayamacho ward called Oinari-San covers an entire mountainside and is famous for the red gates and stone statues.

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This is about 1/3 of the map. It continues up to the top of the mountain.

This is about 1/3 of the map. It continues up to the top of the mountain.

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I tried another meat stick! This one was only $5. Let’s just say it was a $5 meat stick. It didn’t even come close to the quality, taste and texture of the $40 meat stick!

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Thien was enjoying his meat stick and the fact that we found someplace undercover and dry to eat.

Thien was enjoying his meat stick and the fact that we found someplace undercover and dry to eat.

Another cat cafe!

Another cat cafe!

I was pretty tired out at this point. We decided to head into downtown Kyoto again for dinner. This time we walked down an old alleyway called “pontocho” full of shops and restaurants.

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There are some very nicely designed waterways in this part of Kyoto.

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We ended up in the shopping district where several streets are closed to cars and covered with glass roofs and air conditioned. Very fancy!

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That was a big day. We ate dinner at a Tully’s cafe of all places. Tully’s in Japan is more of a full fledged cafe/restaurant. We were so exhausted it was the easiest place to go. I also just forgot to take any more photos on this day. All I could think about was how comfy the bed at at Airbnb was going to feel.😴

Tomorrow we head to Osaka!

Day 13 - Kyoto

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We woke up early in Tokyo and made our way to the JR station to catch a fast train to Kyoto. This wasn’t as fast as the Shinkansen bullet train, it was fast though.

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It was a short walk to our Airbnb. This one had several rooms, two of which were bunk bed style rooms and two had two regular beds. It was pretty roomy and nice to have a bit more privacy.

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Shoes off!

Shoes off!

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This was taken the day we left. Everything was nicely made up when we arrived.

This was taken the day we left. Everything was nicely made up when we arrived.

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The view from the Airbnb

The view from the Airbnb

By this time we were hungry for lunch as our 7-11 breakfast only could carry us so far into the day. We found a small neighborhood sushi restaurant a few blocks away. This was really authentic Japanese style dining. This was not a tourist place. The hostess and chef didn’t speak English. Good thing we had Google translate. It helped us at least get an idea of what was on the menu. We ordered family style and also tried some house recommended sake. The chef was super nice and was happy for me to take a photo. I asked permission first.

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Then we took the metro to the Tenryu-ji temple. It really started raining at this point. The walk to the temple was filled with cute little shops.

I had some emergency ponchos…

I had some emergency ponchos…

… and we quickly bought more umbrellas for everyone.

… and we quickly bought more umbrellas for everyone.

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So many different kinds of vending machines. These capsule machines were filled with cute toys and trinkets.

So many different kinds of vending machines. These capsule machines were filled with cute toys and trinkets.

This Prius is considered a smaller car in the United States but in Japan it looked big compared to most other cars.

This Prius is considered a smaller car in the United States but in Japan it looked big compared to most other cars.

So much rain

So much rain

The temple was beautiful.

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As was the bamboo forest near the temple.

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Our entire traveling group in Japan

Our entire traveling group in Japan

We had originally planned to see another temple but it was already 5:00 o’clock and the temples generally close around that time, so we decided to take a cute one car train into Kyoto for dinner.

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Some of us, including me, were feeling pretty wiped out by this point in the day.

Some of us, including me, were feeling pretty wiped out by this point in the day.

Dinner consisted of ramen at a restaurant in a big department store food court, which is very swanky compared to food courts in the United States.

Ramen Nobnaga  was very good

Ramen Nobnaga was very good

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Next we had to figure out how to get back to the Airbnb. The boys were all gung-ho to walk the 30 minutes back. We tried to figure out the bus route then gave up and took a taxi. It was a bit like an Amazing Race episode. Which team would get back first?!? Turns out we all arrived about the same time. Okay, maybe the boys beat us by a half minute!

Tomorrow, more temples and food in Kyoto!

Real-time Update - Saturday, August 31 at 12:43 pM (local time Japan)

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The last day of our trip has arrived. 

It’s been a wonderful time away and I’m also ready to be home.

We are on the Shinkansen or bullet train from Osaka headed to the airport in Narita.

We have about 4 hours of train travel and then a 10 hour flight. Lots of travel today.

The Shinkansen is spectacular. We’ve hit top speeds of around 170 mph. 

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I’ll be spending the next few days recovering, adjusting to the time change and updating the blog up with all the events from our last few days in Japan.