Japan is a country of superlatives: most civilized, most homogenous, best toileted, most harmonious*, cleanest, most wastefully packaged, and most carnivorous country we’ve seen so far.
Here’s the play-by-play of where we were: (Populated galleries in red, the rest coming soon.)
Osaka, our first stop in Japan: including the streets thereof, an awesome aquarium (whale sharks!) and a fun museum that recreates the traditional village version of Old Osaka, but set inside a modern high-rise. We also spent some time with the Sumo wrestlers, including a morning practice session and the Grand Championship tournament the next day. Finally, we took an intense day-trip to Hiroshima, only 90 minutes away on by bullet train.
Kyoto, including the streets thereof, a ramen-making class, the Samurai and Ninja Museum, a traditional Matcha tea service we did while clad in kimono, a tour we took of the Gion District and Nijo Castle, a visit to the Monkey Forest and Bamboo Grove, the incredible Fushimi-Inari shrine, and a peaceful trip along the Philosopher’s Walk, where the tranquility and the shrines really get you thinking the deep thoughts, like, if it’s so cold outside, how are these women walking around town in kimono and flip flops?
Tokyo: Ohmigod, Tokyo! Harajuku, a Tokyoverload™ on all the senses, and its nearby antidote, Yoyogi park and its peaceful, romantic Meiji Shrine, plus TeamLab Planets (an immersive art experience, literally), and the Mori building, with its SkyView terrace and modern art museum. Oh, and some karaoke.
Mt. Fuji, specifically the area around Lake Kawaguchi. It’s a lovely area, a bit like Switzerland, which made it the obvious place to build a crazy museum of European wind-up toys and musical instruments. It’s also home to a gallery housing the most beautiful collection of hand-painted art kimonos in the world (see, another superlative!). Add some budding flora, several shinto shrines, a pinch more Mt. Fuji, mix and enjoy.
*Like, agressively so. Not necessarily a bad thing—IMHO the USA could use a good dose of self discipline. What do you think? Should we start papering the streets of ‘Murica with signs like these?
Bonus: I figured out how to add captions to my photo galleries, so click around for some extra context.