Kyoto

We thought we were going to love Kyoto from the moment we stepped off the train, but it took us a bit to get used to how different it was from Tokyo. The first thing we noticed was that since it’s an older city the trains weren’t as quick to get to the train station as they were in Tokyo. Since we got used to everything being quick in Tokyo it was hard to get used to waiting. Another thing was that at night (around 8ish I’d say) we had nothing else to do but go back to our Airbnb. We are night owls and love going out at night, so that was really disappointing. We do, however, want to give Kyoto another try because we just felt like we didn’t really explore much, especially since it was our first ever trip to Japan so we wanted to stick to what we had researched and didn’t venture out.

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Before I go on, when arriving at the station in Kyoto I decided to use the bathroom and it was surely an experience! I knew I was in the women’s bathroom for sure because when I arrived there was a long line of women waiting. When I finally got to the beginning of the line I saw what looked like a urinal and thought it looked weird just there at the end of the bathroom hall. If anyone knows what it’s for please share because I’d love to know! When I made it into a stall I noticed there was no “toilet” and I had to squat to pee (thank goodness I didn’t have to go for something else :O).

When we got to our Airbnb we saw many foreigners coming in and out of the building and it looked like it was going through renovations. When we got to our apartment the guy was just finishing up with cleaning and let us in to leave our bags. We really liked how clean he’d left it and we were also impressed by how big it was because we had heard about many apartments being pretty small.

Click here to go to this Airbnb’s page!

 

Our first day we decided to walk around our neighborhood and find a good place to eat. We found a really hippy/cool/chill cafe a few blocks from our Airbnb and decided to check it out. It turned out to be our favorite breakfast/brunch place we ate at on our whole trip. The owner was such a cool guy and our waiter was so sweet and attentive. We later found them on Instagram by the name globe_mountain_coffee (go follow now!).

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Best pancakes ever!

 

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After breakfast, the first day, we decided to visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. I was so excited to see it in person. When we got there it was packed with people, something that didn’t even cross my mind. I don’t know why I expected it to be less crowded, but I was really bummed to see that many people at the entrance. Later, as we got closer to the top, the crowd of people was less and less. I noticed why that was rather quickly. We had to walk up so many steps to get to the top, but it was completely worth it because not only was the view amazing but there were not that many people and we were able to get some really cool shots.

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This place was truly magical
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Good luck fox charms

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The second day in Kyoto we went to the Bamboo Forest. This time there was no escaping the crowds though. The road through the forest was really not that long, so there was a lot of people and not as many spots to take nice shots without people’s head in the way. On the bright side, we got to see two geishas/maikos (not sure which one, but probably maikos) walking into the forest right before people started walking their way. We were able to take one awesome shot with no one in the background and that was the best part for me. We had seen girls dressed up like a geisha/maiko, but never with their face painted, so this was so nice to see some with the white on their face. I can’t be certain that they were “real” because although they looked like they were in a hurry and not really willing to stop for pictures, like most tourists that dress up as them do, they did have a few things that made me question their realness. One of them being the fact that “real” geisha/maiko tend to stay away from the crowds, which would slow them down to get to work and the bamboo forest is definitely a crowded place. Either way, I was delighted to see 2 and in such a pretty area.

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Bamboo forest

 

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Geishas/Maikos in the Bamboo forest

 

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Ablutions fountain
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Messenger Fox
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Foo dog/Guardian dog

 

At night, the first night we went to a really nice Japanese style restaurant (a sit down on the floor type). I have been used to sitting “Indian style” or “W-sitting” on the floor since I was a kid, so it was hard for me to understand why my husband was having such a hard time with it. I couldn’t stop laughing at him constantly trying to get into a comfy position. I felt really bad when I saw it impossible for him to do. He definitely wanted the experience but said this would be the last time because he could just not enjoy his food being so uncomfortable. Anyways, this first restaurant was a hole in the wall little place we found just walking around our neighborhood. We actually didn’t even notice it was a restaurant until we looked a second time and they had like an outdoor menu. Everything was in Japanese, but nothing a little basic Japanese from my husband and of course google couldn’t fix. We had a little bit of a struggle giving our order, but the Japanese are willing to help as long as you try too. We struggled with our Japanese and they struggled with their English, but we did get what we want in the end and they were so happy to see us trying our best to communicate in Japanese.

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The second night was a blast because my husband had already planned from before our trip to go to this restaurant. The restaurant’s name is Menbakaichidai and they serve “fire” ramen. They set you up in their bar area and tell you to put your hair back if it’s long & to lean back once he comes around to your plate to set it on “fire”. They also take your phone and set it up in front of you on video to catch your reaction to the explosion. We really had a great time and the owner was so funny. Definitely recommend coming here!

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Menbakaichidai
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Fire ramen! “No Ra-men no life”

Hope you enjoyed!

-Daylin

 

 

 

 

 

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Airbnb in Tokyo

My husband and I made a trip to Japan in April 2016 and it was the best trip we’ve ever had in our life. It holds a special part in our hearts that no other country will ever replace. I will be talking about our amazing trip in another post though. I wanted to talk about our experience about our first time using Airbnb. We had heard about this awesome website before, but we were a little skeptical about renting someone’s home or room. We decided to try it out for our Japan trip though because we’ve always heard about Japan being a “safe” country. We gave it a go and it turned out to be such an amazing experience! We really felt like we were actually living in Japan and with my husband’s basic Japanese we were able to go around neighborhoods with more ease than I would’ve ever imagined.

First off, let me just say that we rented two Airbnb places in Tokyo and we did this because we were going to South Korea after being a few days in Tokyo then we were coming back to Japan. We wanted to get the feel of two different types of neighborhoods in Tokyo.

When we arrived in Japan it was extremely cold and we weren’t that covered up. We found a foreigner, who happened to live in Japan, on the train to Tokyo from Narita Airport and she was nice enough to guide us in the right direction and get on the train to go to our Airbnb. By the way, we noticed Japanese people will try their hardest to help you with anything as long as you start the conversation in Japanese. Don’t walk up to a Japanese person and start speaking to them in English and expect them to want to speak it back (Remember you are in their country!). Most Japanese people are very shy and you might intimidate them. Once they see you trying your hardest in their language, they will start trying to speak back to you and probably in English. Most do know how to speak English, but are shy, so once they see you trying they will try also. Anyways, back to what we were talking about. Once we found the Airbnb apartment the one thing I was terrified that would happen, happened. It was midnight already and we were outside the apartment building, but there was no host. We texted him multiple times and there was no answer, but what really upset me was that I was texting him through Line (a free texting app used a lot in Asia) and I could see he was seeing my texts because the app tells you when the other person has read the message. I went into our Airbnb website and looked him up (he had plenty of good reviews btw) to message him through there as well when I noticed he was Korean. I know a little Korean and can read and understand the little words I know, so I decided to text him in Korean through the Line app. To my surprise he answered and gave us the number to text another guy, which would have the key to the apartment. This was all OUTSIDE of the building, in the cold, with our bags, standing up and past midnight already. My husband saw a few people go in the building, so we followed  and at least stayed in the lobby area (with no seats) as we texted the other guy. Turns out the other guy wouldn’t answer either, by now I was hungry tired and extremely pissed off. I tried the same thing and texted him in Korean and waited another 30 minutes. I told my husband we’d have to get a hotel at this point because I wasn’t going to spend the night in some cold seatless empty lobby area after a 12 hour flight. The guy finally answered and said he’d be there in about 15 minutes and when he finally showed up he deeply apologized saying he had confused us with another couple who had given him some trouble with booking. I thought, how could he confuse us with another couple if he didn’t even bother replying to our texts and even asking us who we were! Anyways, once he showed us the apartment I put my anger and frustration aside and started looking everywhere and admiring how pretty and new everything was. The whole building was modern looking and looked pretty new and just like the pictures in their Airbnb profile.

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Lobby area downstairs where we were about to stay the night 😕
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Hallway with washer/dryer to the left
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Kitchen area
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This sink is big so that you can wash clothing as well. Toilet was a modern one with all the extras, like the amazing seat warmer ❤
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Shower/bath room. See the shower curtain rod? It’s not for a curtain (thats what the door is for), it’s for hanging your clothes to dry in case it’s raining & you can’t hang them outside.
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Room (FYI: the beds are small)
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Excuse our mess!
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Balcony area
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The view (to the right) outside from the balcony
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The view (to your left) outside from the balcony

Other things we liked about this Airbnb was that the subway was right across the street as well as a seven-eleven which you could honestly find in any and every corner in Tokyo. There was also a McDonald’s in the corner when walking to the left of the apartment and if you turned right from the McDonald’s than you can find a whole street of Korean restaurants. My husband and I assumed it was a Korean neighborhood in Tokyo as we saw many Koreans around that area as well as many Korean tenants in the building we were staying at. We did try a few of the restaurants and they were very good, so definitly recommend staying around the Shinjuku area.

The Second apartment was in a different area in Shinjuku which was surprisingly far from the first apartment. Our host was so kind and very specific with instructions on how to get to her apartement. She even emailed us a map with pictures on which subway line to get and of the roads from the subway station to the apartment. It was truly helpful as we do not know the language and would take us a while to find someone for help. This Airbnb apartment was in a residential area, so we were asked to be as quiet as possible at night and there was a nice neighbor who was kind enough to help us get our luggage in the lobby area.

 

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Kitchen area
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Toilet had it’s own little room and a little sink right behind it
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Bathroom sink and washer/dryer
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Shower/bath room. It also had a drying system for your clothes
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Hallway area with closet to the left
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Bedroom
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Small couch next to beds
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Table with T.V.
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Ramen w/ ham
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Ramen w/ chicken, ham and pork dumplings

 

We arrived about 1am and were so hungry, but we didn’t know where we could possibly find something opened in such a residential area. Lucky for us Tomoko, our lovely host, had 2 booklets on her T.V. table (one in Manderin and the other in English). It had directions for all the buttons in the apartment (everything was in Japanese) and the last few pages had suggestions on places she recommends eating at around the area. What I loved most though, was her brief decription on what type of food the place serves, why she likes it, the directions and what times they were opened! It was so sweet that she took her time to make that awesome booklet. She had a variety of restauarants so her guests could choose from depending on the times they arrived. We found 2 restaurants that were opened till late or early lol, since it was about 2am by the time we were ready to head out. The restaurant was in a very high hilly street and to our surprise there were many more restaurants in the area that were opened. My husband and I knew it had to be good because of how many locals there were inside. The way to order was through a machine outside the restaurant. Of course everything was in Japanese, so we had to translate the dishes haha. We had no one behind us so we were able to take our time. Once we were done you’d click the button for the plate you wanted and you were seated inside to wait for your food and drink. It was truly wonderful and such a unique experience we would definitly recommend doing Airbnb through Japan! NOTE: please do your research as I’ve heard the Japanese are not happy with the whole Airbnb concept! Our trip was in April 2016 and Airbnb was rather new, but recently they have had some issues with Airbnb in Japan.

-Daylin