JAPAN TRAVEL DIARY | PART TWO: KYOTO

The weekend following Tokyo, Edgar and I took a shinkansen (bullet train) straight into Kyoto. Taking the bullet trains typically provides you with two options: the "Ordinary Car" and the "Green Car" -- we opted for the latter since we were on vacation (after all). Not only did we get reserved seating (ordinary cars have a first come, first serve basis and we did not make earlier reservations at all), but we were also in a quieter and more spacious part of the train - where attendants would also push carts of food, beer, and alcohol down the aisles for sale. Like all the other commuters though, we purchased 1000 yen bento boxes prior to boarding the train and ate our lunches en route to Kyoto, which took about 3 hours (Edgar claims that riding the bullet trains was one of his favorite things we did). 

I have been to Kyoto back in the fall of 2012 when I went with my sister, and it was exactly as I had remembered it when I returned. Except this time when we went, the sakura (cherry blossoms) were in full bloom and the city was bustling with so many more people from all over the world. All of Gion and every temple we visited had its own festival or hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties) occurring at all times of the day. It was seriously amazing from beginning to end. If you find yourself traveling to Kyoto, make sure to visit every inch of it and to eat/drink all staples: matcha (everything), kobe beef, beef belly soba/ramenKyoto-style sushi (it is different!), and tofu (Yelp recommendations attached).

Day 1 / Fushimi Inari Temple

Day 1 / Kobe beef on our first night.

Day 1 / The streets of Gion

Since it was such a peak time to view the blossoms, the whole city of Kyoto literally dressed up in kimonos and traditional ware (locals and tourists alike) to celebrate. We decided to partake! It was such an incredible experience to get to wear a kimono for the entire day; surprisingly it was super comfortable, down to the slippers that we walked in all day. I give major props to the ladies of Yumeyakata for being so efficient, diligent, and thoughtful when dressing us up! Dressing a person in a kimono is seriously the most intricate and most complicated process I've ever been a part of. It truly is an art.  

The best compliment I definitely received though, was this adorable old lady that passed by me in one of the temples. She stopped and then told me in Japanese, "You look so beautiful in this kimono!" -- I'll take it!

Kiyomizudera Temple

Day Two / Finding Totoros all around this country is such a treat!

Japan Travel Diary | Part One: Tokyo

A long overdue post. Back in late March/early April, Edgar and I took a long-anticipated trip to Japan. Words still cannot describe how overjoyed and incredibly excited I was to have gotten to travel back to one of my favorite countries with someone this special -- and during cherry blossom season! It was beautifully timed; I have honestly never have seen so much pink in my life. 

For two weeks, we traveled all over: from Tokyo, to Kyoto, Osaka, and the hot spring resort town of Hakone. I still have withdrawals and I really cannot wait to go back.   

もう一度日本に行きたいです。。。

Tsukiji Fish Market

Ueno Park, Tokyo

<3

There is something about this country that will always have me daydreaming about returning. I'm not sure if it's a combination of the culture, the food, the language (which I'm proud to say, hasn't rusted at all that much -- in fact, I got to play translator and interpreter for Edgar most of the time) or if it's just the immense subtleties and the finer details. Either way... 

Our weekend in Kyoto will be posted soon. 

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Echo Mountain

Last weekend, a few of my good friends and I woke up at the crack of dawn to hike halfway up to Echo Mountain in Altadena. I've never seen a more breathtaking view than I've ever had in my life - we were literally climbing above the clouds and hearing our voices beyond the canyons (thus, the name). Thank you Becca for organizing this, and to Lisa and Peter for picking me up and feeding me such a decadent brunch in Pasadena. We ended just talking for hours at AU79 Teahouse. All before 12 PM. As it goes for most of my weekends ... I hate waking up early, but I love doing all of this early. It feels so great to get early workouts in on a Saturday morning; I feel like I've accomplished a lot more - it also sets for a good mood for the rest of the day! So when's our next one guys?