I never thought of Japan as a romantic place until I explored it with my boyfriend. Yes, last year I went back to Japan. Spending days in Japan with him was absolutely fantastic. My all 4 happy hormones – endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin (which is the most dominant, by the way!)- have reached their maximum level during that trip. Even now, when I’m trying to remember those precious moments we had, it feels like my brain is trying to produce more serotonin.
Meeting the boyfriend at the airport was one of the most exciting parts. After messaging him that I’m outside the JR ticket booth, I went to the bathroom and fixed my face, hair, clothes, and everything that would make me feel fabulous. Then, I saw a man wearing a neon apple green hat. It’s him! Shouted my mind. Roller coaster of emotion overwhelmed me that day. Mostly nervous. It doesn’t matter where we are, I am so preoccupied with the idea of him talking to my face, the idea that I’d be with him for 9 days, the idea of HIM.
Honestly, I contemplated on whether to write about this trip or not, but the urge to show you how exciting the trip was is strong. Fortunately, I felt the urge to write today. Blogging has always been therapeutic, especially when you want to read previous experiences you have written. You can always look back and reminisce. I will try my best to remember everything during this trip and consolidate it here.
While on the train going to Oshiage, he mentioned his favorite dungeons and dragons. I don’t have any idea what it’s all about but it sounded so awesome because he is awesome hehe. I’ve been in Japan before, although I know that he would love this trip (because why the hell not?), I’m still afraid to commit a mistake that would make him feel disappointed. I want this trip to be perfect at least.
It feels like we’re on the train the whole day. Along the way, the atmosphere has started to get colder due to a bit of rain outside. It was a chill and relaxing ride. The weather was about the same last year where we experienced a bit of rain on the first day then a hot summer feel for the rest of our stays.
We had the best 9 days of our lives, and it’s quite hard to sum it all up in one blog. So bear with me.
I think it’s already 5 o’clock in the afternoon when we arrived at Richmond Hotel Premier – just a block away from the majestic Tokyo Skytree. He always booked fancy hotels for us, which made me feel so special. Tokyo Skytree in the rain looks like an alien spaceship. Yes, it was that magical.
After exploring the panoramic view of the city from the tallest building in Japan (634 meters in height), we’re off to Coro Coro Comic Legend Cafe for our dinner time, only because we can’t find any other restaurants that are still open. In their menu, you can find so kawaii and Instagrammable food like this one:
HELLO AGAIN, AJISAI
We were greeted by the many colours of beautiful Ajisai in the garden of Hasedera. I’ve been here before, but it didn’t stop me from including it on our itinerary. I don’t mind seeing its spectacular beauty again. Its cheerful beauty was so contagious and it feels like you want to be cheerful all day.
THE NOODLE DUNGEON
It’s no surprise that one of our agendas visiting Japan is to try almost all of their delicious meals.
We had a feast in Shin-Yokohama’s Ramen Museum. Ben called it “Noodle Dungeon”, which, if you’d ask me, is an appropriate description. Simply because the Ramen shops and cafes are located underground. The museum setting was based in Japan during 1958. To put it simply, it was like you’re in a studio where a film was being shot. If you know the film called Always Sunset on the Third Street, you get the idea of what I’m talking about. They made a tremendous effort to make it look like you’re in 1958. I’m serious! I was like, did I just leap through time? Oh, why 1958? Because the world’s first instant ramen was invented in 1958.
We were already starving when we got here, so the moment we saw a vending machine (where you can order a ramen) — right there and then, we indulged ourselves with their best ramen. Not even thinking nor realizing that there might be a lot of ramen restaurants to choose from downstairs. We don’t regret eating at our first stop though. Our tummies were happy.
I couldn’t finish my ramen, so I let him finish it. Believe me, I’m not so proud of myself that day for not finishing my ramen. I’m so full already!
We forgot to take a photo before we demolished most of it. Sorry ^_^
WATER BUS – TOKYO CRUISE
Going to Hama Rikyu garden, we tried a different route. Exploring the Sumida River through what they called water bus – Tokyo Cruise is the best way to go. Note that the admission to the garden is already included in the price of the boat ticket. We got off to explore Hima Rikyu garden as the cruise will be traveling further to Odaiba. On board, you will notice a group of people in front. They were very helpful in naming the bridges and famous establishments around Tokyo Bay. To be honest, I don’t understand almost everything from their speakers, but hey, their panoramic view was enough for me to be entertained. This would be my first time to try the Tokyo cruise, and it was an enjoyable ride! What a super cool experience.
A large landscape garden in central Tokyo. These are the highlights of the Hama-Rikyu Garden: duck ponds, a tunnel which served as duck storage; and a traditional teahouse. In the loving memory of ducks that were killed during duck-hunting in the Edo period. Yep, it was a place where shoguns as well as the members of the Imperial family hangout together for their duck hunting session.
That was before. Now, it is a place for romantic couples. A cheesy moment to cherish – I remember the way he looked at me when we’re resting on some rocks under the shades. He looked at me as if I got something on my face. I smiled and said “What?” Then he just smiled and said “Nothing.” He’s a sweetheart.
NEW GUNDAM STATUE in DAIBA
I’m not surprised anymore when I saw the Gundam Statue had been taken down when we got there. Because I’d been hearing about its replacement on the internet – the Gundam RX-78-2.
I’m a bit sad that Ben didn’t get to see it, but felt happy again after he was pleased by the takoyaki that I was craving for since day one.
I told him that there’s a replica of the Statue of Liberty at the end of the path overlooking the Rainbow Bridge. We chilled and he took some of the photos of it.
STARBUCKS AT SHIBUYA
Entertain yourself by the mob of people crossing the busiest street in Japan while having your coffee at Starbucks. That’s what we did, and for the second time around, I was mesmerized. Also, by doing so you’re letting your feet have a break from walking all day.
Look I have uploaded another video to gif for you guys <3
Yeah, this is not my first time in Shinjuku. This is also not my first time to search for Godzilla’s head, yet I’m still having a hard time finding it. I asked a few people (which after a day or two, you will get tired of doing because they can’t understand you most of the time) before we had the glimpse of it. Ben said, “This place is crazy!” Shinjuku was freaking loud that night, so I didn’t enjoy Shinjuku as much as I enjoyed it before. Ben was right, it was so loud and somewhat chaotic that night. Oh, by the way, we came across this solemn street when we’re on our way to Shinjuku.
We also spotted a few restaurants where you can enjoy your beers and sake. We relaxed our tired feet and had our dinner there. Ben’s beer was so delicious! Goddamn it!
TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM
Out of the few museums I have visited in Japan, Tokyo National Museum is my favorite thus far. Not because It’s been featured in one of my favorite films – Gantz: O (a 2016 Japanese CGI anime science fiction action film directed by Yasushi Kawamura), Only because they’ve got the largest collections of Japanese arts and artifacts on display. Including ancient pottery, sculptures, kimonos. swords and much, much more. I’m in awe of how huge the museum was. In the film, there were 2 statues on the side. We’re expecting the statues to be standing there on both sides of the museum entrance, but none of those statues were real. We both say “those were just CGIs!” NEAT! Highly recommended – the film (Gantz) and of course, the museum.
I <3 AKIHABARA
Akihabara stole my heart that day. This place is not only heaven for a diehard fan of anime, but also for the people who are looking for quality electronics. We were both happy to see the place where the Stein’s Gate (Ben’s favorite animated series) was set. It was a kickass show and quite entertaining one. I know because he joined me while I’m watching it. He was there to clarify things if ever I have questions which are mostly the case haha.
You will be overwhelmed by the amount of otaku-related merchandise in Akihabara. From the first floor to the last floor of a building, you can find anime in every nook and corner. Manga, accessories, pillows, dvds, plushies, you name it. I remember he was so happy. While he was trying to buy something for his friends, he recognized some anime on display.
The night is still young so we decided to visit Sensoji Temple since it’s just 20 mins walk from where we’re staying. Last year, I saw this temple under the sun (I think it was late afternoon), so seeing it at night is quite a refreshing sight. Our cameras are ready for its beautiful architecture, and we are ready to shoot every angle.
SPOTTED MT. FUJI
Early in the morning, our bags were already packed and we had our last buffet breakfast at our Hotel.
Goodbye Tokyo! Here we come, Osaka! My friend told me, in order to see Mt Fuji, we must sit beside the window on the right. I think Ben forgot to say to the ticket booth that we’re supposed to sit on the side where we can see the breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji. It turns out, even without asking, they will give you that best spot Hello Mt Fuji! Thankfully, the sky was clear. We were pleasantly surprised to see it.
KOBE BEEF in OSAKA
Tired and starving, we went straight to our Red Roof Hotel. After we have rested for a bit, we’re off again to explore the streets of Osaka and look for some food to eat. Strolling in the seemingly endless covered shopping district in Dotonbori makes your stomach howl for food as the street is filled with restaurants and you can easily smell food from the outside. Takoyaki, okonomiyaki, gyoza, tempura and a lot of Japanese food to choose from. Most importantly, for an unforgettable gastronomic delight in Osaka, try Kobe Beef 😀 Pricey but not always that you can try it. Oh and their beers as well, it’s the best!
Photo credit — Ben
OSAKA AQUARIUM KAIYUKAN
Before exploring this one of the world’s largest aquariums, make sure you’ve eaten a heavy meal because seeing those fishes and other sea creatures will make you starve hehe. Don’t get me started on how many fishes you have eaten in your entire life, humans! Also, the long wait at the entrance will make you feel hungry. This is the most beautiful aquarium I have seen in my life, and I know every species is well-taken care of. Watch this video I’ve uploaded VIDEO
I can’t even imagine how these Japanese pull off such an impressively huge aquarium. This should serve as an inspiration to what one can achieve.
With a huge stone wall surrounding the castle, you can easily feel its strong presence upon entering. We were greeted by the mob of people trying to make their way up to the entrance of the castle. It’s still crowded when we reached the main door, but that didn’t stop our hyped spirits from exploring what’s inside the castle. We even explore all the way up to the veranda.
I don’t want to dig in and tell you guys more about what’s the story behind Osaka Castle, those armours displays, and such.. as you can easily google it. Let my photos speak on what we have witnessed inside.
HIRO AND SONOE
Kyoto Guest Inn Nagaokakyo is the best place to stay in Kyoto. Sonoe and Hiro (the owners) were incredibly generous and nice to us. We arrived in Kyoto quite early in the morning. We didn’t expect them to let us in, and we are really grateful for it. They prepared coffee and gave us tips on how to commute and places to visit. Going to the train station has never been easy, but thanks to Hiro, it is! He was so generous in providing us a lift to the nearest JR station.
While we’re eating our breakfast which was personally prepared by Sonoe, we had a little chat with her. I told her of how I love eating their rice. I was like, “We Filipinos love Japanese rice.” For me, Japanese rice is the best rice I’ve ever tasted. Any ulam will do if you have Japanese rice with it. Then Sonoe told us that one of their foreign guests had eaten the rice ball like a bread or a burger?! Because the guy put a jam on top of it. That’s the day I learned that Japanese people were also fascinated by us (foreigners) whether we are eating their food in a “right” way. We laugh and get drunk at their bar that night. Surprisingly, for an introvert as he is, boyfie really did a good job getting along and talking to them. Come here babe *hug*.. The best bit was the wine tasting. You can tell that Hiro is quite enthusiastic about what are the best beers, wines, rums, vodkas, and especially sake to try.
And look, Sonoe made us a little souvenir.
If you want your breakfast prepared by lovely Sonoe, I highly recommend Kyoto Guest Inn Nagaokakyo.
Photo by Ben
Book now and stay here – https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/kyoto-guestinn-nagaokakyo.html
FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE
Fushimi Inari was known for its thousands of vermilion torii gates which were dedicated to Inari – the Shinto of rice. Boyfriend and I arrived at around 9AM, but if you want to make sure that the place is not crowded, the best time to visit is around 7AM or during night time. However, this doesn’t mean we didn’t make the most out of it. Look at my smile.
Pretty much every corner was photogenic.
GEISHA DISTRICT – GION
We haven’t seen an actual Geisha because it was just around 1PM when we got there. But still, we were pleasantly surprised to see people wearing kimono while strolling around Gion, and I think that was amazing enough to compensate. I wonder what Gion would be like at night. Must be a festival of beauty.
After this, there’s a huge park that we have entered. If I’m not mistaken, it was located 3 blocks away from the Geisha District. Yeah, it was so near! So you have another place to add on your Kyoto itinerary.
This love train known as the Sagano Scenic Railway is particularly popular during autumn. It goes from Arashiyama to Kameoka. Some Japanese use it for their daily commute but for us tourists, we ride it for fun sightseeing. We took the round-trip route. I’m not sure how many times the train has passed through the tunnels, but what I’m sure of is that the darkness inside the tunnel is what made this little cute girl cry.
The river, mountain, bridges that we’ve seen along the journey were caught by our camera lenses. I was smiling all throughout. it’s a whole new different experience. Yeah, I liked to call it Love Train, so? hehe
Yep, I have uploaded another video/gif (whatever) ^_^
ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO FOREST
The Love Train can take you to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, ONLY if you book for a round trip, but I’m not sure haha. Or you can simply walk from the Sagano Railway station to Arashiyama, or if you’re in Kameoka station — ride the love train which is going to Arashiyama.
No picture can capture my overwhelming happiness while walking in the middle of a vast amount of super tall bamboos. It feels like I was in a different world. It feels like I was one of the characters from Studio Ghibli films lol… Very dreamy!
I remember the film Miss Hokusai (2015) when we’re at the Togetsukyo Bridge. Probably because they almost look identical. If you watched Miss Hokusai, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s so beautiful, the Togetsukyo bridge and the film.
PHOTO FROM THE FILM
I saw this film at a Japanese film festival. Highly recommended. Here’s the trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nj1rwo_d-s
Of course, make sure to spend time visiting temples. You can easily find one as it seems to be abundant anywhere in Japan. Taking off your shoes after the long walk then sit your butt in front of the zen garden? This must be one of the best feelings during that day. You just want to stay there forever.
Hiro suggested the Golden Pavillion to us. We arrived around 3 pm, as far as I can remember. Heaps of cute little kiddos were also there to see the Pavillion. It’s probably included on their list to visit for their educational tour. Their energy was so contagious that it can definitely make you smile. This Pavillion is just simply jaw-dropping.
THE FUTURISTIC KYOTO STATION
I actually felt I was in a different world upon entering the Kyoto station. This is where we had our lunch. Actually, I don’t know if it’s still considered as lunch because it’s already 3pm. I ordered an Ox tongue! Don’t judge until you have it in your mouth. It’s definitely something worth a try. Ben had a beef steak and a beer ^_^
BACK in TAKARAGAWA ONSEN
Hello beautiful Minakami! I’m back! I visited this place with my friend last year – right there and then I fell in love with its beauty. You can check out my post about it. That post might convince you to love it as well haha. Anyway, this is not a prototype bath house that we usually see in a manga full of people. In here you can find peace of mind. Here you can get close to nature. I’m just not sure if it got busy during winter though. Just like last year, there weren’t a lot of people when we got there. This was also the best choice for the cultural experience.
Luck was on our side because it’s raining when we arrived at the Onsen! Because aside from the winter, rainy days would be the second best time to visit bathhouses. Unlike last year — where we’d been assisted by an incredibly nice old man (who even taught us how to put on our yukata) — the man who greeted us was not so accommodating at all. Luckily, I booked the same room and we do not need his assistance anymore. I told Ben “I got this.” I know the way to our room. 🙂
In the span of one year, there’s a couple of things I noticed that have changed in Takaragawa. First thing is the way they serve the food. the food served in a traditional Japanese style last year. But now, they have a buffet. I liked the style before, however, in their buffet style, you can stuff your mouth with a lot of options. The second thing is they are not asking now whether you want Japanese or western to serve you, cos it’s already a buffet. You Joan >.<
The romantic atmosphere entices you to bring your boyfriend on your next visit. So I did. Ticked that to my bucket list. At night, we watched “Your Name”. He seemed to have liked it. YAY! I can finally throw out my worries of him not liking it. We had the best day of our lives.
Of course, there are people who look good wearing yukata, Ben is one of them. So Handsome <3
PRINCE PARK TOWER TOKYO
What could be more romantic than having a hotel room near Tokyo Tower?
Staring at the hotel lobby, I said to myself, “I can’t afford to stay in this extremely fancy hotel” (whisper to myself). We have watched a bunch of movies. Dark Shadows was showing on the telly, so we decided to watch it together. We also had fun watching their silly commercials in between. What made our stay more perfect was having these cakes.
If you decide to visit Tokyo, enjoying the panoramic view of the city should always deserve a spot on your itinerary — the historical Tokyo Tower. I think I love this tower more than Tokyo Skytree. It looks great during the day, but it looks even better at night.
Tokyo Milky Way
I promised to go back and I did, but I didn’t know it was this quick lol. That’s just too much happiness in two weeks.
That’s all, folks! Japan will always be my favorite place to visit. <3 Kanpai!