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[あうはわかりのはじまり, au no wa wakari no hajimari] Very common Buddhist feeling to Japan and Japanese people about the ephemeral of any thing.
In May, I made my first trip to Tokyo which I didn’t really like : it was too fast, I wasn’t prepared enough, I was too lost. So I didn’t write an article, but it deserved to be talked about though !
In September, Olivier, who I went to Sweden with, asked me to go to Japan. I think that the people you travel with are a determining factor in the appreciation of the trip, so I bought immediately a new round trip for Tokyo !
Before going we ordered a Japan Rail Pass in Green Car (1st class). Japanese trains are very different from French trains : the comfort of the seats is a bit better (longer seat, a lot of space for the legs) however there are no electrical outlets, or trash can in the train.
By the way, talking about trash cans, it’s a real issue in Japan, there are almost nowhere !
Japan is a very photogenic country, from the temples with bright colours, to the very green nature and the people with natural outfits. The photograph in you will be happy !
First stop of our trip, Kyoto, Japan old imperial capital. We visited the Nijo castle, which is not very funky inside, but the gardens of the castle are wonderful.
At night, we found ourselves in a little bar with only six stools in front of a bar. We drank while chatting with Japanese people, and we sang silly songs on the karaoke. It was a really special ambiance !
The following day, we went on an expedition to see the Arashiyama bamboo forest, at the West of Kyoto. It has been, for me, the most beautiful and impressive place of the trip that we visited, a must see !
In the bamboo forest, we found a paid zen garden (1000 yens) that was very nice and with nobody in, a very relaxing place worth its price !
When leaving the bamboo forest, we tried to find the monkey forest, but a bit further, we’ve been explained that they almost never see any monkey. We went down at random in the forest, and found ourselves along the river, a real postcard !
What we haven’t been able to see but will be planned next time :
– Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion
2 – Kobe
Kobe is known worldwide for its famous Kobe beef. They say that the oxen are massaged, that they are given beer and are made listen to classic music. We don’t know what is the legend and what is the reality, but all the mystery around this meat only makes it more mythic !
An afternoon we went to eat at Wakkoqu Kitano, a restaurant we found in a guide. We sat around a table for 6 people with a heating plate at the center. A chief cooks ceremoniously the vegetables, the sauces and the meat in front of us. It’s a real spectacle. The meat is delicious and there are many side dishes. The meal is fun and the chief is there to explain how to enjoy our meal. As it’s a lunch, each of us paid 5000 yen but it is much more expensive in the evening ! I think that if you’re going to Kpbe, it’s a pity to miss that well known beef. It’s really good, not fat, it makes me think about foie gras with the texture and feeling. It’s unique so it’s hard to describe the taste, you will have to test it to have your own idea !
In the afternoon, we went to the top of Mount Maya, thanks to the cable car which leans dangerously, but it’s okay, it was fun though ! When we arrive at the top, it’s cold but he really have a crazy landscape !
At night, I found this Santa Monica winds restaurant located in the oriental hotel overlooking the Kobe bay.
The restaurant offers a buffet for around €20, there are unlimited sushi’s and all kinds of Asian and Occidental meals. It’s no great cuisine but at this price, you have good value for your money !
Kobe has been the town I liked the most in this trip. It’s a much more relax city that what I have seen in Japan, I can’t tell why, but just the general feeling was very positive !
I really liked Cyprien’s video about the Japan, go check (and watch it until the end) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3prRmnZg3s