Rob & I have been back home since the day before Thanksgiving but it’s been a whirlwind of get-togethers with family and friends, getting sick, and going back to work (UGH). So much anticipation and now Japan seems like it was a lifetime away.
But I finally started to download and go through all the pictures we took and I’m excited to share them with you all! It’ll probably take me a few months to finish all my planned blog entries though. LOL.
We had an AMAZING time. I absolutely adored Japan and its people and miss it so, so much. This was our itinerary —
11/7 Departure flight
11/8 Arrival in Kyoto
11/9 Kyoto Day 1
11/10 Day trip to Miyajima Island & Hiroshima
11/11 Day trip to Nara
11/12 Kyoto Day 2
11/13 Travel to Tokyo Disney Resort
11/14-11/16 Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea
11/17-11/20 Tokyo proper
11/21 Back home
Two weeks barely allowed us to scratch the surface. AND we had a packed schedule each day! There’s just so much to see, eat and experience. I’m already counting down the days until we can visit again.
Wednesday, 11/7 – Thursday, 11/8
We flew economy on United (I have a love/hate relationship with United but it was the cheapest fare we could find). Luckily we selected seats very close to the back of the plane and ended up with an empty window seat in our row.
So of course we took full advantage and spread all our stuff around. It was SO nice to have the opportunity to stretch our legs while sleeping! (Spoiler: we didn’t have the same luck on the way home).
Our flight was early in the morning and after 12+ hours in the air, we landed at Kansai Airport at about 4:30pm… the following day. We weren’t done traveling yet, though. We still had to take a train to Kyoto — and to do that we needed to redeem our JR Rail Pass exchange orders for the actual passes. The JR rail pass was SO great and easy to use — it’s meant for overseas tourists to travel on major forms of transportation provided by the JR Group, including most of the bullet trains. Thankfully the person helping us understood enough English to get us our passes AND make us reservations for the next train to Kyoto. PHEW!
As a quick aside, I have to admit that for the first few days, the language barrier really got to us. Major signage (like at tourist attractions or at the train/subway stations) is usually posted in English so we were always able to figure out directions and where to go. What was difficult for me, and frankly overwhelming, was the feeling of not being able to communicate verbally with anyone else (we only knew a handful of basic words and phrases thanks to the 3 Pimsleur Japanese lessons we managed to listen to). I realized I had to let it go and see the cobbled communication using minimal words and lots of gesturing as part of the “fun” of traveling.
Here’s Rob at the Kansai Airport train station waiting for the Haruka express train that would take us to Kyoto, our destination for the next 5 nights.
Now me. Boy do we look tired.
And here’s our first train of the trip! I was so impressed by the long distance train system in Japan. The trains are fast, convenient, CLEAN, comfortable, user-friendly and ON TIME. This is what Amtrak wishes it could be.
Funny story. When we arrived at Kyoto station, I was hauling our luggage off the train and onto the platform when my right shoe (I was wearing ballet flats) FELL INTO THE GAP and onto the tracks. OMG!!!!! Hey, it was a BIG GAP OK. Now this is a perfect example of how accommodating the Japanese are to others. My first reaction was to just leave it since I had another pair of shoes in my backpack. But a janitor saw what happened and he notified a station manager who went down to the tracks after the train left WITH A FLASHLIGHT and retrieved my shoe for me. I was hanging my head the entire time in embarrassment.
We took a taxi to our hotel, the Westin Miyako, where we had a quick dinner and fought to stay awake until an appropriate bed time in order to avoid jet lag. It worked!
Our first full day in Kyoto!