Japan Trip Report: Miyajima & Hiroshima

Okay seriously… where did December go and how is it 2013? I must sound like a broken record. I say this every year!

Anyway, Happy New Year everyone! Outside of being sick for the past week, Rob, Diesel and I had a fantastic holiday — we spent lots of time with wonderful friends & family, ate lots of nommy food, and were spoiled with presents. Thought I’d share a couple of pics from our holiday —

At my happy place Disneyland with my new favorite character Duffy.

And a family pic before we headed to my cousin’s house on Christmas Eve. 🙂

I knew it would take me AGES to write up all the Japan entries I want to share. I’m so slow! Here’s another installment — this time our day trip to Miyajima Island and Hiroshima.

Saturday, 11/10

This was going to be a loooong day. We were heading about 225+ miles west. BUT we were traveling on the shinkansen (otherwise known as the bullet train). I was ridiculously excited!

Here’s a shinkansen approaching Kyoto station. So sleek!

Here’s a glimpse of the interior of the train. I absolutely LOVED it. It was so easy. No need to deal with security. Trains leave and depart on schedule. And there was so much space and legroom around the seats! It was so great.

We got a view of the countryside on the way. The train was going so fast — this was the least blurry picture I managed to take.

After about an hour and 45 minutes on the shinkansen, we got off at the Hiroshima station and transferred to a JR local train that was PACKED (we were crammed in the train like sardines — so no picture of that). It seemed like all the locals were heading to Miyajima too! From the Miyajima station, we had to take one more mode of transportation to get to the island…

The ferry! There’s a few different companies that operate ferries to the island but since we had the JR Rail Pass, we took the JR ferry since it was free of charge to passholders. So convenient.

Our first glimpse of the famous torii gate in the water.

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Japan Trip Report: Arrival & Kyoto, Day 1


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!

Friday, 11/9

Our first full day in Kyoto!

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off to japan

Rob & I are leaving on a jet plane… headed to Japan!

We’re going to start off in the Kyoto region for the first few days along with a day trip to Hiroshima (designated by the green & pink areas) and then will take the bullet train to Tokyo (in orange) and the Tokyo Disneyland Resort (!!!).

If I find free internet access, I’ll update my Twitter (username: CooKie01) and/or my Instagram feeds (username: cookiekel). Follow me! Can’t wait to share our adventures with all of you!