One of my biggest dreams was visiting Japan. Their ancient history, their technology, gaming industry, their “kawaii” trends, harajuku costumes… all of this fascinated me. And of course, Japan did not disappoint one bit.
We stayed in Kyoto (visited Osaka & Nara from there) and Tokyo. If you want to see the craziest tourist trap of the trip, scroll down all the way to the end.
I was a bit concerned because of the language barrier. We did not speak a lick of Japanese, and neither our Spanish nor English were going to fully cut it.
The people (and deer) were incredibly nice and polite, so we managed fine with lots of bowing, pointing and smiling. Even though we got a lost a few times in rural areas, ordered the wrong food once and could not for the life of us figure out how to use some of their computers to order food, we still cracked up a lot and had amazing experiences. For some reason, I totally forgot that google translate existed… at one point we needed to get something from the pharmacy and I had to go full charades mode in order to get what we needed.
Something to point out is that Japan truly has their shit together. All public transportation is so easy to navigate. Their subway system is INCREDIBLE and so freaking clean. You could literally eat off the floors… that’s how clean everything was. Also POCKET WIFI! such a cool thing to provide for Airbnbs so that you don’t have to pay extra on your phone line and/or pay for a SIM card. If not from airbnb’s you can also get them from the airport and then return them when you leave.
About a month before traveling, we also purchased the JR Pass which takes you all over Japan for a flat price (you want to make the math to see if it’s worth it). From Narita airport we went straight to Kyoto first. We had been flying 13 hours non-stop, then after we got off, got on a local train to the Tokyo station to get on a bullet train straight to Kyoto. WE WERE TIRED. But this whole ordeal helped us beat jet lag… we were forced to stay awake.
The amount of vending machines and automated servers is out of this world. Anywhere we went, if you had a few yens there was no way you would go thirsty. Sometimes we had no clue what the drink would taste like, so it was always a nice surprise when you thought you bought water and it turns out it was some type of fruity flavor.
I ate SO MANY matcha ice cream cones… like SO MANY.
We definitely overdid it on the first day walking WAY too much. When we finally got back to our airbnb after going to three different Temples, the entire Nishiki Market and some other places we couldn't feel our legs. The next day we decided to walk as little as possible using local trains and cabs.
Everything was so freaking cute everywhere I looked. Cabs, shops, food… my senses where super stimulated. I wanted to lose myself in the moment like Eminem always tells us.
While in Kyoto, we did a day-trip to Nara and Osaka since everyone kept saying we couldn’t miss those places. In Osaka, we went to Shinsekai which has NYC vibes, full of lights, signs and colorful restaurants. In Nara, we went to Nara Park, also known as the Deer Park. Hundreds of Sika deer just chill around the temples waiting to be fed crackers, which they BOW for. It is some snow white type of shit. Amazing.
The rest of the days were spent in Tokyo. We stayed in Shibuya, which is SO CUTE and super close to the Shinsen Station which was super useful for getting everywhere. We went to the Kawaii Monster Cafe, the Robot Restaurant which was absolutely like being in all the drugs at once while being at a rave. We also visited Godzilla, the Gundam statue (which was HOLY CRAP SO COOL!), the Akihabara Game District, and so many other cool things we found along the way.
I feel like you can’t explain what the Robot Restaurant is like, because you have to experience it yourself. The one thing I would note is that it is NOT a restaurant. The food they do serve on the two breaks of the show are more like snacks. Not sure the name matches what you actually experience but it is definitely worth your time, if you want to feel like you are on drugs without actually being on drugs, ya know? As soon as you walk in, a robot playing Justin Bieber songs welcomes you in the lobby area, pre-show. The show is divided in three parts, increasingly adding more characters and getting crazier and crazier, louder and louder. The costumes were insanely fun. It reminded me of old school Power Rangers villains, you never knew whatta hell they were, they just looked fun. The place is narrow but long, so everyone is super close to the action. There are drums, lasers, parrots riding unicorns and lots of beautiful dancers. A couple of people left after the second act, not sure if it was too much to take or if they were prone to seizures and had no warning.
Japan is such a different world in the best way. While we only visited a tiny portion of it, my dream came true. I am already planning my Harajuku outfit for the next trip!