タクシー Best taxi driver in Kyoto

When I was in Japan in 2007 I was able to visit Kyoto. Luckily we found a really nice taxi driver who spoke english to show us all the great sites to see. He taught himself English and spoke it very well. He spent at least 3 hours driving us to different places and telling us the history of each thing. Not only driving but getting out of his car to personally walk us through everything. I was happy to find his business card today after wondering what happened to it after all these years. I’m not sure if he is still working for this company but if you are in Kyoto please give him a call and he will be more then happy to show you around!

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ホテル Types of Hotels and Inns in Japan

Japan has many types of hotels that are quite interesting, some are common in the west while other are uniquely Japanese. One of the obvious is a western style hotel which are like Hilton’s and other chains. So now to the unique ones!

Ryokan

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(click on photo to go to original source)

Ryokan’s are a very traditional type of Inn, dating from the Edo period. They have the traditional  tatami floors, some times an onsen(hot spring) and you get to wear a yukata and geta(japanese sandals).  A common thing to find inside the rooms are supplies for making tea. The very traditional ones have the futon you sleep on while modern style ones might have a mattress on a platform. Also there is usually a traditional dinner served. If it is a small family owned one you get to enjoyed a home cooked style meal. On the fancier scale it might include a kaiseki meal. The smaller ones you usually share a common bathroom(showers and toilets are always separated in traditional Japanese homes), while the larger ones you will have your own bathroom. You can find ryokans in rural areas but also some in the cities too.   Here is a website of ryokans. And here is another.

Capsule 

Capsule Hotel (26)

(click image for original source)

Capsule hotels are the budget friendly hotel($20-$40) and for those that are not looking for many amenities. They are stacked on top of each other creating two rows. Most come with a small TV and internet access. For privacy there is a curtain(though it doesn’t eliminate sound) and any luggage can usually be stored in a locker(though I would think most stays are from missing the train at night or drinking too much and needing a cheap place to rest). Bathrooms are communal.

Love hotel 

Love hotels were made for the couple that need a place for some private time. Say if you have kids, living with your parents to save money or have a room mate this is the place to go. The interaction with staff is minimal making checking in for the short stay discreet by using buttons to pick the room. Often rooms will be themed like Hello Kitty, Batman, a time period or anything you can think of.

みたかし Mitaka and Studio Ghibli

I first visited Mitaka and Studio Ghibli in August 2007 and then again in October 2009.

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These are awesome little things they give you each time you go. Sorry for the blurry photo. I just snapped a photo of these on my phone after sitting for quite a few years. A bit dusty too.

Here are some photos from my first trip…

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A street in Mitaka

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A bit blurry but I couldn’t pass up this Hello Kitty car.

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Top of the museum.

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My friend and I outside the the museum.

And here are some more of the area in 2009…

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There were so many artist along the streets.

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Pretty contrast.

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Finally I got to the top after missing it on the first visit.

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Kiki’s Delivery Service lamp in the Museum’s restaurant.

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My food. It was really good!

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A straw made of real straw!

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I thought these school children were so cute with their little hats and backpacks!

富士山 Around the villages of Mt. Fuji

Back in 2009 I visited the villages around Mt. Fuji. These are a few of my favorite photos I took, though only one contains Fuji san. The rest are plants and and animals. The villages I visited were Oshino Hakkai, Sato Nenba, and a few other areas with crafts and lavender ice cream.
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立川 Wired Cafe Tachikawa

I fell in love with this restaurant when in Tachikawa!  I first discovered it when I went in 2007 my first time in Japan. I went back in 2009 looking for it and was starting to get worried it wasn’t there, thing was I was in the wrong building. I finally found it and got my favorite thing, french toast with honey walnut syrup! If your ever in get the chance to eat there and like sweets, give that a try!

http://www.cafecompany.co.jp/brands/wired/tachikawa

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京都 Maiko and maybe a Geisha will make your night in Kyoto, even if it’s just a snap shot!

These are some photos from when I was in Japan for the first time in 2007. I was traveling with my mom and my friend from Tokyo 東京. When we got to Kyoto 京都 the first thing my mom and I wanted to see wear kimono clad women everywhere, we saw a few everyday women dressed in kimono which made me happy, but as for my mom it wasn’t enough, we had to see the geisha. My friend from Tokyo 東京 did want to be out at night in an area she didn’t know, plus she thought we were going on a wild goose chase along with the whole hotel staff. In this geisha quest we also meant seeing a maiko would do, but at the time I never knew the difference between maiko and geisha(or as locals call them geiko).

The key differences between them is the maiko dresses more colorfully and decorative then her, as they call it, “older sister”. A geisha becomes an older sister by taking on a maiko as her understudy and when they come of a certain age or are ready they become a geisha after a ceremony. There is also a ceremony to bind them as sisters as well.

So after arriving in Gion(one of the geisha districts) my mom and I were on the look out for geisha/maiko along with a few other tourist. As you can see I found a few maiko and maybe the one in the car was a geisha since she was being escorted by a few men and didn’t have any decorative head pieces on. Also below I have a a photo I took of the shoes under the doorway and a photo of the entrance where the geisha walked out of. It was quite a fun night!

にっこ Nikko and Edo Wonderland

The other day I happened to record a new show, Culture Japan with Danny Choo. He was visiting Edo Wonderland in Nikko which is a theme park recreating life  in that time period.  For those of you that don’t know what Edo is, it was between the years 1603-1868.

Nikko is located north of Tokyo.

http://www.nikko-japan.org/pdf/mapofnikko.pdf

I’ve been to Nikko once but now I must see Edo Wonderland! Here’s a photo I found of the theme park.

                 http://www.edowonderland.net/html/en/index.html

I was in Nikko in 2010 with family/friend and I could not get over how wonderful it was! We went to a shrine/temple that I thought would take all day to get to the top because of all the steps, but it was well worth it. When you got there it was beautiful! We stayed at the Kanaya Hotel and the food was french style which was really amazing! Here’s a link to the hotel’s website.  http://www.kanayahotel.co.jp/english/nikko/

Also I got to go across this suspension bridge (shown in the photo below) and later that day took a small boat under it. After taking a long walk through Nikko we came across a nice foot hot spring and drank chilled green tea.

Back to Edo Wonderland… On Danny Choo’s show he went through this awesome maze that has secert doors and passage ways that beat any corn maze I’ve been to. Also if you want they showed a give up exit which seemed pretty awesome if you can’t seem to find your way out. The other interesting thing was a building that was slanted but looked completely normal except for the fact that your leaning on a angle. Now thats something I must try. Here’s a link to Danny Choo’s site of the crazy room and other photos.

http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/26262/How+to+Become+a+Ninja+Girl.html

Here are a few other links that might be of interest.

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/tochigi/nikkousinai.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3879.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3800.html

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