Japan – Day 7: Rainy Wandering

Day 7 marked one week in Japan.  It decided to grant us rain, so we mostly stuck to the indoors.  Fortunately, stores still have plenty to offer when the outdoors are less than inviting!

Having heard about it from a gal on our bike tour, I decided to try a Japanese beauty mask.  The most popular brand is Pure Smile, and they come in all sorts of patterns, from geishas to cats.  They can be found in any convenience store.  I didn’t notice immediately radiant skin, but it was a fun little pampering. Continue reading

Japan – Day 6: Ueno & Shibuya

Day 6 was much quieter, dedicated to parks and crossings.  It was a relief to take it easy for a day.

Aaron decided to mix the morning meal up by getting the “western-style breakfast.”  For reference, according to the Japanese, this is what an American breakfast looks like.  I think they give us too much credit. With Shibuya on the agenda, I was sure to grab my tripod, and we headed out. Continue reading

Japan – Day 5: Asakusa

Day 5 saw some gentle wandering through Asakusa, our first shrines, mouth-watering food, and cats.  Every day brings new adventures; there’s no opportunity to get bored!

We began the day with a train ride to Ueno.  Our priority was to get postcards out as soon as possible (knowing they’d likely arrive after we returned to the States), so we sought out a post office, passing the line to pachinko and wandering the Ameyoko Market in the meantime. Continue reading

Japan – Day 4: Tokyo

This day was all about a day-long bike tour of the city.  Biking through Tokyo allows you to cover a lot of ground while going slowly enough for pictures and historical tidbits.  We were able to hit a lot of items on our list, and we learned far more about Japanese history and culture than we bargained for.  It was truly a day well spent!

After another breakfast at the hotel (fish, miso soup, and rice never get old!), we hopped the subway.  This was very different from the train rides up to this point, most notably due to the populous mob packed into each car.  Every day, we knew this was a possibility, and we always tried to leave early to beat rush hour, but this day, the cards were stacked against us.  But I won’t complain; it was a true Tokyo rite of passage.  At least the men with the white gloves weren’t needed. Continue reading

A Taste of Japan: Onsen/Sentou

We’re now home from our (amazing!) trip, so look forward to detailed daily overviews as I sift through the 3742 photos I took over the fourteen days.  In the meantime, I’m continuing to feature a few specific pictures.

One of the favorite pastimes in Japan is visiting onsen or sentou.  What’s the difference?  The former are natural hot springs; the latter are public baths.  The line between them has been blurred, and the terms are commonly interchanged, with true onsen explicitly calling out the natural hot springs feature of their establishment.  Modern sentou create artificial hot springs by pumping geothermally heated water, so it’s easy to confuse the two.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015 Continue reading

A Taste of Japan: Shrines

It’s difficult to visit Japan without tripping over at least a dozen shrines and temples.  While most of the Japanese population wouldn’t consider themselves particularly religious, many practice the standard rituals of visiting shrines, saying a prayer, and drawing fortunes.  The young go hoping for favorable test scores or new love; others simply wish for good luck and good health.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015 Continue reading

A Taste of Japan: Yokohama

Apologies for posting somewhat erratically here, but I can only do so when time allows (and quite frankly, I’d rather be on vacation than write about it :)).

Yokohama is a very ritzy city just south of Tokyo.  It is an area for shopping and quiet dates on the waterfront.  It is most known for its iconic clock Ferris wheel, featured in many anime.  I couldn’t get enough of the lights and that wheel!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015 Continue reading