I was told I cannot miss out on Nara when hanging out in the Kansai region (Where Kyoto and Osaka is). And they were right.
I got the local train and about 40 minutes later I was there. And then a short walk from the station to Nara Park.
Funny thing happened. When I was looking at the map over Nara I recognised the girl next to me. I had a brief chat with her and her friend who stayed in the same dorm as me in Kyoto a couple of days ago! She was planning on walking up the mountain/hill to get a better view of the city, so I joined her.
And then we reached the top.
And then we headed back down again.
The deer are usually polite, they even bow to you when you walk by (trying to get food). But sometimes they get a bit rude.
And that was it. We got some snacks from 7-Eleven and then I got the train back to Osaka and Julia was going to stay a couple of days in Nara.
Back in Osaka I had a shower and then went out again to get something to eat. Arisa had recommended a good place for Okonomiyaki so that’s where I went.
It’s been a long day so I was happy to get back to my small room where I fell asleep straight away.
My main reason I wanted to go to Osaka was this. The Harry Potter World at Universal Studios Japan.
Trying to get a ticket online was a nightmare, so I ended up going to USJ early in the morning to queue instead. Apparently you could be standing there for hours but it turned out fine. I wasn’t very bothered about the rest of the world, but for the Harry Potter World you need to reserve a time slot to gain entry which my was my top priority.
I had about 30 min to check out the rest of USJ until I could visit HPW.
And then it was time. I rarely get visibly excited about things but for this I couldn’t stop smiling.
A couple of minutes walk through a “forest” before reaching Hogsmead.
29°C warm and the “snow covered” roofs didn’t really match. But that didn’t matter, there was so much to look at. And compared to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio in London you could actually enter all the shops.
You could buy Chocolate frogs, Every-flavour beans, Pumpin juice, Jumping Snakes, Chocolate Wands, Fudge Flies, Fizzing Whizzbees, Peppermint Toads, Candy Floss, Exploding Bonbons, and more. It was extremely busy in there though.
You could go on the “Flight of the Hippogriff” ride too, but I’m not a big fan of rides.
Instead I went for a walk inside Hogwarts. And of course there was a queue for that too. I had plenty of time though.
It’s weird to see and hear Salazar’s and Helga’s portraits having a conversation in Japanese.
When I got back out the queue to the Butterbeer shop was shorter, so I got myself a Iced Butterbeer. Better than the normal (that’s also served in London)
While I was having a break, trying to take it all in, a couple of kids came up to me and wanted a picture (weirdly enough this kept on happening and it’s confusing every time)
Way pass lunchtime I got hungry and decided to eat at The Three Broomsticks (It wasn’t a hard decision)
I was amazed by this building. Felt like an old english pub but with the quirkiness of the magical world. I’m surprised it was so cosy even though it was so busy.
I ordered “The Hogwarts feast for one”, tasty. Although the roasted potatoes weren’t that great.
You could access the Hog’s Head from here. They even had Fire Whiskey at the back (not sure if you could buy that though…). But they had their own beer called the Hog’s Head Brew. While enjoying my lunch I thought that it would be cool to open a pub like this in Stockholm. Sweden need to take more from the English culture. And especially when it’s Harry Potter inspired. I reckon this would work in Stockholm.
After a couple of hours at the Harry Potter World it was still hard to leave, it felt like home, but I decided to head back.
When I arrived in Osaka I got the tube to Shinimamiya to check in at my hostel. I was only planning on staying in Osaka for three nights so I got a cheap hostel. I didn’t know anything about Osaka but when I got to the hostel that area felt a bit… rough.
I spent most of the day at the hostel, doing my laundry, planning my trip and updating the blog.
But when I got bored of that I went into Namba to check out the more buzzing areas.
My last day in Kyoto. And I felt sad about leaving this city. There was still plenty things to see, but I’ll do that another time. Today I was heading to the Golden Pavilion Temple, Kinkaku-ji.
Instead of a noise they play different kinds of bird sounds when there’s green light at the crossings. (cuckoo-cuckoo)
I was passing by a lot of temples and shrines on my way there since Kyoto is full of them.
There are so many temples and shrines in Kyoto, all very beautiful. This one definitely stands out though. I remember me as a 17 year old kid looking at pictures the Golden Pavilion, and how much I wanted to go there. Now when I’m here it didn’t feel that special. Of course the building is spectacular. But it just felt like another tourist attraction.
I found a restaurant nearby to for a late lunch and a sit down.
I walked back to the central Kyoto when I found this really cute postcard/print shop. I rarely buy postcards, but this time I couldn’t resist.
I found a café nearby called Cafe Bibliotic Hello!
I’m sitting by the window which is covered by big plants. In the background tacky Hawaiian music is playing on low volume and the girl next to me is knitting something. The man opposite me is really enjoying his cigarette, and I’m thinking that it feels so cinematic and old fashioned to smoke indoors. Two girls a couple of years older than me keeps coming by the large bookshelf where I’m sitting to replace their magazines they’ve finished reading.
I like this café, I feel calm to be here and in Japan. It’s a new environment where everything feels exciting.
On my way back to the hostel I walked by a small market where they were selling a lot of weird stuff. And a lot of fish that almost made me throw up because of the smell.
Back at the hostel I sat down in the back of the bar to enjoy a draft beer and to rest me feet, before I needed to back my bags to be ready to leave Kyoto early tomorrow morning.
I met up with my new friends Lovisa and Magnus at the hostel’s bar/cafe for breakfast. We weren’t feeling great after yesterday so it was a slow start of this day.
Lovisa was very keen on going to the Kyoto Aquarium, so that’s what we did.
I wasn’t planning on watching a dolphin show, but they had one, and I have to admit it was pretty cool.
After some lunch I felt better so me and Magnus went to see the Fushimi Inari Shrine and the 1000 torii gates.
On the way there we got invited to a local show and stopped to watch for a bit.
My favourite bit was to listen and see this, a group playing Japanese drums, Taiko. So powerful and so in sync it gave me goosebumps.
It was a weekday and the sun was setting, but there were still a lot of people visiting the gates. But the further up the mountain we got the more people dropped off.
When we got down the evening sky and light was beautiful.
I was exhausted (but very happy) after today so I sat down in the back of the hostel bar to read my book.
There’s something special to read Murakami in Japan. To now be able to related to the places he’s mentioning.
Although the rainy seasons had not been declared officially over the Tokyo sky was intensely blue and the midsummer sun beat down on the earth.
To have even more effect I always listen to the music that’s mentioned in the books. Which usually is a lot of classical pieces or jazz.
I prefer listening to something when I read, otherwise I can’t get into a book.
Ever since I read my first Murakami book I’m always listening to the same soundtrack. A album that is very precious to me, Aoi Hana – Yuko Sasama & Ryozan Sakata. To me this is a perfect match to the feeling I get from reading anything from Murakami.
When I woke up all my room mates were out of bed and gone already. So I thought I should do the same. Let’s go explore Kyoto!
I found this hidden french/japanese cafe, Cafe Kocsi, where I had a really nice potato soup for lunch.
It was pouring down again, but after a long break I decided to continue to the first temple (To be honest, there are so many shrines and temples so I can’t remember the name of it)
Before I was on my way to another temple a group of school kids approached me, reading from a paper “Can we ask you some questions?” Like the people I’ve met before they wanted to know what I was doing in Japan and where I was from. I guessed they had a school assignment to go speak english to people.
I’ve always found traditional Japanese architecture beautiful. I would have liked to see the construction of a temple in the old days.
I walked around in this area for a bit, I just found it so relaxing. There weren’t many people around. But there was one more temple I wanted to see today, and I decided to take a longer route there because I found these stairs. I couldn’t resist finding out where they would take me.
They led to an abandoned water park. But the road continued up hill form there and I decided to follow it until I hopefully reached the top of this mountain.
The road got smaller and smaller until I reached what sadly was the top of this mountain, a car park. But on the way there a couple of cars had stopped on the side and I wondered why. I had a quick look. An old man sat in the drivers seat drawing Hentai.
To get to the temple I was planning on going I had to go down half of this mountain and then back up on another one.
I came up on the wrong side, but that was worth it, just because I got the see the temple from the distance.
I’ve heard about this, if you can walk from this stone to the other one with your eyes closed you’ll be lucky for the rest of your life. Or something like that.
Correction: They’re love stones. If you manage to walk from one to the other, you’re suppose to find true love.
With a tired mind and feet I ended up at the bar at the hostel, planning on having a early night. But instead I met two swedes who reminded me it was Midsummer in Sweden now.
So we went to a karaoke place near the hostel to sing some ABBA.
We left the Ryokan early in the morning and went to get to tube, but in different directions. Tobias was flying back to Stockholm and I was going to Tokyo station to take the Shinkansen to Kyoto.
Since I did’t buy the Rail pass in advance I started to get a bit worried how much it would cost me to buy the ticket the same day. I recommend you to actually look in to that, might be worth it even if you’re only going to one more city…
A good thing though is that I got to try the fastest train (Nozomi N700), which the rail pass doesn’t cover.
I checked in at my hostel, K’s House. I’m going to spend 4 nights here, sharing with 7 other people. I hadn’t read much about it, but trusted the high ranking.
I left most of my stuff and went on walk to find a quiet café to spend the afternoon in, avoiding the rain. Because rain season have now started.
I found a place called efish overlooking the river, people sat there to work, read, and to write their memoirs. It was quiet and friendly.
I ordered a tuna sandwich and to my surprise it was served with potato mash, realised how miss potatoes.
I spent most of the day there, gathering my thoughts and planning what I should do next. I still needed to find a place to stay in Osaka after these four days.
When it got dark I went back to the hostel to see what the bar was like.
Such friendly staff, I sat by the bar and chatted about living abroad over a beer for a while. Until the girl a couple of seats away from me said that East London was no good. So we ended up chatting. Until a older man walked in and sat down next to me. I spent two hours listning to his stories, he didn’t really want to hear my view of things. An interesting man, but I felt a bit sorry for him, he seemed to regret a lot of things in his life.
We had a really chilled morning with some green tea that is prepared for every guest.
I’ve only packed my backpack for a week, so it was time to do my laundry.
It wasn’t very confusing but it took the chance to speak to the only person in there about what washing powder I should get or how the machines worked.
One thing that was on my list of things to do was this, visiting a Moomin cafe (there are two main ones).
I got (a bit strange) rice omelette with the face of Moomin drawn in ketchup, with sort of a goulash and a Bechamel sauce. It was alright.
The best was the music though, they were playing music from the soundtrack and repeated Snuffkin’s (Snusmumriken) harmonica melody. I was happy.
They also had a little shop with Moomin merch. I wanted to get a cute iphone 6 case even though I don’t own one. And Moomin mugs I haven’t seen before.
We continued to Ueno park which was close by.
I really need to go back in the spring, because all these trees are cherry blossom trees. I couldn’t really imagine everything being pink. It must be magical.
As I mentioned before I didn’t plan my trip in detail, so I never looked into areas I wanted to visit until I was here. But one place I’ve always heard about was Akihabara. The nerd mecca.
The sound was overwhelming when you entered the stores, all arcades blasting out sound in full volume. The businessmen and students who spent their Monday here looked like they’ve been doing it for a long time, just by looking at their pro skills in these games.
10 years ago (when I was only 17) I would have wanted to buy everything here. Every manga and every single piece of anime merchandise. Things have changed and I grew out of that. Probably a good thing, otherwise my non-existing house would have been full of shit. I was still tempted to buy my favourite manga from that time, but in Japanese. I’m restricting myself to buy anything until I’m back from Kyoto and Osaka.
We headed back to Shibuya to chase the last sunlight of the day.