Spring Showers & Flowers in Japan

I’m glad we went back to Japan. Our previous trip in February was fun, and we got to see much of Tokyo, but this time we got to experience springtime in Japan (including the beautiful cherry blossoms) and I was able to visit Osaka, Kyoto and Nara for the first time. Truly a trip to remember! Not to mention our smooth ride on the Shinkansen bullet train.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I have many photos to share with you, so I’ll split this into a couple posts and try to keep them brief — unlike last time!

First, we had a day in Tokyo (well, I did. Will had to work.) I revisited the Imperial Palace grounds, including the Imperial Palace East Gardens, where I got my first glimpse of Japan’s world-renowned cherry blossoms. It was late March, so it was still fairly early in the season, but I lucked out and managed to see numerous trees that were slightly full. The weather was great for a stroll.

IMG_1278

IMG_1282

IMG_1290

IMG_1291

IMG_1299

Yes, be warned! You’re going to see LOTS of cherry blossom pictures in the next couple of posts. 🙂 How can I resist?

Next, I headed to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, which is a huge and wonderful place to spend hours walking, picnicking, reading a book under a tree, whatever pleases you. The 144-acre park is divided into three different styles of gardens — French formal garden, English landscape garden and Japanese traditional garden. I loved it. I wanted to see as much of it as I could, so I kind of power walked it, but I would’ve loved to have stayed longer.

IMG_1308

IMG_1323

IMG_1325

IMG_1326

IMG_1330

IMG_1332

IMG_1339

IMG_1356

IMG_1357

IMG_1362

IMG_1365

IMG_1372

IMG_1386

IMG_1388

IMG_1390

IMG_1392

IMG_1395

My feet were killing me. But I found myself walking down to Harajuku to see what the area is like in the evening. Saw a few new things from last time, including a Kiddy Land store that had an entire floor dedicated to Snoopy/Peanuts merchandise! My mom would’ve loved that.

IMG_1399

IMG_1404

IMG_1411

IMG_1417

IMG_1420

IMG_1423

IMG_1425

IMG_1429

IMG_1431

Cat sushi. I know, random! Ok anyway, the next day we took the Shinkansen bullet train down to Osaka. Definitely an incredible experience! The train is really nice inside, much more spacious and comfortable than an airplane. It goes crazy fast and yet the ride is very smooth, though you can only look out the window at the scenery for a few seconds before you start getting dizzy. Oh, and it passes fairly close to Mt. Fuji, so that was cool to get to see it again. (These pics and videos are a mix of  both the trip there and the return.)

IMG_1996

On the Shinkansen bullet train

IMG_1447

IMG_2005

20150331_104416

Once we arrived in Osaka, we met up with our friend, who showed us around the Shinsekai neighborhood, known for its giant blowfish and Billiken statues, and took us to eat kushikatsu for lunch. Kushikatsu are basically deep-fried, skewered meats and vegetables that you dip into a Worcestershire-type sauce (I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but the sauce tin gets reused from customer to customer, which is why they have a no-double-dipping rule!). It’s a small but nice area with many retail stands and eateries. There’s also the Tsutenkaku Tower and a zoo, hence the animal butt pictures plastered all over the subway station. Haha.

IMG_1461

Kushikatsu

IMG_1463

IMG_1466

IMG_1676

IMG_1470

IMG_1471

IMG_1473

IMG_1474

IMG_1479

IMG_1528

We spent the rest of our first day in Osaka exploring places like the Hankyu HEP Five mall and the Dotonbori area, which is a popular, pedestrian friendly waterfront area known for its giant crab, Glico running man sign and many eateries. It gets super busy at night, but the views  are great from the bridges and walking along the river is relaxing.

Umeda subway station

IMG_1483

IMG_1484

Tight squeeze on the train!

IMG_1490

Dotonbori area

Glico running man

IMG_1498

IMG_1503

IMG_1507

20150327_185327

20150327_190730

You know I took way more photos than this. To see more pictures of Tokyo, go here. To see more pictures of our first day in Osaka, go here.

Up next: The amazing temples of Kyoto and Nara.

Advertisements

One thought on “Spring Showers & Flowers in Japan”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s