Category Archives: Japan

Strolling Among the Cherry Blossoms in DC

Last year, we were fortunate enough to be living in Asia during cherry blossom season. We saw the beautiful blooms in Seoul, Tokyo, and Osaka, along with the large, excited crowds that flocked to view and photograph them. We’re talking tripods and selfie sticks everywhere. But when you see them in person, it’s easy to understand why. The white and pink petals brighten up any landscape, as if straight out of a fairytale.

So when spring finally reared its head in Northern Virginia, we knew we needed to make the trip to Washington, D.C. to experience the short-lived cherry blossoms.

First, a little history on how these cherry blossoms even ended up in the United States. The existing 3,000 cherry trees arrived in D.C. in 1912, a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo. (The first batch of 2,000 trees arrived diseased in 1910.) According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website, “in a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park.” The annual festival celebrates the lasting ties between both countries.

20160326_132245

I have to admit, we weren’t expecting much. After all, we’d seen “the real deal” in Japan — how could these possibly compare? I’m happy to say we were pleasantly surprised. We rode the motorcycle into D.C. to avoid any parking headaches, and made our way to the Tidal Basin, where we found eager throngs competing for the best photo ops. Continue reading Strolling Among the Cherry Blossoms in DC

Osaka’s Sea Creatures, Cherry Blossoms & Castle Views

We hadn’t planned on visiting the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, but we had some time to kill after returning from Nara. The aquarium is located in the Tempozan Harbor Village in the Port of Osaka, basically a mall with shops and eateries and a large ferris wheel.

IMG_1798

IMG_1802

IMG_1803 Continue reading Osaka’s Sea Creatures, Cherry Blossoms & Castle Views

The Magnificent Temples of Kyoto & Nara, Part 2

I wasn’t sure what to expect of Nara. Will had told me it had probably his favorite temple in Japan, ok. But I hadn’t heard much about this city, didn’t know much about it.

We woke to some spring showers that day, grabbed our umbrellas and headed off. Thankfully the rain made for fewer tourists out and about. As we walked toward Nara Park, Will started speaking cryptically:

“I wonder if they’ll still be there, with the rain….”

Me: “Who?”

Will: “They’re usually walking around….”

Me: “….Like, park rangers?”

Will: “Yeah … something like that. You’ll see.”

It didn’t take long to discover what he was talking about. As soon as we turned into the park…. Continue reading The Magnificent Temples of Kyoto & Nara, Part 2

The Magnificent Temples of Kyoto & Nara, Part 1

I didn’t know this until recently, but Kyoto is the former imperial capital of Japan (794-1868). Having been the country’s capital and the emperor’s home for more than 1,000 years, it is home to many important temples and shrines.

Our day in Kyoto was quite the adventure! Mainly trying to figure out which buses to take — it’s a fairly big city, roughly 1.5 million people, and the temples are spread out all over the city — but Will did a great job getting us where we needed to go. (Starting at the main bus depot at Kyoto Station, across from Kyoto Tower Hotel, which you can see below.)

IMG_1536

Train ride from Osaka to Kyoto, not bad at all.
IMG_1539

IMG_1541 Continue reading The Magnificent Temples of Kyoto & Nara, Part 1

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 Continue reading Spring Showers & Flowers in Japan