Japan: Travel, Culture, and Hula Hoops

I remember as a kid I would tell my Dad I wanted him to take me to Japan. In those days I was mesmerized with Harajuku fashion. The chances of that actually happening seemed to be close to 0.01%, though. Yet, this past December of 2014, during my yearly visit to the Philippines, my Dad decided we would visit Japan! Interesting how things happen, huh? We left on January 11 for our 6-day stay where we would visit Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.

We flew in as the sun was about to set, sending us on a ride through a lit-up Tokyo after arriving. As if it couldn’t get any better (I mean, we’re in Japan!), we had a 23rd floor view of the city. It was incredible. The next day we would be going to the Tokyo Tower, Imperial Palace, and another Shine that I can’t remember the name of. It was a good day in all, ending early and allowing me to go out and walk about in Tokyo. I explored the streets, drinking saki and discovered my new love for tempura and Udon Noodles at a spot I found not far from the hotel. Having been in the Philippines the prior month, I truly appreciated the sense of freedom I could have in Japan.

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Delicious Udon and Tempura

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The proof.

The third day we left Tokyo and headed for Fuji; I was prepared with my hoop. The mountain was so large we could see it from the hotel room in Tokyo. After an hour long ride out of Tokyo, we drove up to the 4th station of Mt. Fuji. You could see mountain ranges across the entire horizon from here. Despite the fact there was snow, it didn’t stop me from immediately throwing off my gloves and hoodie as I proceeded to start filming my next hoop video. I’m not gonna deny it, it was pretty badass hula-hooping on Mt. Fuji and you can watch the video at the bottom of this post!

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Next stop: Lake Ashi. Arriving, we took boat ride to the Kagome Ropeway and that ropeway took us to the top of a mountain where we could see bodies of water, green mountains, and the glorious Mt. Fuji. On the mountain itself, there was a shrine and a very natural setting that warmly welcomed you to explore. It seemed though as soon we got up, it was time to go down. From there we traveled to the train station and took the bullet train (which is the coolest train ever) to Osaka, our next day completely free to explore.

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My step-mothers first time around snow!

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The view of Mt. Fuji

I went to Shinsaibashi area in Osaka the next day to find a pair of boots and go to Neko no Jo, a cat café. I managed to take the subway all by myself (bonus points from myself) to get there, spending all day walking around and taking it in the different sights. Off the main road, there were narrow streets with shops, one after the next, loud music blasting from many, selling lolita clothing to fuzzy accessories that looks like small animals.  So, I found my boots, and found the cat café. My number one goal of going to Japan: complete. (Yes, it was to go to a cat cafe).

The next day was a tour in Kyoto and Nara. The rainy day didn’t stop me from enjoying my last tour of Japan to the fullest. We visited the places in Kyoto, including the Nijo Castle.  Then, 70 minutes away in Nara we visited the Todaji Temple, home of the world’s largest Buddha. This city was particularly interesting due to the large amounts of free roaming deer you could feed and pet. Nature and humanity joined as one here and it was a beautiful thing to experience.

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A Temple in Kyoto

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Deer in Nara

In all, Japan was an incredible experience and I can’t wait to go back! The country itself is a very organized and functioning society yet also has a vast variety of culture that anyone can find something they enjoy! Just taking a walk around the cities you will always have something different to look at and discover. If you had the opportunity to go to Japan, what would you do?! Comment below and be sure to check out my ‘Hooping Japan’ video!

Thanks for reading and happy travels!

-Kayla Marie

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