My Japan Trip Diary

My diary of my family's trip to Japan from when I was 11 years old. I went with my brother, mom and dad. I also saw a friend from California and he has family where we visited in a place to Takayama. We went to many unuausl places and met people, and I really liked the food, it was the most amazing trip!

Arriving into Japan!

When we got off the plane I felt like being sick, we had arrived in Hong Kong after a 13 hour plane ride and it was my first time ever in Asia. We were going to transfer to Osaka and from there take a bus to Kyoto. In the airport I noticed many odd and different things, for example there was a man sitting at a desk with 2 computer screens showing a thermal camera to check if people had fevers or illnesses. You could see bright orange when we walked by on the screens. I noted that most of the airlines there were ones that I had never seen before and the airport was massive with over 500 gates! There were signs in chinese everywhere which I paid little attention to, but there were the dirty seats and people were all on electronics.

Hong Kong Airport view

We waited at our gate for around 30 minutes and then we flew to Osaka. On the plane there were screens which I watched a couple movies on, but I mostly slept. Once in Japan I was amazed, there was very high security and we had to fill out all these forms and go through security. After we got through all the security which took at least an hour, we saw things that would never be found in America. There were things such as vending machines everywhere with drinks that weren’t in the US, and there was a fizzy green apple soda tasting drink which I really liked. We even saw a vending machine at the airport that sold iPads!

Japan vending machine

We took a car to Kyoto and I slept mosts of the ride. We drove awhile around see the city before the hotel even though it was right there when we arrived at Royal hotel and spa. The room was a small space but it was cozy and nice, then we explored the mall which was filled with people and then we ate dinner at an udon restaurant. The person misheard me and gave me cold soup, but it was still very yummy. The hotel had a big warm pool called an onsen. We soaked in it a long time then slept and woke up around 5 because of jet lag.

Geisha in Kyoto

It was my brother’s birthday and that day we biked around with our guide on bikes for about 6 hours trying to get to a soccer game which we watched part of. We were tired from the heat and biking and had to stop in a market to cool off and get some drinks. Kyoto is really great for biking and you can go anywhere by bike. We saw really nice bikes in the city that were not being watched and were unlocked! My dad says theft is very rare in Japan. I was realIy tired after today but it was great!

unlocked bikes in Japan
Unlocked bikes in Japan!

At night we went to a nice restaurant in an alley near the river run by a nice older woman. We ordered lots of food such as Japanese pizza, pork and eggs, and fried chicken. Wow!!! A geisha woman came and said happy birthday to Mario. She was very friendly to us. We went and got some ice cream and then slept in our apartment. We woke up in the morning and ate some buns and soup for breakfast, then we went to a temple where there was a religious ceremony and there we waited for our guide Hiroshi to come. We met our guide Hiroshi at at large temple near the river. We watched the the special ceremony going on and Hiroshi explained it all to us.

Kyoto monk ceremony

Hiroshi showed us around and we explored the mall and bought hats later. We went to the top floor of a department store and got some food which was not the best but ok. Then we walked around and chatted while we explored the mall. We went to a hat shop and got hats, I got a cool fedora which I liked and my brother got just a regular beat up hat. My brother, my mom, and I walked back to the apartment and relaxed. My dad went to a shop with Hiroshi and came a little later and then we went out to an amazing restaurant where we got the best beef that I had ever tasted. Hiroshi then took us a bar where kids can be! We enjoyed more the food there he had ordered. We said goodbye ot Hiroshi and told him we could find our hotel. Then wetried to go to see another bridge but we got lost and ended up backtracking a lot! Then we fell asleep and woke up later in the morning.

Alesso at Monkey Park KyotoI woke up at 8, my latest wake up time because I had jet lag. We ate some cereal for breakfast and then my brother, my dad, and me went to meet with Hiroshi. All of us went up the mountain to the monkey park and hiked up the hill till we saw the monkeys. They walked all around us and paid us no attention! We hiked a little further and came to the feeding station. There we bought peanuts and apples for 100 yen a bag and we got to feed the food to the monkeys through a fence so they couldn’t hurt us. There were lots of cute snow monkeys everywhere and there were a couple babies which were a little bigger than your hand. We weren’t allowed to touch them and weren’t supposed to look them in the eyes because we were told that is like challenging them and they might attack you, but they were friendly we could feed them through the fence and I fed a baby who was really tiny and cute.  One monkey kept climbing up a tree and jumping from really high into a pond like a circus! We all laughed so much and watched him for a long time.

Monkey Park Kyoto mother and baby monkey

Then we went back down the hill and walked through a rock garden and passed through the bamboo forest, then we took a taxi to a 450 year old restaurant owned by a friend of Hiroshi. We ate this stack of boxes that had noodles inside each compartment and on the side there was little spaces with different extra stuff like seaweed and egg which you are supposed to put on each compartment. So basically you put some toppings on one and pour some sauce and eat it, then you get the other compartment and put different toppings and eat it and so on. It was so tasty!

Well in Kyoto

At the end of eating we got some water used to cook the noodles and put it in a cup with a cherry blossom and poured some noodle sauce in it, we drank that and it was very interesting. I can’t really describe it because it tasted like an old watery drink that was a little sweet. Then we met up with my mom at the mall, she had been shopping while we were away and then my mom, my brother, and me went and got some ice cream and then my brother and I walked back to the apartment and waited for my parents to come home. We all then met up with Hiroshi and went to eat at this restaurant by the river. We ate there and they had very good food and the same beef which tasted amazing and super tender, it melted like butter in my mouth and made my mouth water because the flavor was so great.

Then we left and went to a place owned by Hiroshi’s friend and my brother and we weren’t supposed to be allowed in there but we went in anyway after Hiroshi talked with him and got some drinks. My brother and I got ginger ale and my parents got gin, Hiroshi got a scotch which is also called Japanese whiskey. We met a Shiba Inus on the walk to the hotel who was really cute. Then we went home at super late around 11:00 and fell asleep,

I woke up late in the morning again because I was over jet lag. We packed our bags and dropped them off at the hotel, then we met with Hiroshi and took a subway. After the subway we got some food and took the bullet train (Shinkansen) to the station! The train was super fast - it goes around 250 miles per hour and it took only 15 minutes.

Shinkansen bullet train Osaka

At the station we took another 1 and a half hour train to Mount Koya station. There we took up another lift which is one of the steepest in the world and arrived in Koya town. We all met with one of Hiroshi’s old friends who is a nun and wears a special dress. She showed around most of the town and temples. One temple had the largest rock garden in Japan with no plants and only small and big rocks.

Banryutei Rock Garden Koyasan

She told us all about her life as a nun and why Koya was so special in Japan because it was where Buddhist religion came to Japan. Then we all went to the monastery we were staying at that was run by monks. We said bye to Hiroshi because we would see him later in Tokyo. A monk took us to our room which was really big and they gave us tea, robes and towels. We ate dinner which was a huge selection of all vegetarian food sorted into neat boxes, it was kind of funky but I liked some of it. There was a special tofu that was like pudding and really good.

Alesso visiting temple in Koyasan

Then we put on our robes and went to the onsen, a hot spring bath which was very hot. There were 4 baths at the Monastery, 2 for men and 2 women. We went to the 2nd men’s one and there was nobody there so we relaxed in the water, first we cleaned ourselves in the warm shower with soap and shampoo, then we went in the onsen which was a natural spring pool around 108 degrees! I didn’t go in because it was too hot but i played with the shower and poured buckets of warm water over my head. Then we went back to our room and relaxed, we all fell asleep early because we would have to wake up at 6 the next day.

Danjo Garan temple Koyasan, Japan

We woke up at six the next day and went to the prayer at 6:30. For some reason we thought we had to wear our robes which are only for the onsen and are really only pajamas. This was really funny because we showed up in our pajamas to the prayer. We then hid in the corner. We left early to go change and decided not to disturb the prayer again, then we went down to breakfast which was a plate of vegetarian dishes such as rice, vegetables, pickled food and other funky items!

vegetarian dishes in Koyasan monastery
Our vegetarian dinner at monastery was served by the monks

We ate and then went up to our room where we packed up to leave, we left the place and went to go to the cemetery. We hiked to the cemetery which is one of the most sacred places in Japan.

CHild in robes at monastery in Koyasan
Overnight at the monastery!

We hiked along all the tombs which were all strange and different from each other like a movie. Some were small with coins around it, some were big with gold writing, some were a pyramid of tombs, some were from world war 2 and they were all amazing and the graves went on and on for longer than a mile. This place was very sacred and Shoguns and Samurais and important people were buried here, we hiked the main route and there were so many graves I couldn’t even make a guess how many there were. At the end there was a temple called the Kukai temple, it is one of the most sacred and important temples in Japan because it was a temple made for Kukai, a Chinese person who brought Buddhist religion to Japan. We went in and there were golden lanterns, candles and everything there. There was lots of incense and it was the quietest place ever and we explored the big temple and saw all the paintings and all of the sacred items inside the temple.

Okunoin Cemetery path, Koyasan Japan

Then we took a different path back through the cemetery and saw lots more stone graves and buildings. We arrived back in town and walked to the bus stop. Then we decided since we had around 30 minutes we should walk to the other bus stop. Once we arrived there we walked to the next and so on till we reached the 6th one and stopped there and waited for the bus. We took the bus back to the cable car and took it back down to the train statiom, there we took 2 trains back. Afterwards we took subway and then bullet for 15 minutes and ate lunch. Then we took the subway again and then we arrived at the hotel, the room wasn’t ready yet so we went to the Nijo castle which wasn’t all that great as other places we had saw but we explored the whole thing and saw all the defenses and moats and all.

We went back to the hotel right as it started raining and then went to our room. All of us except my brother went to the onsen which was full of carbonated water! It was empty once again and the onsen wasn’t as hot so I went in and it felt so good, when you looked at our own arm under water it was covered in bubbles and it felt tingly. We went back to the hotel room and then my parents went out to dinner and my brother and I stayed back at the hotel till they came back, my parents weren’t full with their dinner so they brought back more soup which we made and ate. We went to sleep in our comfy beds and woke up late in the morning.

Family on roof of Mori Museum, Tokyo

We ate cereal and fruit for breakfast and packed our bags, we were heading to Tokyo! We got lunch and took the Shinkansen for around 3 hours. When we got off we had arrived in Tokyo, but Tokyo is huge so we took a car with our driver to our large room where we took the elevator up and made it to our room. It was a nice spacious place with 2 large rooms and a bathroom. Gen the person who manages it came and brought us some food and told us about the place and how to use things. We thanked him and then went out for a walk, we saw this good looking Korean style food and we ate some fast food there. It was cheap, but it tasted really good and the portions were even bigger than the pictures! Everyone got this cooking bowl of rice with beef and egg, but I got this delicious curry with egg, beef and rice. We got vanilla flan for dessert, and my brother and I split a flan and this blue soda ice and cream which tasted like those marble sodas.

We headed back to the room for a while, we went to bed and woke up late the next morning. My dad took my brother and I to the bus station where only my brother and I took a 4 hour bus to Takayama to stay with our Japanese friend Kai from California. We met with Kai and went to a really good bakery and got some tasty pastries. Then we went back to his grandparents house and we stayed there. We played cards and soccer and walked around, we went to the river once and we ate really good food there for 2 days. We even ate at a sushi place where there was a train of sushi dishes going around which you could eat freely and order food. After that we all drove a couple hours to Nagano which was his aunt’s house.

Akihabara street crossing

There we stayed for a couple more days. It was a remote place up in the mountains with lots of onsens which we went to, including a giant outdoor one that was really pretty. We also played some soccer and did some fireworks, the others we couldn’t do because the neighbors would get upset so we packed those. We stayed inside and the house was really big with tons of movies and a big TV which Kai thought was the best. We watched a couple movies like the Gods must be Crazy and a not so scary Omen 666 which was about a devil boy who killed people and he would end humanity. We met some of his cousins who were nice and we played with them a little. Finally we had to leave and my brother and I took a 2 hour bus back to Tokyo.

We met my dad and got some dinner of tempura which was so good and after we were exploring some of the shops and wild arcades. We went back to a place we were moving into. It was a big hotel like condo with over 40 floors and basically brand new. We went to our room where the hadn’t even installed beds or anything and we slept on futons like at the monastery. My dad said this was how a lot of people sleep in Japan. The next day we met with Hiroshi and a family he was touring around and we went to the Miho Museum with a Star Wars exhibit which was kind of dorky, but there was a cool view out all the floors and from the roof. We got a snack at starbucks and then split up, my dad my brother and I went to meet with my dad’s friend Willard. My mom went for shopping.

Tokyo skyline view from the Miho Museum

We met with Willard and his son and got dinner, then they left and we took a long subway to see a pro soccer game. The soccer game was packed and almost all the seats were taken, it was Tokyo FC vs S Pulse. The game was good and all the players were really amazing, they passed the ball quickly and already knew what they were doing before they even had the ball. Tokyo FC scored a great goal when someone got a break away and juked the goalie. In the 2nd half S Pulse tied it with a great shot, but Tokyo FC came back with an amazing juke and curve shot into the goal. Then Tokyo FC scored another goal from a penalty kick which was a great curve shot which bounced off their players head into the goal. We left 10 minutes early so we missed S Pulse scoring again but Tokyo FC won 3-2 in the end. We took a subway home and then a taxi back to our place, we fell asleep on our futons and woke up in the morning.

I woke up at 5 AM with a bloody nose but went back to sleep after it was cleaned up. I woke up later and ate some breakfast, we chilled at our place and went to the gym and pool. We didn’t do much that day, I just rested in our place and walked around a little bit. My dad and my brother went biking with a guide named Akira for most of the day but I just stayed at our place and took a nap and rested from all the walking we have been doing.

Family bicycle tour in Tokyo

They got home and they were really sore from all the biking so we did not walk much. The next day we stayed at our place for a little while and then we went out.

We met up with our guide and we all walked around Shinjuku, which was full of neat stuff like VR games. We walked around with them and explored some shops. My brother and I took the train to the Tokyo Dome. There we ate some delicious fried chicken and then went into the stadium to watch the Tokyo Giants play baseball against Hiroshima. Baseball in Japan is really different and wild with drums and singing! Nothing happened in the game until one home run was hit in the 8th inning and everyone went crazy!

We went back to the apartment and went to sleep, we woke up the next day and I slept in late. My brother and I were going to go to the bus station to see Kai who was staying with us, my dad couldn’t come because he had a meeting call. My brother and I left at around 11:00 to pick up Kai, we arrived at the bus station a couple minutes before Kai’s bus came in. We met up with Kai and walked around and got lunch, we had really good udon with egg for lunch and then we walked around and explored some shops for a little bit before meeting up with my dad and our guide.

Yoyogi Park gate, Tokyo

We walked around with my dad and our guide and explored lots of places including Meiji shrine and Shibuya. Shibuya was super busy, with people everywhere. We ate at an amazing kebab place which had juicy wraps with great sauce on it, after that we walked around more and took the subway home.

Tokyo is really super modern and we saw some amazing things. At the Nike store we wore oculus rift goggles that played like you were playing in a game as Ronaldo. We also visited the science museum which had a talking robot that looked like a real person.

Nike store Tokyo Oculus Rift

We rested there and went to sleep, we woke up late the next morning and missed the fish market. You have to wake up before sunrise! But Hiroshi came by and said he had a surprise. He took us a place that looked like a gym and when we walked in there was sumo wrestlers! It was a their place called a stable where they live and workout. We watched them practice and then ate some soup with them. They were huge! We took some photos and they goofed off lifting me up and pretending to wrestle me. It was amazing!

Family visiting sumo stable in Japan

We then went for lunch with Hiroshi and then went to the technology museum and we stayed there and explored the exhibit. It was really fun and there was lots of simulators and things you could control and interact with. There were strange things like an android robot which looked human and spoke!

After the museum we ate hot dogs for lunch and walked around with Hiroshi. My mom went shopping and we then went to Shinjuku with my dad and Hiroshi to the bus station because Kai was leaving. His bus left at 3:20 and we all said bye to him, then the three of us walked around and explored some of the streets. We later took the subway back and ate at the soccer field Italian restaurant. We ordered pizza and some pasta, both tasted amazing and it was great Italian food. I ate half of the pasta and some of the pizza, then we walked back to our room and relaxed.

The next morning Asami and Hiroshi came to say goodbye. We went by train to the airport and then took our flight.

The end!

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