Tokyo – Nagano – Nagoya – Kyoto, Japan
Mostly went to the usual tourist places. In Odaiba however I went to see the National Museum of Emerging Science, which had a DORAEMON (A blue robot cat from the future, a famous Japanese Manga/anime character) exhibition, well an exhibition about robots, based on Doraemon. Which was interesting and translated to English. It was really fun and we got to meet ASIMO an actual working robot who can play football.
In Mitaka it is of course the Ghibli museum. You have to buy the ticket in advance. The ticket includes 1 showing of a film that is only available there. The museum is more of Hayao Miyazaki studio and how the animation work etc. You are not allowed to take photos inside the museum. =( It has two shops, in which I can only afford a pack of postcards, and to be honest there is not much choice. But even the signs from the station to the museum is cool! I decided to go to another bigger shop in Nagoya for the Ghibli shop. Oh and don’t forget to go on the roof for the Laputa Robot.
Nagano is a small town, where we stayed in a nice small Ryokan with an onsen. The Ryokan is really near the Zenko-Ji Temple. I had a purple soft ice in one of the shops, it was nice but I didn’t know what it taste of, I bought one of each flavour of these buckwheat pancakes. From Nagano we went to Hotaka Station where we visit Daio Wasabi Farm (this wasn’t plan), when we got there we hired a bicycle and wanted to go to this onsen, but too tired to cycle upwards we decided to try the farm. Which was a great decision, thoroughly enjoyed it, I would recommend it to anyone, they have Wasabi beer, Wasabi Icecream, Wasabi Juice, Wasabi Cheese the best one is Wasabi Burger. YUMM!!
On the way to Nagoya I went to Matsumoto town, just because I want to hear the famous train station that said Matsumoto in a melodic way. I also saw this weird sculpture of a flower, which a year later I realise it is by Yayoi Kusama the famous artist.
In Nagoya we went mainly to visit Toyota Commerative Museum, which was really really good. They had guides explain most of the intriguing machines. We also went to the Nagoya Castle where we met a lovely gentlemen who started talking in English randomnly, to us as he was learning the language. In Nagoya we also found Loft, this amazing shop which sells items for your house, bento boxes, bento accessories, stickers, and other cool Japanese things. Check it out if you are there, apparently they are everywhere in Japan
Visit Japan in time for any of the Matsuri (festival), they have Matsuri every season. The festival consist of night market selling all sorts of food, there are lots of games and lots of people wearing their Kimonos. If you are a fan of manga or anime like me, you would know that beside a school festival, a town’s matsuri is quintessential Japanese. I bought a Kimono before the night and wore it through the night, it was difficult to put on. =(
In Kyoto the Matsuri is for harvest season I think and during the night market you can see different floats from different families and groups that in the morning they will participate in a procession/carnival. I really do think it is worth to go during a Matsuri. =D If nothing else just to see the super fast way of how the Takoyaki man turns his takoyaki, I think it might be faster than his shadow. =D
My other post about Japan gives you more tips about traveling in a budget.