Karting around Tokyo in our Marion costumes was by far the best experience we had on this trip. It was amazing to drive around the streets of Tokyo. If you are a fan of Mario Brothers like we were growing up, then this is an experience to remember. It was fun and exhilarating. People also constantly took pictures of us and especially kids would wave at us when they saw us. That was enjoyable to experience. Our Mario Kart Tokyo experience was courtesy of a company called Maricar. They have several offices in Tokyo and you can choose on a range of itinerary, area and time.
On our first night in Tokyo, we did not have much time as we arrived at the Hotel Villa Fontaine Tokyo in the afternoon. We settled and rested for a bit and after, we decided to explore a part of Tokyo at night and have dinner as well. We took the subway from Tamachi station and stopped at Shibuya
Tokyo is known for small spaces specially with hotels on a budget. We were looking for hotels to book for this trip. We were attracted particularly with this Hotel Villa Fontaine Tokyo because of the size. It was a bit larger than regular Japanese hotel rooms but not by much. We saw the pictures online and it looked roomier than in actual life. We also chose it because the location was good. They have many hotels in Tokyo and we stayed in the Tamachi branch. Hotel Villa Fontaine Tokyo also included breakfast.
I have traveled to Japan three times before but this is the first time that I have tried the bullet train or Shinkansen in Japanese. For this trip, it was a must do experience on our list. One of the many firsts I’ve done on this Japan itinerary which mainly visited Osaka and Tokyo. The bullet trains on this route are aplenty. There are even three different kinds you can choose from. We went with the fastest one since YOLO! Haha. What we didn’t realize when we were planning the trips was it was golden week. On on a normal day, you have no problem buying tickets from the day itself but since it was golden week, I opted to buy tickets online to make sure we get to Tokyo in time and on that day. Our tickets can only be bought the week before by the agency so we opted for them to be mailed at the hotel in Osaka. We had no problem receiving them on time. Same with our pocket wifi.
Gion is the Geisha district of Kyoto. People come here for a chance to see a real geisha. It is lined up with traditional tea houses. There are also modern patisseries in the area. Most geishas and maikos perform at these traditional tea houses. We walked around the area after visiting the temples of Kyomizudera nearby.
Kyomizudera is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Kyomizudera means “pure water temple” and it houses the Otowa waterfall. It derives its name from the pure water falls. It is known for the wooden stage on the hillside which has nice vantage points of the greenery surrounding the temple. It also has the Jishu Shrine which is a deity for love. The complex also has the pagoda which can be seen from a distance.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is a shrine famous for it’s bright orange Torii gates. It’s the shrine for the god Inari. Inari is traditionally the god of rice but businessmen also worshiped Inari. Most of the orange torii gates are donated by businesses. The Fushimi Inari Shrine sits on the base of the mountain. I had come here before and it was one of my favorite places in Kyoto so I decided to include it on this trip again.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is one of the popular sights in Kyoto. Entrance is free and anyone can go through the grove of bamboos. It’s open 24/7 and they say that you can take great pictures in the early morning. I’ve always wanted to see it because of the amazing photos I’ve seen on the internet. We did not get a chance to visit it last time I was in Kyoto so I made sure to include it in this trip’s itinerary.
Nara Park is infamous for its deers that freely roam the complex. It is located in the city of Nara in Japan, an hour from Osaka. The public park was established in the 1300s. It is one of the oldest parks in Japan. The park has shrines around the area as well as gardens and parks. There are also a number of restaurants and stores that line up the street from the station and walking to Nara park.
Osaka Castle is the first day we visited on our second day on this 8 day Japan trip. We were supposed to go on the first day but since we could not check in early at our hotel and go about our day after, we skipped this on our first day. The Osaka Castle was the biggest castle built in its time. The castle complex is huge. It is surrounded with gates, moats and gardens.