Japan was an amazing country, one that I have always wanted to visit.
The first day there we immediately got off of the ship and toured around Kobe. Kobe, Japan is known for its amazing Kobe beef and the brewing of sake. We went to a sake brewery and a restaurant that is known for their Kobe beef. The brewery was very cool, everything was shown and explained in simple videos in English. It also wasn’t that far from the shopping district where we got to experience the delicious Kobe beef burger. After walking around for the day, we went back to the ship and met up with our friends. Almost everyone on the ship who stayed in Kobe the first night went to the same bar. It was a pretty small place but it was nice that it was all SAS students and just a good time for our last port.
The next morning we got up early and headed to Kyoto. Kyoto is about thirty minutes away from Kobe, and it is known for its cherry blossoms. We were very fortunate to get into Japan as the cherry blossoms were coming into bloom. People try to catch this their whole lives. Unfortunately it was raining while we were in Kyoto, but it didn’t stop the flowers from being gorgeous. In one of the parks, all of the trees were covered with cherry blossoms that it looked like pounds of snow. There had also been flowers that fell so it was almost all white. After walking around the park and picnicking under a little canopy, we headed to the Gold Pavilion. The Golden Pavilion is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto and it is pure gold. It was still raining when we got to the Pavilion but it was breathtaking. After taking a few pictures and tying to escape the rain, we headed to the train station where we got on a bullet train to Tokyo. It only took us two hours by bullet train to get from Kyoto to Tokyo. That night we met with my friend from Maymester (who we saw in China as well) and headed out for the night!
After a pretty relaxing night, we headed to get sushi in the heart of Tokyo, Shabuya. The hotel we were in was about three minutes walk from the biggest intersection in the world! Anyways, the sushi we went to eat was served on conveyer belts, what Tokyo is known for. It was my first time eating sushi and I absolutely enjoyed it! After eating some sushi, we went to Shabuya 109, a shopping district where harajuku girls shop. It was an endless-level shopping area that had all different types of styles and clothing. There area around it too had many different shopping. We shopped for a good portion of the day but continued the day by going further to downtown Tokyo to the Tokyo Dome to watch the Tokyo Giants take on the Dragons. Baseball in Japan is the same as going to an American Football game in America. It was insane. When we were buying tickets, we had to choose which team we wanted to root for, because like in English soccer, fights will easily break out. The taxi driver we took told us to root for the Giants so thats what we did, and right when we got inside we saw all of the other SAS students. It was very fun. After the gam we all went to Rapungee, the bar district of Tokyo where all of the SAS students again met up and went out!
The following morning we got up early and was ready for a productive day. We immediately headed over to the Tokyo Dome again, and went up the largest hotel in Tokyo where we could see every part of the city! After going up, we went to a park nearby where we sat and relaxed in front of the cherry blossoms since they were quirky dying. After the park we called a restaurant where we were dying to eat – a place called Ninja (Ill explain it in a little). We then went to Cat Street, which is where you can see all of the harajuku girls dressed up in a lot of different things – they were dressed up like dolls. Short after we arrived, the weather was rainy again so we quickly ran to cover. Little did we know we didn’t have a place to sleep so thats when the journey of Japan began. My friend from Maymester was leaving a day earlier than we thought so we ran around the city trying to find a place to stay. We went to every part of the city looking for a cube hotel or love hotel but ended up getting kicked out of every single place. The clock was getting tight on getting to Ninja for our reservation so we just quickly ran there. Right when we got there I knew it was going to be a really cool experience. Right when we walked in a Ninja came and welcomed up to the restaurant. He did all of these different ninja-like movements and took us through this dark alley way which there were tables surrounding it. Each table was gated off on its own and had little lamps and the entrance. Our waiter, I mean Ninja, gave us the menu which was on a scroll. Then he brought out all of the food and did tricks with it. We also enjoyed a magic show while we were dining. It was a very fun experience. After dinner the hunt for a place to stay was still on. We literally couldn’t find anything – everything was booked. We were even willing to spend money on a nice hotel but all of the rooms were booked. While walking around in the rain with our bags, we run into one SAS student and he tells us that he was planning to sleep at an internet cafe. So that is where we ended up. We slept in a cube. Two of us to one cube with a computer and a television in it. It was a really cool way to spend the night. Everyone in there was local and it was nice to see something that a local Japanese person would stay in for a night.
After we left the hotel in the morning we went to a nice lunch and headed to Yokohama, the city where the ship was going to meet us. When we got there we all stopped at the grocery store to stock up on food for the rest of the voyage. It was really sad that the last international port was over.
Japan was a great port and a fantastic way to end the voyage.