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A few things I noticed about Japan that differs from Korea:
  • It is expensive… comparable to the US – $2 subway rides, $10 minimum dinners
  • The men can have long hair and scruffy facial hair
  • The women are gaudy. Big fake tacky copper colored wigs, huge pink blush lines, and fake eyelashes
  • It is not as new or as clean as Korea
  • A lot more room for self expression with their clothing
  • Bars are few and far between if you aren’t in the “nightlife” strip
A breakdown of my days:
Tuesday we flew out of Incheon, and everything was going fine until we got to immigration. They only had four booths open, for maybe about 7 foreign flights. We stood in line for over an hour. By the time we got through immigration, our bags were already off the conveyer belt and lined up by customs.
On the subway and train lines in Osaka, I noticed right away that it is much dirtier and dingyer then Korean public transport systems. The decor was very outdated. Dark wood on the walls and dark green velvet seats. Quite off putting.
The hostel we stayed at was disgusting. I’m in the process of writing a very heated review on hostel world. Everytime we opened the door to our room, we got hit with the musky, moldy smell of our sleeping quarter. Thankfully we were only there for one night…
We decided to walk around and find some dinner. We went into a little restaurant that had a long bar for sushi. It was a very authentic meal. A thick piece of raw fish with wasabi and rice. I liked the tuna roll, and the salmon egg roll the best.
After I had just told Sarah how much I dislike shrimp, two guys next to us ordered us two different shrimp plates. The first one was raw, so trying not to be rude, I ate it. The second one was a grilled shrimp with its face still attached. After I told Sarah it was looking at us (yes, it still had its eyes and purple brain) neither one of us could eat it.
After sleeping on a pillow cushioned with cut up pieces of straw (my favorite) we headed to Nara. A volunteer from the YMCA was standing at tourist information and offered us a free english speaking tour of the city.

Nara has deer roaming freely everywhere. They go into stores, hangout on the curbs, and line the streets. I bought some biscuits that you can feed them…. big mistake. As soon as the deer spotted the treats,  they swarmed me.
I didn’t give one aggressive male deer a biscuit fast enough, and he butted me. Luckily, they de-antler the males, but he still have me a huge bruise. After the attempted gorring, he hissed at me before retreating.
We then went to the Todaiji Temple that houses the Big Buddha. He was made in the 8th century, and is one huge piece of cast bronze. It weighs about 450 tons. One piece of his curly hair is about the size of a human head. The temple he’s in is the biggest wooden structure in the world, and only a third of its original size (burned down in the past)
It was raining very heavily in the night and in the morning, so the trains were all delayed. Our next stop was Kyoto. When we got off at the train station, we stopped at tourist information to figure out how to get to our hostel. The woman helping us was completely clueless. She could barely read a map and had to ask the other employees how to spell things. We should have known better then to trust what she said…but we followed her directions, and ended up 20 minutes off our target. Mind you, I had all my stuff with me. Carrying a 20 lbs. backpack for 40 minutes while lost is not my idea of pleasant. Finally, we gave up and took a cab. Kyoto has very small side streets. It’s almost like little cramped alleys. So it would have been hard to find the hostel even without the woman confusing us. After getting to the hostel and settling in, we went to the Imperial Palace. You can’t go inside without permission, so we just walked the gardens surrounding the compound.
At night, we were chatting with the hostel owner and told him about our hellish experience in Osaka. When we told him which district we stayed in, he told us that was a bad area in Osaka, were the Yakuza operate out of. If you go to the street vendors who sell clothes/food and ask them for “vitamins” they will give you amphetamine injections….
The next day we used the bus system to get to the silver pavillion. In my mind, if you’re going to call something “silver” it should be leafed top to bottom with said silver. Otherwise it’s false advertising. We walked the gardens and almost left before we realized that the big wooden structure with the tiny silver top was the famed “silver pavillion.” So it was a little disappointing. Also, to get into any of the shrine/temple/castle compounds you had to pay $5 or $6. We thought we’d be able to walk around the perimetere of the sights without paying to go inside, but in fact, you have to pay to even get a peek.
After the “silver” pavillion, we went to Gion to search for geishas. We managed to snag a picture of one all done up. In a week she becomes a real-deal geisha.
After walking around a bit more, we headed back to Osaka. At tourist information, the lady had a hard time finding us a cheap hostel since it was a busy weekend with a holiday. She set us up in a decent businessman hotel that had kimono robes in the rooms. Sarah and I now have kimonos 🙂
We went to Osaka Palace on Saturday. I thought since it was a palace, we could get to see what the rooms looked from the ‘old days.’ It was set up like an exhibit, detailing how the palace was constructed over the years. I was actually disappointed with the whole thing. The outside of the palace was beautiful and the view from the observation deck was nice, but overall, it wasn’t what I wanted to see. After the castle, we took a boat tour back to our hotel area. It was a pleasant ferry ride with a jazz band playing a few songs. Not all the ferrys were open topped and with a band, so we got lucky.

We spent the rest of Saturday shopping in the Namba subway walk. The clothes were really cool, and I spent all my money on sweaters and shoes for fall 🙂
We did some more shopping, and got a train back to the airport. My bag was considerably heavier and my wallet lighter. Overall, the trip was a success!


  1. Wow, quite a fascinating account! The gaudy copper-wig-wearing women, stinky hostels, drug-dealing street vendors, outdated subway decor, and oddly un-palacelike palace interiors are def. NOT what I would have envisioned about Japan……so interesting!!! I do have a burning question, however – do the Japanese women also wear 5 inch heels everywhere under the sun, or is that a strictly Korean thing?

    • There were a few heels, but there were a lot more styles… women in sweats, or funky sneakers. If they weren’t in heels/wigs, they didn’t have makeup on or their hair done. So Korea seems like it has a lot more conformity in their clothing, and Japanese women want to express their individuality in their clothes.

  2. Did you get to sleep in those little closet size rooms at any point? Also, did you bring back any hello kitty schwag? these are critical details dear…oh and I’m working on a way to come see you that is a little questionable in terms of morals, but isn’t everything I do like that?

    Please post a link to your hostel review, if I know you, it’s downright hilarity

    • I didn’t stay in a closet room! I think that’s more Tokyo… bc I didn’t see any where I was staying. Also, no. I had every intention of getting you hello kitty EVERYTHING…but it was super expensive… like US prices… so no hello kitty..sorry love.

  3. PS I need your actual address yo.

    • My address is:
      Anna Negrusz
      Jeill Plaza, 6th Floor, 853-2 Jung-Dong
      Giheung-Gu, Yongin-City, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea

      I hope you can get here sooooon!! And I like questionable morals, so I feel right about this.

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