Well, it’s time to wrap up the Japan section of the trip. All in all, we loved Japan. It’s a beautiful country and we are so glad we went there. A month, it turns out, was a little long. By the end we were getting a little bored of shrines, temples, and Japanese shopping, and we’re really looking forward to a change of food.
We’re spoiled at home with a wide range of foods available to us, there is nowhere near the variety here. The fact that Pia’s allergic to fish and I’m not too keen on it adds another element because Japanese cuisine has a lot of fish in it. This not only cut back on our options, but meant we had to be very careful when ordering based on pictures rather than words (which was almost all the time). When we stayed at hostels with kitchens we had a little more control but we were still limited to what was available at the store (lots of noodles and tofu) and what we could identify.
We finished off our stay in Japan with four more nights in Tokyo, getting to see the looming Mt. Fuji on our train ride (on a bullet train) from Kyoto.
We stayed in dorms this time (separate dorms the first two nights and the same dorm the second two, as was availability dictated) in an attempt to meet some people and have a tiny approximation of a social life. It mainly showed us that we’re too old and married for dorm rooms. We did, however, meet some really nice people and succeeded in being a little social, hanging out and having beers in the common room. To further make us feel old, we went to bed when a big group decided to take the last train (midnight) to an area known for its bars with the intention of returning on the first train in the morning (6 am). It makes me tired just thinking about it.
The neighbourhood we stayed in this time was quite different from where we stayed the first time, with the surrounding area boasting quaint shopping, a temple complex, Tokyo Tower, and a bulding with a golden chilli pepper(?) on the roof.
Not far from the hostel was a street full of store that sold kitchenwares and restaurant supplies including the fake food that many Japanese restaurants display in their windows to entice you to eat there. Pia desperately wanted a keychain in the shape of a miniature bowl of ramen, but unfortunately we couldn’t find one. We did however find a giant piece of sushi on the sidewalk.
We also went to visited a cat cafe. No, a cat cafe is neither a cafe that serves cats (as food) nor a cafe that serves cats (as customers). A cat cafe is a place where you can hang out with cats (rescued strays) and have a drink if you like. It was really fun.
On the subject of cats… the Japanese love Kit Kats (how’s that for a segue?). We were Skyping with my family the other day and we mentioned Kit Kats and my eight year old nephew (unaware, I imagine, that we could hear him) says, “Oh, not that again.” So, Remy, you may want leave the room.
The Japanese have a surprising variety of Kit Kat flavours. Some of them are only available in certain regions. We bought some of them as saw them, then we went to a store in Tokyo Station that has a super wide selection.
Here are the flavours we tried:
Citrus, Sakura Matcha Latte (sakura meaning cherry blossom), and Air In (bubbly like an Aero bar)
Roasted Tea (pretty tasty actually – not unlike a Coffee Crisp)
Strawberry, and Green Tea & Cherry Blossom
Hot Japanese Chili
and Yubari Melon
In case you’re really interested in Kit Kats, here are the other flavours we saw:
Eitaro Muscovado Syrup
Red Bean Sandwich
Purple Sweet Potato
So… yeah. Kit Kats are a big thing. I think that sums up the last of our time in Japan. We caught a flight from Tokyo to Hanoi (via China) and are now in Vietnam, which we’ll tell you all about next time.