Japan Diary: Day 023 & 024 (Our Last Day)

Day 023 & 024 

Tokyo & Flying Home 
Our flight home to England (via Dubai) was at 9pm so we planned to spend the day with our friend Shiori. And as she lives in Tokyo it was a sure thing we would find where and how to get the train for the airport. 

Our last day summed up our experience in Tokyo. We battled our way through the busiest train station in the world, followed by the busiest street crossing in the world. But as usual it’s all worth it to see the temples, the stunning scenery and meeting the lovely(99% of the time) locals. 

Shiori took us all around Shibuya and Harajuku showing us all the cool stuff we didn’t know existed or missed the first time. 

Shiori then took us to Harajuku park, it was filled with people playing volleyball, singing and having picnics. It seemed like a perfect time to sit down and take it all in before we left Japan. Both being illustration students Juna and Shiori drew and I took some photos (which I’m sure will be up on this blog once I get over the jet lag). 

With 23 hours worth of travelling ahead of us we knew we were going to need energy and food. So we opted for over-the-top crepes. It’s apparently very fashionable to walk down the main fashion lane in Harajuku eating a crepè. I ordered a chocolate brownie, banana and whipped cream crepè. It was delicious although the majority was whipped cream so I consumed my weeks calories in one go. 

After a sad goodbye to Shiori and her pointing us in the direction of our first of four trains we went down to the platform. Just as the train approached Juna started stamping madly, the kind of stamping you do when you have pins and needles. Only this was triggered by her feeling a bug in her shoe. She panicked thinking it might bite her, sat down on the platform and whipped her shoe off. Luckily it was an ant. But by the time this discovery was made our train had been and gone. 

To make up lost time we got on the airport express train which although a little more expensive is as informative as you can get. It tells you which terminal your flight is and the easiest route to the gate. 

After a very long wait to check-in which included Juna’s bag breaking we made it to our flight. I optimistically took my shoes off and buried myself under the complementary blanket and planned what films to watch. But we then experienced the emergency lighting as the electrics failed, this repeated 3 times until Nelly Fertardo blared across the speakers letting us know the electric was back up and running again. We then took off, everyone was a bit nervous but we were assured the issue was solved and sure enough we arrived in Dubai safe and sound at 3am. 

We then had a five hour wait till our connecting flight home. Thankfully we got given a free meal voucher to spend at the airport, so we splashed out on a McDonald’s. But as we kept flying through different time zones this ended up being our 3rd breakfast. 

We then failed to catch up on sleep in some very uncomfortable chairs, looked through all our photos from the last 24 days and boarded the 7 hour flight home. After watching Deadpool, Spectre and The search for freedom the time seemed to fly by (no pun intended). 

I was then gratefully picked up by my mum and Nan from the airport and managed to last till 7pm. I then slept for a solid 12 hours. 
As much as I am happy to see all my family and friends I already miss Japan. I would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been. We met all kinds of brilliant people; young, old, on their own, with friends, with family and Japan had something different to offer all of them. 

I am currently editing the first of two films which I made during my time in Japan. They will posted up on this blog along with photos from my trip within the next couple of weeks. 


Japan Diary: Day 022

Day 022:

I am writing this tipsy and tired after toasting our last night in Tokyo. So apologies in advance. 

We woke up on our last full day here in Japan to rain. We thought this might hopefully make it easier to leave but somehow I doubt it. 

We got ourselves ready in the cleanest and most un-creased clothes we could find and headed to Harajuku (the trendy district). We first visited the main shrine there. Unlike most of the others we’ve seen it wasn’t at the top of a hill (thankfully) and was instead set amongst a forest backdrop. Even in the rain it was beautiful and me and Juna managed to get through the full praying process without getting the steps mixed up. 

The main shopping street was bustling with teenagers and a few tourists. All the shops were wacky with most dedicated to a specific cartoon character or socks… It didn’t take us long to get into the shopping spirit including the buying of novelty socks. 

We then felt we should see Tokyo’s imperial palace before we go. By the time we got there the palace was shut but most people we have spoken to said its not worth going into the palace as the gardens are better. The gardens were huge and took us an hour to look round. They surround the castle and the moat but full of bugs that want to bite you. It’s weird having such beautiful gardens and an imperial palace in the middle of modern high rise buildings. 

Having walked and shopped most of the day we stopped off at an independent burger restaurant. The burgers were so good Juna wanted to go in for a second one but just before she did the zip on her fanny-pack broke and she lost the courage too. 

For our final night we headed to Shinjuku where Juna got her wish of more food. We watched it being made right in front of us as we sat in a small bar drinking Japanese spirits and vodka. And rather dramatically as Juna took her first bite of noodles Celine Dion came on, all very bizarre and weirdly not the first time we’ve heard My Heart Will Go On this trip. 
We then left to get the last train home while coming up with hypothetical reasons we can’t get on our flight tomorrow. After stocking up with midnight snacks at the local convenience store we had to stumble around the 10 other beds in our dorm in pitch black to get to our beds. Hopefully we didn’t wake anyone up but from the shuffling I hear I think we may’ve. 



Japan Diary: Day 021

Day 021:

Today we began by waving off our new friends Eddy and Eric as they left to make their way to Mt.Fuji. And with Juna bandaging her blister up using one too many plasters making it look like a dramatic war wound we were ready to go. 

We first returned to Ueno park, home of the National Tokyo Museum which houses original Japanese artworks dating back centuries. Unfortunately we got there and it was a children (plus their parents) only day. We considered tagging along with a Japanese family but thought it may look at bit too obvious. So instead we enjoyed the free entertainment of the park buskers. There was a brilliant band made up of 3 women whose energy and enthusiasm in the heat was as good as their musical talent. Their rendition of Under The Sea was a particular favourite. The most hilarious bit came when a cute kid started dancing with the band, but temptation proved too much and he starting stealing money out their box. This led to his mum running up embarrassed and teaching him how to return stolen money. 

We’ve both been wanting to get a few souvenirs from Japan so we decided our next trip should be to the skytree. A massive, mad shopping centre in the base of the tallest tower in world. On the subway on the way I got talking to an Australian guy who had just arrived from Korea. For the first time I was the one able to give advice on where to visit, I felt the pressure. I was extremely jealous, after Japan he is travelling through Indonesia and then around Europe. 

We then arrived at Skytree and started the most successful shopping spree. We got everything we wanted including a Tokyo mascot teddy bear and some clothes. Although by far the worst purchase we made was ice-cream. We both got different flavours but had the same reaction. Despite the flavours being tasty both ice-creams had a weird fishy after-taste. Something which doesn’t go well with tiramisu flavour. After a few spoonfuls I had to throw it away. 

This evening we met our friend Shiori who lives in Tokyo. We were planning to go for dinner in Shinjuku but it was too busy and crowded as it was the Godzilla Japanese sequel premiere. There were security everywhere and film fans camping out. So instead we took the subway a couple of stops to a smaller suburb and home of Shiori’s favourite sushi restaurant. 

The restaurant works by you taking a ticket and waiting for your number to be called (a bit like a glamorous Argos) but as our number was so far down the line we decided to visit the arcade next door while we waited. Within the arcades are crazy photo booths which make you stand in ridiculous poses then let’s you edit them. Although initially sceptical it turned out to be a good laugh and it prints out stickers of the photos for you to keep (or throw away never to be seen again). 

The restaurant was brilliant with the sushi conveyor belt winding around all the restaurant booths. The food was really tasty and super cheap for Tokyo, it came to £14 for all 3 of us, and you don’t tip in Japan so a cheap night out all round. The weather is meant to be bad tomorrow so we’re going to plan the day in the morning. 



Japan Diary: Day 020

Day 020:

Akihabara & Asakusa 
The 20th day of our travels started at 7.30am with my feet sticking out the end of the ridiculously short duvet and the fire alarm going off. I guess thankfully it was a false alarm but I couldn’t get back to sleep. 

The first place we visited was Akihabara, known as the anime & manga district. Although unlike Juna I’m not into anime or manga I appreciate the dedication and artistry so was looking forward to it. It started well when we went into an arcade and played a full size bongo game while dancing to the J-pop soundtrack. 

We then wandered down the main street venturing into the different shops. Although I didn’t know what to expect and went in possibly a bit naively I was extremely surprised. The games, comics and DVDs on display featured 99% only women and the large majority were portrayed in a sexual way. Most of the places we went into had a ‘seedy’ and sexualised atmosphere. We went into a dvd shop and on the floor specifically named ‘foreign kids films’ (we were looking for Harry Potter..) there were Japanese adult movies on most of the shelves. Juna who was really looking forward to the district felt really disheartened. It wasn’t all bad just not what we had in mind, our western upbringing may’ve effected our perspective but we probably won’t be going back. At least we found Harry Potter and I got served by the most flamboyant cashier I have ever seen, so definitely not all bad. 

On our way to lunch we saw a grown man pulling along a toy Pokemon in his shoe without a care in the world. It definitely brightened our day. And we had lunch in the most brilliant cafe where you sit looking at a huge globe slowly rotating in front of you. 

After a brief stop at Ueno, which has a beautiful park full of rivers with giant fish and small tortoises we headed to Asakusa. We’ve never seen it in the day-light and returning was definitely worth it to see it’s famous temple. There was a long line of people queuing to pray and there was a lovely chilled, Sunday evening atmosphere.  

After getting lost and having a healthy dinner (below) we found a riverside walk which takes you through the centre of Tokyo with views of all the skyscrapers. I’ve never known such a busy capital city have so many quiet spots to enjoy the views. After working out what all the skyscrapers were and getting our bearings we headed back to our hostel, where we are just about to go to bed after making friends with the 2 guys staying next to us in the 10 bed dorm. Eric and Eddy from Germany who are extremely sweet, intelligent and even updated us on the price of the pound! 

I am absolutely knackered as you can probably tell from the writing so for now a good night sleep and more exploring tomorrow. 


Japan Diary: Day 019

Day 019

Hiroshima & Tokyo 

Sadly this morning we were checking out of our nicest hostel yet; with comfy beds, a modern common room/kitchen and 10 showers which were as nice as any hotel. 

On our way down in the lift from the 6th floor, where we had been staying, an American student jumped in to go down just the one floor. Within the space of going this one floor she fitted in as many words as humanly possible. She introduced herself, where she was from, what she’s doing in Japan and where we should go in Tokyo. I’ve never heard anyone fit so much information into 10 seconds. It was incredible, me and Juna were left speechless and unable to get a word in. She was extremely friendly and wished us luck on the next stage of our journey. 

We then arrived characteristically early for our train, 2 hours early. Luckily we stumbled upon a concert in the underground walkway to the station. Everyone was dressed up in the Hiroshima baseball kit with 2 girls on stage singing and dancing. They were then followed by what looked like a Japanese motivational speaker. The crowd lapped it up and chanted with him. We felt a bit more perplexed by the situation but enjoyed it all the same. 

The ‘underground’ concert 

The train journey back to Tokyo was jsut over  4 hours. Luckily I purchased a Chupa Chup lollipop before we boarded which was so hard to open it kept me and Juna baffled/occupied for a good half an hour. The rest of the time we caught up on some much needed sleep. 

We then arrived in Tokyo mid rush hour with 2 big suitcases and had to cross the main square to get to another station. Worst idea ever. By the end of it I was feeling light-headed after using 90% of my oxygen apologising to people for running over their feet. 

After checking in at the hostel we spent the evening in the Shinjuku district, our favourite spot for Tokyo nightlife. Just outside the station was a crazy magician with bleached blonde hair. His comedy was better than his magic and when he pulled a member of the public out of the audience to take part he was completely out-shined. But he still managed to pull in a big crowd who loved the free Saturday night street show. 

After a wonder around the mad Shinjuku, which included accidentally ending up in a very sleazy area where in the establishments you had to pay 1000¥ an hour for their ‘services’, we made a hasty and tired retreat to the station. At the station I ended up having to hold in laughter more than ever. A poor women went down the ‘up’ escalator and ended up running on the spot and staying in the same place for a good minute before getting taken back up again completely exhausted. 

Shinjuku cinema 

After a long day with a lot of traveling we are having an early(ish) night. Tomorrow we are checking out the anime district and getting food from the game themed cafes there which should be a lot of fun. 



Japan Diary: Day 018

Day 018:

After a long day yesterday we decided to take it slow on our last day here in Hiroshima. After a lovely lie-in till 11 I managed to convince Juna to visit an incinerator plant on the outskirts of Hiroshima. I had heard about the incinerator a while back as it’s designed by one of my favourite architects Taniguchi Yoshio, who also designed MOMA in New York. We arrived there after taking a 20 minute journey on a bus with a wooden floor and a women who insisted every stop we went past was our stop. 

Expecting a faint smell of garbage we were actually greeted with an incredibly strong scent of Soy sauce from the factory next door. Not exactly pleasant but also doesn’t make your breakfast re-appear.  

The incineration plant is made up of glass and metal allowing you to see the internal workings. It’s also on the water front with a viewing space allowing you to see across the water. At this point,Juna and me, both raised in Brighton, realised how much we had missed the sea after being in-land for 3 weeks. Overal I was incredibly impressed by the building and views and would defientely recommend the short trip from the city centre for any fans of clean, slick architecture.  

 Next up to visit was Hiroshima castle, originally constructed in 1589 and rebuilt after the atomic bomb. It was much bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside and had a brilliant exhibition on samurai culture and the battles over the control of the castle through the ages. The best part though was the 5th floor viewing platform giving a 360 view of Hiroshima. And it wasn’t too busy so we had plenty of time to take in the view. 

The Castle and moat 

View from the 5th floor 

Getting ready for leaving tomorrow we then strolled to the train station to reserve tickets for the 5 hour journey to Tokyo. Right next to the station is a baseball stadium with a match being played this evening. It was great to see everyone on their way to the game all dressed up including lots of women and children. What was great was all the station staff who worked in the shops were dressed up in the Hiroshima kit, it was a great atmosphere and wish we could’ve caught a game before we leave. 

We then had an evening stroll back home to our hostel, the best one yet, taking in Hiroshima for the last night. It was the busiest yet calmest city I’ve ever seen on a Friday night. Even if we did have to wade through people ‘catching’ Pokemon. 

On our return to the hostel I realised the hot chocolate I bought to have before bed was in fact coffee and  then found Juna’s green painting ink leaked across her duvet and mattress. Never a dull moment. 



Japan Diary: Day 017

Day 017:

Last night we decided to use today to see all the memorial sites and museums and then see how we felt, and decide what we want to do after. 

We first visited the famous A-dome, just 5 minutes walk from our hostel. The dome was what I had seen on t.v. but the surrounding area was not what I was expecting. Next to the dome is a beautiful, clear river along with beautiful plants and the atmosphere was extremely peaceful not somber at all. 

Next to the dome was a Hiroshima peace volunteer, we saw them throughout the day. She has created folders filled with information in many languages which go through what happened when the atomic bomb hit and the aftermath. The information is free to read so we sat down amongst about 20 other travellers to read all about it. The information was extremely detailed and built further on our knowledge of the incident. We then spoke to the women who provided the information, she was born 3 days after the bombing and her grandfather was killed in the attack. Despite all I’ve read about it, it’s still hard to comprehend that this all happened just one generation ago in some cases. But talking to the women and seeing the dome helped both Juna and me to have a better understating of the effects of such an a horrendous weapon. 

Juna reading one of the free information folders 

Next we decided to walk through the memorial park to visit the museum at the end. Before we went into the exhibit I popped in to use the museum toilet. Wow. As I walked down through the centre of the empty restroom, with cubicles either side, each toilet seat rose up as I walked past. I felt like I was some kind of cult leader in an alternative universe. Then when you sit down it plays you the sound of the rainforest. I know it’s not the main attraction in Hiroshima but it provided some light-relief on a hard hitting day. 

The underbelly of the museum 

The museum itself was as the guide book describes ‘ Confronting and personal. While upsetting it’s a must see in Hiroshima’. And it was all those things; horrendous photos, personal items of those who lost their lives and videos on the science behind the bomb. But it really is a must see, even after holding back the tears Juna agreed. Even though it’s incredibly moving, with many visitors wiping their away tears as they went along it wasn’t over-the-top and was incredibly informative. 

About a hundred metres away from the museum is the Peace Memorial Hall. After you enter for free you take a winding path underground into the round hall of remembrance. The top half off the hall is a mosaic made up of 140,000 tiles, each one representing a victim of the atomic bomb attack. The hall was incredibly calm with seats allowing us to sit down and reflect and contemplate what we’d seen. 

The Peace Memorial Hall  

In the adjoining room was photographs and names of all those who lost their lives. For me this was when the sheer size of the devastation really hit home. 

After the hall we headed to the near-by museum of art. It was an odd building, not very well advertised but obviously very well-known as there were a lot of people inside. It was relatively expensive to get in but after visiting all the memorial sites we both wanted something a bit ‘lighter’. 

The museum included some big names including Monet and Van Gogh. But the part I enjoyed most was the temporary exhibition showing the work of Machiko Hasegawa. A female comic strip artist who broke into the comic scene at just 15. The sheer volume of work she created year after year was inspiring. She was famed for her wit and humour, and even though in Japanese the comics were hilarious and extremely witty. You could see her drawing styles change over the years but her humour stayed the same, well if anything, got (c)ruder as she got older!

After the museum, grabbing some dinner and my phone app informing me we’ve walked 20km today we headed back to the hostel absolutely knackered. On the way we stopped at one of Japan’s millions of vending machines to get water but we had a shock, this vending machine was selling pickled fish in bottles! Luckily we weren’t too thirsty and could wait till the next vending machine. 

Although hard-hitting, today has been enjoyable and the museum is a must do if your in Hiroshima. I look forward to seeing more of the city tomorrow. 



Japan Diary: Day 016

Day 016:

Kyoto & Hiroshima 
This morning we woke up bright and early to catch our train to Hiroshima. The train station is a 40 minute, warm bus journey from our hostel. Just as we were about to leave and head to the bus stop the manager of the hostel knocked at our door. Not only did he then carry our ridiculously heavy bags down the steep hostel stairs but he offered us a free lift to the station with his wife as she was heading into town. I wasn’t even surprised by him offering this as he’s been as friendly and helpful as you can get over the last few days. 


His wife dropped us off at the station with plenty of time for our train allowing a doughnut consuming pit-stop. What then followed was a set of mini-disasters, including Juna getting on the wrong train. 

The right train 

When we arrived in Hiroshima another minor disaster happened. As Juna was reaching in her bag for change to get the bus she heard the clanging of keys. Keys to the hostel we left in Kyoto, now 220 miles away. 

With a quick email sent to the hostel owner to tell him we’ll be posting the keys first class we jumped on the bus. We knew the name of the stop we had to get off at in English but we got too complacent and didn’t translate it into Japanese before the journey. Unlike all the other cities we’ve visited, none of the bus announcements or signs were in English. 

After asking numerous people on the bus, all of whom tried their best to help, we ended getting off at a random stop. Then getting straight back on again when we realised we had gone in a full circle and were back at the station. With the help of the bus driver who decided it was time to step in to save further embarrassment we found the right stop. 

After finding our hostel easier than we thought, we dumped our bags and went exploring the area we are staying in. Aside from being famous for being hit by the worlds first atomic bomb I had no idea what to expect from Hiroshima. But what we saw tonight I really liked. It’s a young, vibrant city and we’ve heard a good nightlife on the weekends. 

The entrance to our hostel 

Midway thorough our exploring/getting lost it started to pour down. Luckily we we were right beside a 5-floor arcade. After watching two guys play a reaction game, sort-of like a dance mat for your hands, we had a go ourselves. Turned out they made it look extremely easy. All the games in the arcade have their volume up at 100% so trying to concentrate on anything with the wall of noise is a talent in itself. After a few goes we opted for something easier, Mario kart. Thankfully I won so no one had to witness me being a sore loser just a bad winner. 

As we both hit a wall of tiredness from the days travelling and shenanigans we decided to head back for an early night. As we walked down our street there was a giant tortoise just chilling in a box on the pavement. All very odd but just another day in Japan. 

When we got back here, to the hostel, we were ready to crash into our beds. Only problem was, unlike the other places we’ve stayed in,you have to make your own bed. Each bed capsule comes with its own bewildering instructions, making our ‘bedburgers’ awake with our eyes shut wasn’t easy. I’m going to sleep surrounded by two spare pillow case covers, 2 sheets and a duvet all in 28 degree heat. Tomorrow we are going to spend the day visiting the atomic dome and visiting the museums dedicated to educating people on the event. 



Japan Diary: Day 015

Day 015:


Day 15 started off hilariously. Around 10 am when I was attempting to get out of bed (10 is early for me) Juna returned from having a shower. Although I noticed something weird, her towel was still in our room. It transpires she forgot her towel and after washing her hair just stood behind the shower curtain ‘drip-drying’. Even funnier considering the hostel shower is behind a curtain in the garden.

After a good laugh at the sanity we’ve already lost through just two weeks of travelling we visited the temple we having been staying next too. As we were eating our breakfast looking across the temple grounds a guy who arrived at our hostel last night recognised us and came over. 


His name was Nerman, from Mexico and had just finished a 6 week internship in Tokyo and is now travelling around Japan for 3 weeks before heading back to Mexico. He asked if he could tag along for the day which of course we said yes. After half an hour we realised that what he should of asked was if we wanted to come with him to all the sights he wanted to see. But in the end it made a nice change for someone else to navigate and he wanted to see a lot of similar things to us.  

We first got on the train and headed to Fushimi Inari Taisha, the most famous shrine in Kyoto. The main large shrine is at the base of a mountain. With many smaller ones along the way and at the top of the mountain. Due to mt. Fuji I feel like I’ve done enough mountain climbing to last a last time and especially my time here in Japan. But the other two wanted to go up, and owing to our new member I was outnumbered and had to climb another mountain. 

Waiting for the train 

Leading up to the top are 2000 red gates, each one donated by a business. It was brilliant as they were both beautiful and provided shade. This beauty didn’t last long as the heat and steep climb started to get to me and Juna. Although as pale as us, Nerman is used to the heat of Mexico and found it no problem, even donating his fan to me so I could go a more pale shade of beetroot. 

After an hour and a lot of water we reached the top. All the shrines we saw were beautiful and individual in some way. In particular, my favourite shrine was a zodiac one, which featured hand-carved statutes of each zodiac sign. 

After recovering from the walk we headed for the bus. On the buses here the drivers wear microphones which gets played out speakers throughout the bus. They continually speak to you about the traffic and every time you get going from a red light. But our driver today wasn’t very happy and kept having road rage. It was very handy having Nerman with us as he is fluent in Japanese as well as English. 

Our chosen destination was the Path of Philosophy. Made famous by Nishida Kitaro, a Japanese philosopher who used the journey along the path everyday to meditate on his way to teach at Kyoto university. On our way we popped in to a convenience store for some food. The first thing I saw when the doors opened was a women dressed up, head to toe, as a geisha fulfilling all her photocopying needs in the corner. Another very odd sight but one I have come to expect after being in Japan for a couple of weeks. 

As we made our way up to the Path of Philosophy while standing at a cross roads a man on a motorbike the other side started madly pointing at us and shouting. At first confused, we realised we were being idiots. Unlike the other crossings in Japan you have to press a button here, he was just helping us finding the button. After finally sheepishly crossing the road and thanking him we got to the path. 

Once again it was another beautiful, peaceful part of Kyoto just metres from the main city. We wandered slowly along the riverside path with Nerman giving us recommendations on places to visit when we return to Tokyo. I’m not sure if your meant to have an epiphany or inspiring thoughts as you stroll along the Path of Philosophy, but my main thought was to take an antihistamine as there were about 50 cats roaming the path from the near-by cat sanctuary. 

We’re both sad to leave Kyoto tomorrow as it hasn’t been what we expected but we really enjoyed it. Next up Hiroshima. 


Japan Diary: Day 014

Day 014:


Today we treated ourselves to breakfast at a doughnut restaurant. We’ve resisted since we touched down in Japan. But today I had two doughnuts for breakfast and it was glorious. Although a bit sickly I quickly polished off a chocolate donut swiftly followed by one completely filled with whipped cream.  

To walk off our breakfast we headed to Arashiyama, which for £3.50 you can walk around the beautiful temple gardens. Only problem is everyone else had the same idea and it was packed. After being in the background of at least a hundred family snaps and nearly getting decapitated by a selfie stick we decided to leave and go off the beaten track. 

Just metres from the gardens were completely empty paths winding into the forest passing shrines and temples. It was in the shade as well which was a real bonus in the 33 degree heat. We strolled through the forest taking hundreds of photos and enjoying the calm until we came to the end of the path, the bamboo forest. 

A path had been carved through the centre of the forest for visitors to enjoy. The bamboo was incredibly tall and blocked all the sunlight. There was bamboo as far as you could see so it didn’t matter how busy it was, you could see it from any angle. 

At the end of the forest and down a few uneven steps we caught the glimpse of the main Arashiyama river. It was beautiful and for some reason a view we both said, that out of context we’d assume it be in China or Cambodia, we weren’t expecting it in Japan. There were loads of people rowing especially towards the food boats floating down the river. A particular highlight of mine was when 3 women, who didn’t know how to row, got stuck at the end of the current and people had to climb down to the waters edge and push them back out again. Everybody, them included, found it hilarious.  

We had planned to just spend half a day in Arashiyama but it was much bigger than we thought and with lots of natural beauty spots so we stayed the whole day. 

On the way back, around 10pm, we were ravenous so popped into a petrol station cafe in what felt like the middle of nowhere. But when the doors opened it revealed a cafe full to the brim with 20-somethings all on their own, working or on their laptops. It was surreal,no one looked up from their screens when you walked passed, but the cafe did delicious pizza slices so we’ll probably be back.