Our time in the Osaka / Kyoto / Yoshino area was quite rainy and cold but we’ve continued to have great experiences!
Kyoto is the religious / cultural center of Japan. There are many temples and shrines all over the city. We spent two days in Kyoto and saw just a handful, I think it’d take months to visit all. We visited on the weekend so the place was wall to wall tourists. Even though it was busy it was still very fun to see everyone enjoying the temples, the blossoms, and see all the people walking around in their traditional Japanese clothes.
We took a day trip out of Osaka to Yoshino to visit a forest of cherry trees. There’s something like 2,000 cherry trees in the small valley area. We were fortunate enough to have the weather break-up enough to see the valley lined with cherry trees in bloom. Even though it was cold and rainy it was amazing! Well worth the three hour train ride each way.
We went to a Geisha show / musical that was a rather interesting cultural experience. I didn’t really know what to expect and I left a bit flummoxed. The costumes were very pretty but we had no idea what was going on during the show since it was in Japanese. It was a lot like Chinese opera but it neither sucked nor did it hurt my ears. Overall, it was a pretty neat experience and I think I’d go again but I’m not sure.
We’ve found more helpful and kind people along the way. I have two great examples: first, as I mentioned, the weather hasn’t been great, so our host ended up getting us a gift of fancy jello (not kidding) as a condolence. I didn’t realize it until that moment but surprise jello is always great and welcomed! Second, it’s hard for us to find places in Japan because street names and addresses usually aren’t posted and a lot of the time Google Maps will have businesses in the wrong location so it’s the worst of both worlds. We depend a lot more our hosts to help us find addresses and routing. One of our camera lenses gave it up to the gods so I started looking online for a store we could visit near us but quickly gave up. I emailed our host and told her that we were looking for a specific lens and about how much it should cost. In very short order she found a store in her little city, she sent a message with the location resolvable in Google Maps, she had called the store and verified they had the lens in inventory, she shared the price and wanted to know if she should call them back to hold the lens for us. Talk about service!
Traveling around Japan and being a tourist in Japan is probably the greatest thing ever. It’s quiet everywhere so we can sightsee in peace even when there are large crowds, people are incredibly courteous so people aren’t cutting in line or barging around the place, everything is on time, there are no scammers, prices are exactly as advertised with no bait&switch, things are very good values, locals are incredibly tolerant of tourist doing stupid things (as we know from the stupid things we’ve done), and when we need help there’s always plenty of people to help us. It is spectacular. We love it. We are sad we are leaving in about three days
Enjoy the photos!