Shortly after I returned from Thailand my parents came to visit me and we spent a week travelling around Japan. I'm so glad I did this because I got to see so many things I hadn't yet seen, despite actually living in Japan. Everything was booked through a crazy efficient travel company which I'm soo glad we did, 90% of tickets etc were already booked and sent to my rents so it took a lot of the pressure off me trying to sort things (although my Japanese was definitely tested to it's limits being a translator for the week).
Old man painting // Cherry blossom in Shinjuku Gyoen
Pufferfish fins in Tsukiji
The view from Tokyo skytree
We then took the bullet train (shinkansen) to Hakone and stayed in a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan), which was definitely an experience! It was my first time sleeping on futon on tatami matts as well which is surprisingly comfortable, and there was a stream right outside the window so I got to fall asleep to the sound of that (which also drowned out the sound of my Dad snoring which was fab).
Hakone open air museum
Japanese traditional breakfast
However uber traditional Japanese food is quite the acquired taste (check out our breakfast), and I wasn't crazy about wolfing down some natto at 8am. Glad I had the experience though! Hakone is really pretty, definitely go for the cable cart ride over the sulphur pits and try a Hakone egg (apparently they increase your lifespan by 10 years, yes pls).
We then bullet train-ed it to Kyoto which I loved, it's often said that people in Kansai (southern part of Japan) are uber friendly and not as cold as Tokyoites and I totally found that. People were surprised and very happy that I spoke Japanese and had better English than people in Tokyo in my opinion. We had a tour guide for one day who took us around 3 places, the golden pavillion, the old shogun's palace (with a 'nightingale floor' that squeaks like a nightingale so assassins coming to attack the shogun could be heard) and a temple which enshrines an education kami (god) who I gave a fuckload of my change to cos I want a 2:1 in my degree onegai shimasu.
Gyoza dinner // Geisha in Gion
We also went to Gion one evening to go 'geisha hunting', I had heard it was pretty hard to see geisha as they are all rushing to appointments and usually down back streets, however I found a website with a map which showed a hotspot and literally seconds after arriving at the spot a geisha walked straight past us! I asked her in uber polite Japanese for a picture and she nodded but carried on walking so I got this picture of her back. Still so happy though! We saw another 3 over the evening, they're always hurrying so you literally catch a glimpse but I totally recommend it, especially if you have a interest in geisha as part of Japanese traditional culture.
The golden pavilion
Plum blossom in Kyoto // Hello Kitty Kyoto style
Obligatory deer selfie in Nara
We also took a day trip to Nara, mostly for the deer but there is also a massive Buddhist temple there which is extremely beautiful. Apparently the myth goes that deer were the messengers of a kami or Buddha (please enjoy my precise knowledge) so until the end of WW2 they had divine status and killing one was a capital offence!
They are literally everywhere and you can buy crackers to feed them which turns them into aggressive little buggers, they will head butt you HARD and bite you if you don't distribute the food quick enough. I also had one take a fancy to my cherry blossom ice cream and follow me for 10 minutes trying to jump up and grab it so the cuteness kind of wears off fast.
Shinkansen ticket // Puppies in pet shop by our hotel
We then headed back to Tokyo by shinkansen, which is crazily fast, clean and comfortable so if you are travelling around Japan definitely take it at least once.
Hope you guys found this interesting! No doubt I will be doing more travelling in the last few months of my study abroad so there will probably be more posts like this ^^ xx