My Second trip to Japan was in University. One of the students in my program, Hanako, was an international student from Japan. She became friends with Alex, one of my BBFs, and the three of us became inseparable around campus. We made a plan to go to her house in Japan over winter break one year. We left boxing day, because Christmas is about couples in Japan and we wanted to be with our families.
We landed in Osaka and made our way to her family home in Kyoto. We met her mother and father who were both very kind and very welcoming. Her father works in Tokyo but had time off and came to meet us. We were very lucky because he drove us to many places to visit.
Kyoto was very different from Hokkaido. Kyoto is the old capital of Japan and has many large and ancient temples and shrines. We went to Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-Ji, Ginkaku-Ji, Fushimi-Inari and many others. We went to Gion to see if we would find a Maiko or Geisha. We saw a Kimono fashion show and then rented Kimono for the day to tour around in.
We went to the temple on New Years Eve to watch them ring in the New Year with 108 bell tolls. We visited her Grandmother’s house to make mochi, rice pounded into paste. We make it with a wooden mallet and a wooden stump. Sometimes I would nick the edge of the bowl so my mochi had wood splinters in it.
One day we went to Universal studio’s in Osaka and went on rides. We stayed late to watch the nightly show. It was Peter Pan and pretty amazing. We ate ramen we had to order from a vending machine and okinomiyaki we had to cook at the table. Alex was ecstatic to be able to order cartilage as a snack. We met some of Hanako’s childhood friends and had a great time. I was sad to leave. I was falling even more in love with Japan and travel. I swore some day I would live in Japan. Alex beat me to that goal though.