Japan, Day 5: Ama Hut Experience

I was so happy that I got to do the ama hut experience, especially with Ise ebi (Ise lobster) in season. The highlights of this experience were getting to eat seafood that were freshly caught by ama and conversing with ama divers, with the help of an interpreter.

I was undecided which tour company to pick between Osatsu-kamado and Hachiman. But the deciding factor was the free direct shuttle bus offered by Hachiman.

I found out about ama (海女, literally “woman of the sea”) in 2017 while looking for what to do in Ise-shima. I was unable to squeeze in a visit though because of the tight schedule of our 2017 trip but this time, I got the opportunity to meet them.

NOVEMBER 25, 2018

Some of the things I learned about ama during the visit:

  • Most ama are women and it is said that this is because males can hardly endure the cold water during diving.
  • Ama freedive for about 10m in the Pacific Ocean, with earplugs to protect their ears from water pressure.
  • They are mostly known for pearl cultivation but they also get seafood – octopus is their biggest enemy so they usually “fish” them; but they also get awabi (abalone), Ise ebi (Ise lobster), and sea cucumber among others.
  • There are about 120 ama divers in the area of Toba I visited, with the eldest being 85 y/o and the youngest being 24 y/o.
  • Ama usually work for about 2-4 hours and then take a rest in their huts…

I was so happy that I got to do the ama hut experience, especially with Ise ebi (Ise lobster) in season. The highlights of this experience were getting to eat seafood that were freshly caught by ama and conversing with ama divers, with the help of an interpreter.

I was undecided which tour company to pick between Osatsu-kamado and Hachiman. But the deciding factor was the free direct shuttle bus offered by Hachiman.

I found HACHIMAN KAMADO’s website to be outdated so I was hesitant to book but I read positive reviews online so I booked a reservation. I got an email within 24 hours that the 12:30 schedule I wanted was already fully booked so I asked if I could still avail the lunch set even if the schedule would be at 13:00. I got a reply that this was okay so I sent a new reservation form.

I got the Deluxe Seafood Set (¥7,560) which includes grilled shellfishes, sashimi, seaweed, soup, rice, pickles, and an option to choose either awabi or Ise ebi. I was excited for the lobster so the obvious choice for me was Ise ebi, and besides, I was able to try awabi last year.

From Ujiyamada Station (after Ise Jingu visit), we took a train going to Toba.

The shuttle was scheduled to leave at 13:00 and apparently there was no other visitor for the 13:00 schedule who availed this. When we reached the Ama Hut Hachiman area, there were 2 or 3 other groups in the room but they all had private cars for transportation.

Junko-san, the interpreter, greeted us and she pointed to the basket with the deluxe seafood set.

Look at those Ise ebi — still alive!

Junko showed each group to the assigned then one of the ama served us this kai (sea bream) sashimi. It was so fresh that I liked it even without dipping in the shoyu.

While busy with the appetizer, some of the ama started grilling the different kinds of shellfish.

Everything was so good, except for the weird kind that tasted as salty as the sea. The rice was served afterwards and that helped in neutralizing the saltiness. Ise ebi, the highlight of the lunch, was cooked lastly.

(I was so excited when I saw the ama with cooked Ise ebi approaching our table but then she just left after placing it on the table. I was confused how to remove the shell but another ama saw me – she wore her gloves then methodically removed the shell. Yay!

(

Ise ebi is not as big as the usual lobster but it is way bigger than shrimps. One bite and I could jump from joy because it tasted really good. There was a hint of sweetness and I savoured every bite of it!

One of the ama saw the sea bream we finished and she asked if we wanted it grilled so we said yes. It was so yummy but a bit difficult to get fish meat since there was only a little left.

After that heavy lunch, one of the ama went to the center of the room and started speaking in Japanese. Junko interpreted the ama’s story on their work, how they get seafood, and other interesting facts on the remarkable work they do.

Next, a few of the ama showed one of their traditional dances while music was being played on the background.

Before our visit was officially ended, Junko introduced us to Reiko-san, the oldest ama in the area. She is 80+ years old and considered the leader in the group but has retired from diving duties a few years ago.

We still had around 30 minutes before the bus leaves for Toba Station (15:10) so I took the opportunity to go near the water and walk along the shore. It was a bright day and I thought to myself that the view there would be even better during sunset.

When we returned to the ama huts, the ama were busy cleaning up. There were no visitors left and I could hear them chatting lively. Near the entrance, there were two ama talking to Junko. They saw us approaching and they asked us where we were from. When we said Philippines, they brought out PH flags so I asked the shuttle driver to take a photo of us.

They went back to talking afterwards and I was so bummed out that I forgot to buy dried mangoes for them because I wanted to give them a little token from PH. I remembered though that I had a small pack of peanuts so I shared it with them. When it was near 15:00, I said goodbye to them then Junko gave me a piece of chocolate. The ama also told me and Junko that I was “kawaii”. So sweet!

Retro style bus at Toba Station

What a way to end my Ise-Shima adventure. Some may find this tour to be too expensive but the interaction with the ama was priceless for me. I wouldn’t mind doing this again when I get to revisit Toba in the future.

PH, Leyte: Kalanggaman Island

The travel from Palompon to KALANGGAMAN ISLAND took about an hour. We left Palompon at 6:30AM and arrived in our destination at around 7:30AM.

We rented a cottage near the sandbar, which was less busier and noisier plus we had a great view while resting and eating.

JUNE 25-27, 2017

Our first local trip together – me and my best friend, K! Our main mission was to visit Kalanggaman Island in Leyte… so we first took a plane going to Tacloban. Then from Tacloban, we rode a van for 4 hours to get to Palompon.

Palompon is a small town and less urban than Tacloban so there are only a few restaurants to choose from as well as small groceries. Initially we booked our accommodation via Airbnb but Diana, the host, told me to directly transact with her instead so that we could get a room instead of the whole house. I think this one is an updated link and it looks very similar to the room we stayed in: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/13145062?s=51.

We were welcomed by the host’s mom and we were happy to see that the room had aircon because the weather was hot at that time.

We did nothing during our first day except to eat and buy items to prepare for our island trip the next day…

Spotted working while on vacation!

Next day, we got up early to go to Palompon Eco-Tourism Office and rent a boat.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You need to reserve ahead of time because there is a limit to the number of tourists they allow to visit in a day. In this way, they prevent the island from being abused by a large wave of people. Check out this link for more details: http://kalanggaman-island.com/kalanggaman-rates-and-entrance-fee.html

We rented a boat for us two, which costs Php 3,000.00. Share per person would definitely be cheaper for a large group. There is an option to join another group so that the cost per pax would be lower but the time we want to go back to Palompon is different so we had to rent our own.

The travel from Palompon to KALANGGAMAN ISLAND took about an hour. We left Palompon at 6:30AM and arrived in our destination at around 7:30AM.

We rented a cottage near the sandbar, which was less busier and noisier plus we had a great view while resting and eating.

It was still low tide so we explored first the sandbar while there was still sand to walk on. There is a warning board there not to swim during high tide because of riptides.

After walking around, we went back to the main area where people were swimming.

The place was really beautiful to look at – different shades of blue for the sea and white sand everywhere. The only thing we were disappointed was that we read in a lot of blogs (and even in the office) that snorkeling is a recommended activity. We snorkeled for about an hour but we only saw less than 5 small fish. The rest was just people and floating seaweed. ☹

We went back to our cottage to eat early lunch but decided to go back to the sandbar because the outer edge was already submerged in water.

We didn’t go to the outer edge though because we were scared to get pulled by a riptide. We only walked a few meters then ran back to dry sand. Haha!

Admired these sceneries while eating our lunch…

The morning didn’t end well though because while we were eating chocolates for desserts we saw a lot of people going to the sandbar area to swim even if there was a large board already warning people not to. A few minutes later, I called K’s attention because I thought I spotted someone flailing in the middle of the sea… true enough, it was a middle-aged man who got pulled by the riptide.

Rescue team went to save him immediately… everything happened fast because we couldn’t see the guy anymore and 3-4 rescue persons dived into the sea. They got the guy and tried to revive him for a long time. He was eventually taken to a boat to ride back to Palompon while CPR was being continued.

I heard locals muttering that the tourism would be affected especially if the issue would be in nationwide news… all because of not following warning signs. Some blamed the guy, some blamed the staff in the island for not having a life guard stationed near the sandbar. But bottom line is, can’t we just follow instructions and warnings because these wouldn’t be there if there is no harm or danger that would possibly befall you.

My HS friends and I saw the same thing in Magalawa Island (Zambales) – people were swimming in the sandbar area even if there was a huge sign saying not to because of riptide or strong undercurrents. Thankfully at that time, no one got hurt.

We headed back to Palompon after the incident, 3-4 hours earlier than our intended departure from the island. We just stayed in our lodging and watched Running Man to keep our boredom at bay.

The next day, we left early in the morning so that we can have lunch in Tacloban. Tricycle drivers in the van terminal tried to rip us off by charging us Php 150 going to Ocho Seafood and Grill. The last one I just had to answer back that their rate was way more expensive than a taxi so he explained that he would have to pass by small streets to get us to the place otherwise we would have to walk about 5 minutes from the drop off. We told him it was fine so we were only charged Php 50 for the trip. Whew.

No pictures of our lunch in OCHO SEAFOOD AND GRILL but it was such a joy because we finally got to eat really delicious food + everything we had was fresh seafood. It is like dampa style because you get to choose raw seafood then ask them to cook it the way you want it. Highly recommend the place although it gets full even during weekday lunch time.

Our last stop before going to airport was JOSE KARLOS COFFEE where we had hot tea and desserts while watching another episode of Running Man. We went to the airport by riding a jeepney because there was no other option unless you rented a car to go there.

 

Conclusion after this trip – Cambodia is still the best trip we had together. There were other annoying incidents in this Leyte trip which I choose not to share anymore because it might just be a case of bad luck as others seemed to have enjoyed their time in Leyte.

Singapore, Day 1: National Gallery

We decided to go to NATIONAL GALLERY SINGAPORE based on C’s recommendation. The place was absolutely huge and we most likely saw thousands of artworks.

We spent the whole morning going around the whole gallery. My friends know that I am not a big fan of art but here are some of the artworks that I really liked:

APRIL 20-21, 2017

Last April, I was one of the people in our team who got the opportunity to attend a training in SG for a new proprietary tool. It was just a one-day event so my teammates and I decided to extend our stay.

Not gonna narrate anymore what happened during the training but the highlight that day was our dinner in JUMBO SEAFOOD RESTAURANT. We all wanted to try the famous chili crab and C helped us get a reservation in the Dempsey Hill branch.

The staff attending to us informed us that the crabs they had that night were just “small” so we decided to order 1 chili crab per person. She looked in disbelief but we were not sure if we just imagined it…

Since the crab would take about 30 minutes to cook, we ordered cereal prawns and fried rice because we were already hungry.

After a lot of kwento, our chili crab finally arrived… Lo and behold! We were not imagining the look of disbelief in the staff who took our order. Their “small” crab turned out to be good for 2 people. LOL! Good thing we were still quite hungry so we were able to finish everything. We even paired the chili crab with fried mantou and what made it really yummy was when we dipped the bread in the chili crab sauce. YUM!!! Super busog dinner!

Included the spoon for reference, LOL

Next day was our free day and we decided to go to NATIONAL GALLERY SINGAPORE based on C’s recommendation. The place was absolutely huge and we most likely saw thousands of artworks.

We spent the whole morning going around the whole gallery. My friends know that I am not a big fan of art but here are some of the artworks that I really liked:

Expense of Spirit in a Waste of Shame by Suzanne Victor – artwork made after SG government decided to stop funding performance art in 1994

Flowers on Four Panels by Ju Lian – 1903

Merapi, Eruption by Day / Night by Raden Saleh

Espana y Filipinas by Juan Luna – 1884

Boschbrand (Forest Fire) by Raden Saleh – 1849

Port Scene by Mori Kinsen

Fishpond in Malabon by Fernando Cueto Amorsolo – 1942

Some more pictures I took during our trip in the gallery:

 

We had lunch at Din Tai Fung afterwards – menu is somewhat similar to PH branches but a few of the unique items were the century egg and roasted duck in wrapper.

 

We enjoyed everything we ordered in DTF. Good timing to be busog because our next stop was Gardens By The Bay.

Kansai, Day 11: Osaka

J and I woke up early to go to Osaka Central Fish Market. We read that ENDO SUSHI is located there, which is considered as one of the best sushi restaurants in Osaka.

Taxi driver dropped us off near an intersection and pointed to the direction towards the fish market. So we walked and avoided some transportation carts in the area… Less busier than Tsukiji but still needed to exercise caution while walking.

MARCH 16, 2017

Last day of our trip!!! T_T

J and I woke up early to go to Osaka Central Fish Market. We read that ENDO SUSHI is located there, which is considered as one of the best sushi restaurants in Osaka.

Taxi driver dropped us off near an intersection and pointed to the direction towards the fish market. So we walked and avoided some transportation carts in the area… Less busier than Tsukiji but still needed to exercise caution while walking. We eventually found the small restaurant and we were immediately assisted to a table. I got the “first plate” (anago, uni, tai, toro, hamachi) plus an extra order of tuna and salmon sushi.

We went back to our Airbnb after breakfast to do final pack up for our remaining luggage. We had some of our bags delivered to KIX the previous day via KURONEKO YAMATO in JR Namba Station (http://www.kuronekoyamato.co.jp/en/hands-freetravel/kinki/index.html#osaka_wrap). And because of this, we had less luggage to bring during this day. We still opted to leave our suitcase for the day in Kuroneko Yamato so that we can explore Dotonbori without worry.

Nothing much to do anymore in Dotonbori so we went to our lunch place and waited for about 30 minutes for its opening time. Behold, MATSUSAKAGYU YAKINIKU M, a restaurant well-known for its Matsusaka beef. This was recommended by my cousin and I am so glad that we followed her.

This was the most expensive meal I had in Japan so far… But every yen was worth it!!! J and I got the premium course which costs ¥7,800 per person. Cute, funny story here was that one of the staff who assisted us during cooking stared at us then eventually asked us if we were at Honke Shibato the previous night. We said yes with puzzled eyes… Turned out that she was the same staff who assisted us in that resto. 😊

 

Started off with these assorted appetizers… Reminded us of omakase style because it was the chef who decided what to serve for this set.

 

Then we got this first set of Matsusaka beef to grill – short rib with garlic sauce…

 

For the rice/noodles option, we both got this garlic rice…… THIS IS DEFINITELY A MUST ORDER!!! I took small bites so that I could savor this longer.

Garlic rice — nakakaiyak sa sarap!

Then we also had Matsusaka beef sushi which piqued our interest – marbled beef sushi and lean beef sushi…

 

The last set we got was composed of 4 different parts of Matsusaka beef – sirloin steak, flap meat, haneshita, kyukyoku.

The highlight of the course!!!

For the dessert, I chose ice cream with yuzu sherbet flavor and it was damn good!

After lunch, J and I bought mini Pablo cheesecakes to bring home. It was convenient for us to leave our luggage in Kuroneko Yamato because the airport limousine bus station is located nearby. We purchased tickets prior to exploring Dotonbori in the morning to make sure that we would not be late in the airport.

That finally concludes our long stay in Japan… Can’t wait to go back this year! 🙂

 

LINKS TO OTHER KANSAI REGION / JAPAN 2017 POSTS:

Japan, Day 0-1: Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, Northern Higashiyama)

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Japan, Day 6: Kobe >> Osaka

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

Japan, Day 9: Universal Studios

Japan, Day 10 (AM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 10 (PM): Ise-shima

Kansai, Day 10 (PM): Ise-shima

After braving the strong wind, we finally saw the famous MEOTO IWA (“Wedded Rocks”). It is said that the larger rock represents the husband while the smaller one is the wife, and this couple is actually a representation of Izanagi and Izanami, the gods who created Japan.

It may not look as majestic as the ones in photos seen online, but they say that the best time to go here is during high tide and sunrise – get to see the sun rising between the two rocks.

Continuation of our Ise-Shima adventure!

After lunch in Ebiya, we went back to the Ujiyamada Station to go to Meoto Iwa. When we arrived at the Futamino-Ura Station, we could really feel the rural life. There was no machine for us to insert our ticket as we headed towards the exit. Instead, there was an old man who checked our ticket. After exiting the station, there was no vehicle even on the main road. It was a good thing there was a local who we could ask for directions going to Meoto Iwa. He only spoke Japanese but his directions using his hands (even including Y gesture to signal the fork road) were very clear.

 

We walked for about 20 minutes before we finally arrived by the seaside. I was expecting to enjoy the scenery but the wind was really strong… strong enough to pull up my hoodie!

We went inside Futamiokitama Shrine, which is generously decorated with frogs of different sizes.

 

Ema with Meoto Iwa design

After braving the strong wind, we finally saw the famous MEOTO IWA (“Wedded Rocks”). It is said that the larger rock represents the husband while the smaller one is the wife, and this couple is actually a representation of Izanagi and Izanami, the gods who created Japan.

It may not look as majestic as the ones in photos seen online, but they say that the best time to go here is during high tide and sunrise – get to see the sun rising between the two rocks. These rocks, connected by Shimenawa rope (Shinto sacred rope), are also considered as a symbol of marriage.

If you are into drainspotting, do not miss the manhole cover in this area which showcases Meoto Iwa.

Drainspotting: sunrise at Meoto Iwa

Only saw this map when we were headed back — shows the route from train station to Meoto Iwa

When we got back in Ujiyamada Station, we had to purchase tickets back to Osaka. We did not purchase this beforehand since we were not sure what time we will finish our adventure in Ise-Shima. We somehow regretted it because ticket price per person was around 2,000 or 3,000+ yen. We also made a mistake of boarding the wrong train (1 minute earlier than ours!!) so we had to pay an extra fee.

The train is called Premium Express Shimakaze. It definitely looked and felt premium than the train we rode in the morning – reclining chair, automated window blinds… We even got a boarding certificate to commemorate our ride.

 

Lesson learned: Japanese trains arrive on the dot unless they announce otherwise. Who would have thought that that train which arrived 1 minute earlier is indeed different from the one we should have boarded. Oh well.

For our last dinner during this trip, we decided to go to HONKE SHIBATO, a restaurant famous for its eel dishes. The restaurant is 300+ years old so their quality is definitely something to be trusted. If you are on a budget, definitely skip this place then. We both got the Osaka Mamushi, which costs ¥2,730 per order. It was my first time to eat eel and their unagi definitely did not disappoint.

Even the cover looks premium!

Close up shot of that delicious unagi!

The staff was really nice and they even offered to take our picture outside the shop. 🙂

Next post is our last day in Japan. T_T

 

LINKS TO OTHER KANSAI REGION / JAPAN 2017 POSTS:

Japan, Day 0-1: Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, Northern Higashiyama)

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Japan, Day 6: Kobe >> Osaka

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

Japan, Day 9: Universal Studios

Japan, Day 10 (AM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 11: Osaka

Kansai, Day 10 (AM): Ise-Shima

Last day trip outside Osaka before we head back to MNL. Our destination is Ise-Shima, mainly because I want to go to Ise Jingu which is dedicated to the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Hence, it is considered as the holiest Shinto shrine in Japan. I read before that locals wish to visit this place at least once before they die.

January weekends were quite busy so I only had the time today to finally post the first half of our Ise-Shima day trip! Here you go…

MARCH 15, 2017

Last day trip outside Osaka before we head back to MNL. Our destination is Ise-Shima, mainly because I want to go to Ise Jingu which is dedicated to the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Hence, it is considered as the holiest Shinto shrine in Japan. I read before that locals wish to visit this place at least once before they die.

I bought our train tickets back in Manila by going to the English website of Kintetsu Japan. Got our Limited Express train ticket for ¥2,640 (2 pax) so we had an early train to catch for this day. The trip was about an hour.

Upon arriving at Ujiyamada Station, we looked for a bus that would take us to GEKU (OUTER SHRINE) of Ise Jingu. It is relatively smaller than Naiku (inner shrine) but nonetheless, a tranquil and breathtaking place. Geku is dedicated to Toyouke Omikami, deity of three essentials of human life: cloth, food and shelter”.

Further exploring Geku, I saw a couple going up these stairs and eventually found myself in front of a small shrine. Paid respect before leaving for Naiku…

From Geku, we rode a bus that would take us to Naiku. They said that another option is to walk but that would be too long and it us usually done for pilgrims.

Upon reaching NAIKU (INNER SHRINE), we were greeted by this first torii framing Ujibashi bridge.

Fun fact: Ujibashi bridge is rebuilt every 20 years as part of the Shikinen Sengu. The most recent Shikinen Sengu happened in 2013. All shrine buildings and main bridges in Ise Jingu are rebuilt every 20 years, and they source their wood from the trees grown within the shrine grounds. Through rebuilding, it is said that the power of the deity is renewed.

From the bridge, it was quite a long walk before we reach the area to do temizu. Notice how people only walk along the side and not stepping on the center area. If I remember correctly what our Tokyo tour guide said, this is because the center aisle can only be walked by their deities. It was easy to spot tourists because some kept on walking on the center part.

We reached the area where you could do the usual way of doing temizu but I could not pass up the opportunity to try the traditional way…

Here by the riverbed of the Isuzugawa, you can directly soak your hands in the water and rinse your mouth. Temizu is a must whenever entering shrines and temples as it is said that the gods loathe impurity; hence, the need to cleanse the mind and body through this method.

A little bit of walk from here and I saw the prayer hall, where I bought two types of omamori (Japanese amulet that provides luck or protection) for myself and one for our home.

Naiku is definitely bigger than Geku and the place does not feel like the usual shrine. Think of Meiji Jingu but a lot bigger and with longer walks from one spot to another. I definitely enjoyed walking slowly and taking in the sights here.

We finally reached the Shogu, the main palace. This is the area dedicated to Amaterasu-Omikami, Shinto’s most venerated deity, and her sacred mirror is believed to be enshrined inside. Most people are not allowed to enter here but donors and bigtime people are given special exemptions. Locals still pay their respect by bowing and praying.

After retracing our steps back to the entrance, we walked a bit more and reached OKAGE YOKOCHO. I read that this is part of Oharaimachi, the traditional approach to Naiku. The place is a recreation of how towns looked like from Edo to Meiji period.

An interesting thing here is “tabearuki” (食べ歩き), which means that food/local delicacies can be eaten while walking around the area. This is a big deal because in Japan, eating while walking is considered taboo and disrespectful.

We also passed by this shop which had a long line so we decided to join and see what the fuss is about. Apparently, they were lining up for this mochi-like product made of red beans. There was no English product callout or explanation so I am not sure what it is… But when I took a bite of it when I got home, I understood why. Not a fan of adzuki but this one did not have the overpowering bean taste plus it was not too sticky.

Some more exploration in the area and we found a shop that was selling fried chicken as street food. We bought one serving and we were blown away by the taste. I could not remember though the name of the place. 😦

We made sure that we were able to go around the whole area before we decided to get lunch… I realized that the only activity we did in Okage Yokocho was to eat. Oops! We went inside this restaurant called EBIYA (ebi means shrimp) because we were attracted by their menu outside the restaurant.

We both got the tekonezushi set meal, which included a huge piece of raw abalone. I have always been curious on how it tastes especially after seeing abalone in different Korean variety shows. Proof of its freshness was when I squeezed the lemon over it, the meat-like stuff wriggled for a long time!

Meal set J and I got

Raw abalone (gumagalaw pa!!)

Tekonezushi is also known as “fisherman’s sushi/meal” as it is believed that this originated from a meal that fishermen made while out in the sea. It is a local delicacy in Ise which consists of marinated red-meat fish (usually tuna or skipjack), vinegared rice, and garnish. In our case, we were served tuna with Japanese pickles.

Tekonezushi

Next half of our adventure in Ise-Shima is in the next post. 😊

 

LINKS TO OTHER KANSAI REGION / JAPAN 2017 POSTS:

Japan, Day 0-1: Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, Northern Higashiyama)

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Japan, Day 6: Kobe >> Osaka

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

Japan, Day 9: Universal Studios

Japan, Day 10 (PM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 11: Osaka