April 3rd: We landed in Osaka and caught the first train to Nara. We were frozen! It was so cold! SE Asia made us soft and suddenly 8°C was way too cold.
April 4th: We spent the day walking around the small city of Nara.
Nara is famous for its park with over 1500 Sika deer that roam free. They used to be considered divine and sacred but have been re-designated as national treasures. It was so beautiful seeing all the deer under the cherry blossoms in full bloom. The deer were cute but definitely not polite. We watched many a tourist get chased and nipped at by deer when they withheld crackers.
April 5th: We did a day trip to Kyoto. On the way, we stopped at Fushimi Inari-taisha to walk through the torii that wind up Mount Inari.
Once in Kyoto, we checked out the skyway and observation deck at the Kyoto Station. It’s main hall has an exposed steel beamed roof and multiple escalators up to the observation deck.
From the train station, we made our way to the Philosopher’s Path which follows a canal and is lined with cherry blossom trees.
April 6th: We originally planned to spend this day in Osaka but we really enjoyed walking around Nara so we decided to stay close to our hostel and spent the day in Nara.
April 7th: We took the train to Kobe where we went for a short hike to a waterfall. I gorged on baked goods from a delicious bakery (Isuzu Bakery). This was the first time in my life where I chose a savory treat over a sweet treat – curry buns are that good!
After our mini hike, we walked back into town and treated ourselves to Kobe steak from Steakland. We opted for the most and least expensive steaks on the menu just to see the extremes. The least expensive was one of the best steaks I’ve had, meaning the most expensive was unreal! It was as good as all the hype!
After lunch, we visited the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum where we got to try some sake, some plum wines, and ate some sake ice cream.
April 8th: We took the westbound train to Kurashiki and stopped in Himeji on the way. Himeji is famous for the castle which is a beautifully restored white-walled compound on a hill with a moat.
April 9th: We woke up to a beautiful day in Kurashiki. We spent the morning walking around the Bikan district (the old merchant quarter).
From Kurashiki, we took the train to Onomichi to do the Temple Walk which connects 25 temples.
From Onomichi, we took the train to Hiroshima. The Hiroshima Toyo Carp (baseball team) had a game just a few blocks from our hostel. We asked if tickets were available and our host smiled like that was a silly question – it had been sold out for a while I think 😦