Continued from Part 1:
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(Kyoto) Here we did mostly the same things I did with Gram back in the summer – we visited the Imperial Palace and the Golden Pavilion during one day, then checked out the famous Fushimi Inari shrine the next.
The old Imperial Palace grounds were specially open at the time of our visit, and tons of people were wandering. There were vendors outside the palace, and as we cruised around, an old woman came up, grabbed my arm, and said “COME TRY THIS!” She brought me to a booth where a woman gave me a couple of sample size treats made from rice flour. She waited for me to try, and once she realized I liked what I was eating, she walked away, satisfied. Well. Okay then. I love moments like those.
We got to Kinkakuji at the end of the day, so we just cruised around the temple pretty quickly.
You may have seen Fushimi Inari in the movies or in photos – it’s a short train ride out of Kyoto, and quite a hike to the top of the hill. The day was pretty warm, and we flaked out before we made it all the way.
This was our last stop in Kyoto. Our dinner that night was at a pasta place in Kyoto station. We were “sentenced” to our meals before getting on the Shinkansen back to Tokyo.
We didn’t get back to my apartment until about midnight that night, so we slept in the next day and took things pretty easy before heading to Senso-ji for some sightseeing and shopping.
We did a little shopping in this area – Mom and Dad wanted to get some gifts for friends and family back home. I took them next out to my favorite place – Odaiba. We enjoyed the view and got dinner overlooking the bay.
Our last stop for the day was at a bar in Shibuya. My parents saw this place on Anthony Bourdain, and when they found out Taro brought me here one night, they wanted me to bring them too.
They got a kick out of the teeny, steep stairs leading up to the second story. I look like I’m 50 feet tall in this photo, which is very exciting for me.
The next day was our last full day in the city. We moved out of my apartment and checked into a hotel in Shinjuku.
I had an interview that day, so I left my charges to explore Shinjuku while I was away. They checked out the observation deck of the Metropolitan government building, and wandered around some gardens. I was so glad to find that they were able to make it around on their own.
When I returned to the hotel a few hours later, we headed about a block away to visit a few izakayas high up in one of the skyscrapers in Shinjuku. We enjoyed drinks and finger food while overlooking the city.
The next morning I headed back to my office to say goodbye to my coworkers and return a few things. I got a bit teary-eyed when my boss walked me back to the station in the rain. It was a rough day, to be sure.
The weirdest thing about my family being with me was having someone to talk to at virtually all times. I was so accustomed to not speaking, or to just thinking out loud to myself (when at home), but having other people to verbally communicate with was very, very bizarre.
My parents really, really enjoyed their experience and I’m glad they got a taste of a wide variety of the things Japan has to offer. It took them a very short amount of time to understand why I love it so much, and they both agreed that Tokyo was amazing. They’ve had nothing but good things to say since their return, and I think they’d both like to come back someday. I’m so glad they kept an open mind and were willing to try so many new things. I know there are a ton of pictures here, but they took close to 700 over the course of a week and a half! They loved their trip, and I’m glad I got to share life here with them. I’m sure they’ll be very receptive to returning. My younger brother is already making plans for the things he wants to do in the future.