japan – 4.

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alas, the last of the japan posts is here – but it certainly not the least of them. this bit captures some of the things that the others do not. the unique fashions of tokyo, superstitions found near mount fuji, dance culture in an all-day festival in osaka,  the suspense of seconds-long sumo matches and the claustrophobic sensation of being buried up to the neck in steaming hot sand.

overall, i would describe the trip to japan as an eye-opening, thought-provoking and enriching experience. it has a very special place in my heart and i highly recommend it as a travel destination. some of the highlights of the trip were not caught by the camera, but are worth mentioning.

onsens – we visited quite a few. if you don’t mind being naked with strangers then these bath houses are worth a visit. learn the art of getting seriously clean by trying to follow along as locals use a toothbrush to clean underneath their fingernails, shampoo their hair a good four times and scrub their skin raw before immersing themselves in the adjacent hot spring. my favorite was in ibusuki, where the hot spring was outdoors and overlooked the entire peninsula.

karaoke – different than the lone fool onstage at a bar that you might be imagining. in japan, karaoke takes place in private acoustic rooms where you and fellow fools can rent by the hour and order food and alcohol up to help the process along. i wasn’t so into the idea so we agreed on one hour and two beers. at the end of the hour we picked up the phone to call down to reception and ask if we can stay for another hour. at the end of that hour, we extended for another. yes, we sang our little hearts out for three full hours (with the help of about six beers) and it was too much fun.

osaka aquarium – we knew we wanted to visit at least one aquarium while in japan, as they have very many. we ended up going to one in osaka, where they have a whale shark! i’ve been to san diego’s seaworld a good number of times, but a whale shark i had yet to see. at the end of our visit, we left our contribution to overpriced plush toys at the souvenir store.

disneysea – tokyo is home to both a disneyland and the world’s only disneysea. having been to disneyland several times as a child – and as an adult – disneysea was the obvious choice. it was a spontaneous day trip that we had decided on the night before on the train ride back to our hotel. we happened to flip over our tokyo map and see an ad for it and it ended up being one of the most memorable parts of the whole trip for a few reasons: 1) cracking the code of how to use fastpass in the most efficient way possible – hint: there’s a real-time app for it, 2) overcoming a fear of roller coasters – not me, pffft – and  3) curry flavored popcorn – it’s life-changing.

see more of our japan experiences here, here and here.

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^^ mexican heritage festival in osaka. caught us off-guard, but it was very refreshing ^^

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^^ do not miss a sumo tournament if you are in tokyo during their season ^^

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^^ “my nose is itchy” – spoken within seconds of not being able to scratch his own nose ^^

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^^ increase your longevity by seven years by eating kuro-tamago. eggs turned black when hard-boiled in the hot springs ^^

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