Narita, Japan 2019 – The start of our trip

Narita was our first stop on our month long Japan trip. Many people skip Narita because they think there isn’t much there, just the airport, that’s all. However, the competition was based out at an airport hotel, and we didn’t think it would be worth it traveling in to Tokyo.

I found it really hard to find anything to do in Narita when Googlíng, and there is a reason for that – it’s not a main tourist destination, there isn’t the WOW locations like Fushimi Inari or the Golden Temple in Kyoto, or the busy streets of Osaka and Tokyo. No, most people think it’s a location to fly in and fly out. However what is present is an amazing Park site and a pretty cool shopping strip!


We stayed at Hotel Welco, we requested a smoke free room however the room we got was a previous smokers room. We didn’t have any view, however it was cheap, close to Lawsons (a 7-11 alternative) and close to transport so we could get around for the day we were in Narita town.


Like I said, there isn’t too much to do in Narita, but like all Japanese towns, they had a temple site and park, and a small shopping strip which I found amazing!

Naritasan Park

Naritasan Park is a large location which has gardens, Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, a Great Peace Pagoda, a calligraphy museum, ponds and waterfalls, and well kept gardens.

We skipped the calligraphy museum due to the price, however we walked all around the gardens and took some cool photos. This was our first taste of temples in Japan and I loved it!

The Great Peace Pagoda was truly an amazing site, it was built in 1984 to celebrate the temples 1,150th anniversary. The water feature you in the gallery below is the site you can see from the steps leading away from the pagoda. While this is a young building in comparison to all the other buildings on site, it’s really a site to behold!

The great hall (Daihondo) is a large building on site which was built in 1712. I am unsure what the colored flags surrounding the building are – in photos online of the building, the flags are not present. The tower next to the building was built to pay respect to Prince Shotoku (572 – 622 AD).

These bricks have messages enscribed in them but we’re unsure what any of them said. They could be buiness pay to be here (Like Fushimi Inari) however I read online that there was also Poems in this park from notable Poets, perhaps these are them?

There was also a Buddhist temple and what I recall (I think!) used to be a storage of grain? I can’t remember! I Wish I took photos of the description boards. We went inside the temple, but we couldn’t take photos (common place in all temples)

We got a lot of photos from around the park, too. I’ll add those at the end as part of a larger gallery.

Omotesando Road

On the way to the Park, you have to go down Omotesando Road (not be confused with the same road in Tokyo!). The road is very narrow and has 100s of small shops selling freshly made goods or souvenirs. I’m really gutted I only have a few photos from here. Walking down the street kind of sends you back it time, doing a bit of digging, apparently this is the road which was the last leg of the trip from Edo (Tokyo) to the Temple. Travelers would stop here to rest and eat. We stopped at a cafe where I got to try some amazing fluffy pancakes, which I didn’t get a photo of, either. So just check out the restaurants Trip Advisor here for photos. It was the only restaurant in the whole of our trip where we sat on the floor. I expected we’d be doing that a lot more then we actually ended up doing!.

We also visited a mall, and went to Watami Narita. Which had good food and drinks.

So overall, no, there isn’t a million things to do here like in Koyto or Tokyo, there’s no “IG influencer” worthy shots here, but the gardens are beautiful, same with the temple. The shopping street is fascinating and there are quite a few nice restaurants around! I would recommend staying in Narita if you had, say a half day spare before you fly out and you want be close to the airport. Maybe don’t stay at the hotel we did though if you are sensitive to smoke.

Tokyo 2019 – The highlights.

Carrying on from last weeks post, it’s hard to put every place we went into a numerical order of what was bestest to… not bestest? Today I’m feeling Tokyo, so let me share some highlights (and I’m happy to answer any questions!)

Tokyo was the second part of our journey after Narita. We met up with some friends here, and did various activities together. Tokyo is huge and every time I went to plan out our time in Tokyo, I normally ended up closing the browser entirely, because compared to “large” New Zealand towns, Tokyo is huge, on top of that, the population is almost double the size of New Zealand, in a single city! crazy!

Accommodation: I won’t dwell on this too much. It was a tiny room in a Super Hotel in Shinjuku, about a 1.2km walk from the main Shinjuku train line. To get from the train line to our accom, we walked right through the busy town, which for someone whose grown up in small town NZ – was a little scary! Anyway. The accomidation – nothing much here. Really small. Not greatly priced, but close to stuff.

Activities and stuff:

You can tell I’m not normally a travel blogger – “activities and stuff?” IE: Shit we did in Tokyo. As I said, we met up with two groups of friends when here. We did a lot eating and a lot of walking!

Takeshita Street: One thing on my must do list was defo Takeshita Street. Now, there’s no way I’d fit into any of the clothes or even have luggage to cart it around if did buy stuff – nope, what I wanted was the food. And I only have two pictures of what I ate there, which is upsetting, yet its colorful so it makes me happy anyway!

The sights of Harajuku were pretty cool, we saw a lot of school kids (or YA?) walking around in Harajuku type clothes – not as much as I’d seen on all of the travel guides though. I little underwhelming, if I’m honest. The food was neat (the candy floss was flavored!)

teamLab Borderless: This is an interactive walk through… group of rooms (A lot of rooms?) where you can squish light bugs (they die if you step on them :() move water around you, get some cool pictures in some awesome light and ah… well, my friends said it was cool but it’d be better if they were tripping.. honestly, I’d have no clue. it was cool. Got some nice photos – The cellphone was better than the expensive camera. That’s the way life goes, isn’t it?

Robot Restaurant: Can you go to Tokyo without at least trying this place out? The answer is no. Lights, sound, people pretending to be robots, what more do you want? The only disappointment? It’s not a damn restaurant! They had intermission snacks, but not actual restaurant food. 🙁 I’d recommend taking ear plugs if you have sensitive ears, and a camera which is good at taking photos in low light.

Tokyo Tower: Next and last activity we did (I know, we probably missed out on so much, but we only had a few days!) was Tokyo Tower. It’s a tall tower where you can go right up the top and see the city. It’s expensive, but worth it! I’ll let the pictures speak.

Monster Cafe: We didn’t pick a proper show time. We also chose the cheapest seats. It was such a disappointment and not worth the money we spent. It was cool to see all the bright, weird and fun stuff they have there, but… eh, I think it was overrated.


Two stand out locations in Tokyo (well, out of the food I remember). Niether I got pictures of, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Butagumi Shokudō (Roppongi) I’m not going to lie – I had to go back on my Google Timeline to find this because it was our friend that found it, and all I know is that they do damn good pork tonkatsu but I had no idea what the place was called. Look, I didn’t even know what pork tonkatsu was before I went here. And now I am disappointed that nothing in New Zealand will ever live up to it. Ever. Ever ever. There have cheap cuts and expensive cuts (I think we had one of each and both are certainly amazing! 10/10). You sit around a long tables while chefs prepare the pork in the middle of the room, it gets deep fried out back, then bought back out, cut and served. I really wish I could go back, please someone take me back!

Cafe Aaliya (Shinjuku): A very small resturant which cooks the best french toast, hands down, I’ve ever had, and it appears the reviews all around the web agree, too. Mate, if you like french toast. Go here. I nothing but good memories and regret that we only went there once while we were in Tokyo.

Random Tidbits

  • No one online ever said that Tokyo smelled like sewerage, and no one else seemed to be mentioning it around us except for our group. Maybe it was us? Maybe it was the unprecedented heat at that time of year – but the odour was present in all the areas we visited in Tokyo. Not overpowering, just unpleasant.
  • The trains are as busy as all the Youtube travel guides make them out to be, yet somehow I never got inappropriately touched, no one stood on my shoe, no one smelled unpleasant and even if they did, I don’t remember having to stand nose to armpit, anyway.
  • The area that the Robot Restaurant is in – is a little dodgy, especially at night. There were people trying to peddle something (unsure what, we didn’t stick around too long). The same type of people were also in Takeshita Street, but during the day – trying to sell fake goods. In both instances these people were not Japanese. Please be careful!
  • Tokyo was almost too much to take in – I didn’t get to hit up all the restaurants or sweet (baked and candy) places I wanted to. We could easily go back for a whole week to explore more
  • The subway stations are damn confusing but SO SO conveniant. You can get anywhere by train
  • I’m unsure if we went to the wrong crossing or what, but Shabuya crossing was kinda “meh” and that was the only reason we went to that area, too! (actually looking
    • I checked with Jared. And with Google Maps. We went to the right place. It was just.. underwhelming. A quiet day in Shabuya I guess.
  • We visited some nice parks and shrines, and took some other interesting photos so I’ll include those below as “misc” things (otherwise known as “things I don’t remember until i saw the photos”)

If you want any tips, feel free to comment below! I might be able to help or at least point you in

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Kon’nichiwa! Welcome to the first of what I hope to be many travel posts.

First we’re starting of with my #1 memorable experience from Japan – Fushimi Inari Shrine & hike.

Last year, I traveled to Japan to compete at the IPF Bench Worlds 2019. After the competition, Jared and I traveled around the main island of Japan. For me, Fushimi Inari was probably my number one experience of whole trip!

The bright orange Torii gates are on the entire 4km walk, with only small gaps present. The gates are what the shrine is mostly known for – if you Google Kyoto, you’ll most likely get an image similar.

We’d heard a lot of things about the shrine walk being super popular (and we could see why during the walk!) so decided to get up super early, as recomended by a friend who went a few days before us.

Fushimi Inari is a Shinto Shrine located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. We based ourselves in the main city of Kyoto, and woke up at approx 6am to catch a train to Fushimi-ku. Thankfully, the train station is opposite the shrine so we didn’t need to travel too far!

I was going to write a bit of the history, however you can find it scattered around the internet; So I will list the things I found interesting

  • Fushimi Inari was created to enshrine the gods (or kami) of rice and sake (Inari)
  • The foxes scattered around are thought to be messengers of the Inari gods
  • There are 30,000 Inari shrines across the country, Fushimi inari is the headquaters
  • The first structures of the shrine were built in 711! They were however not built on site, instead they were built Southwester Kyoto. They were moved to this site in 816
  • The main shrine itself was built in 1499
  • Something that I thought was interesting is that on the walk, there are many vending machines and cafes and souvenir shops. It kind of took away from the experience of walking through a historical shrine

what is important to note (I think) is that there are 10,000 (yes, that’s right!) Torii gates along the 4km~ path. These gates have been donated by businesses, and on the back (or front depending what direction you’re walking!) of most of them, there are messages (or perhaps the business’ name? I don’t actually know)

I am unsure if they are buiness names, proverbs or quotes of some kind.

Originally when we were looking into Fushimi Inari, I was very hesitant, it wasn’t until the day before we went that I decided “we’ll only be here once, we should do it!”

So as I said, we left pretty early from Kyoto to beat the late risers, and were so lucky that we got there before almost anyone else, none of the photos I have include photos of other people – except for the ones I took to showcase how busy it got when we got back down the mountain.

The main shrine – I don’t think we went inside

There are small shrines scattered throughout the walk, I really wish I could speak Japanese, as I really wanted to know what they represented. A lot of the shrines (if not all?) had what I would have called grave stones. I wonder if people are burried there? Or a memorial site? Perhaps all of the shrines / “grave stone” type things I saw were just to the kami inari?

Turns out I didn’t get much photos of the small shrines etc. This is really all I have!

If you’re short on time, or not very fit, there is a half way point which has a great view to Kyoto. However – even though I was incredibly unfit, we carried on up to complete the whole thing “when in Rome!” right?

The half way point has this view of Kyoto. My camera isn’t the best – clearly.

So we kept going – as the steps got steeper, I had to stop quite a few times! Something which wouldn’t be possible if we went there with the normal tourist crowd, as apprently the line up the mountain is person to person (as opposed to bumper to bumper) one line going up and one going down and everyone just keeps walking – so you can’t stop!

I stood like this a few times. Look at that red face!

I’m quite dissapointed…. looking through all the photos we have, I have nothing from the top! The top of the walk was amazing. It was filled with 1000s of small (what I assume) shrines. Many had numbers on them, and I think when the shops were open, you could get a piece of paper which said what each shrine was – but we were there so early none of the shops on the walk up or down were open.

I went to Google images to see if I could find some images of the top of the walk – it turns out no one really goes past the mid point. But I’m telling you! You need to do it! It’s worth it to soak up that history! I’m not a very fit person, but I managed it. 🙂

I’m so glad I decided to give this walk a try, and not give up on it at the half way point. It’s so beautiful to walk and see the shrines, feel the history of the place, and even more so when it’s peaceful and noone else is around!

All in all, 10/10. I would probably even do this again! The walk is beautiful, through some amazing forest. The Torii gates are magical, something about them just makes me smile, the cute foxes scattered around, too! Plus, it’s free!

Comment below what your favorite travel destination is! Mine has so far been Japan, obviosuly with Fushimi Inari being #1 attraction for me. 🙂