Japan: The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (Osaka)

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The Instant Ramen Museum

I first heard about the Instant Ramen Museum from our friends Chris and Hannah. They went to Japan for their honeymoon and visited the museum. After I saw photos of them making their own instant ramen from scratch, I knew we needed to go too!

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Japan: Nara

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Nara was Japan’s first permanent capital, 710 – 794 AD, and only 30 minutes away by train from both Kyoto and Osaka! There are 8 UNESCO World Heritage sights, 2nd only to Kyoto.

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Japan: Dōtonbori / Street Food (Osaka)

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Dotonbori at night

Dōtonbori is amazing! Situated along the Dōtonbori Canal, you can find bright lights, delicious street food, tons of people, and a great energy!

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Japan: Koyasan

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Delicious dinner at our temple on Mount Koya

Koyasan is a Buddhist community located on top of Mount Koya in the Wakayama Prefecture (just south of Kyoto and Osaka). We decided early on in our planning to make the trek up the sacred mountain and spend the night at Kongo Sanmaiin, one of the Buddhist temples.

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Japan: Yakiniku (Kyoto)

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Meet Bowl in Kyoto for yakiniku

Yakiniku means “grilled meat” in Japanese. The grilling is done inside the restaurant at your table on a grill placed over the direct flame of charcoals. Yakiniku focuses on drawing out the natural flavor of the meat. Additional seasoning is often no more than a bit of salt, a squeeze of lemon, or a splash of “tare” (dipping sauce) after the meat has been grilled. Because of the focus on the flavor of the beef, yakiniku requires high-quality ingredients as well as extra care so as not to overcook it and ruin the beef’s intricate flavor and texture.

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Japan: Fushimi Sake District (Kyoto)

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Fushimi Sake District

Japan Guide describes it best: The Fushimi Sake District is a charming, traditional sake brewing district along the willow-lined Horikawa River in southern Kyoto. Revered for the clean, soft water that flows in abundance from the river’s underground springs, the district is home to nearly 40 sake breweries.

Walking through Fushimi, you can’t help but notice the beautiful traditional appearance of the buildings with wood and white-plaster walls. We didn’t have a lot of time in Fushimi (everything closes at 4:30PM!) but we made it a point to visit the Go-kawa River, the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, and the Fushimi Yume Hyakushu Café for a sake tasting.

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Japan: Kikunoi (Kyoto)

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Approaching Kikunoi

Dining at the 3 star kaiseki restaurant Kikunoi in Kyoto for our 8th year wedding anniversary was a highlight of the trip. Kaiseki is Japanese haute cuisine, and a big influence of the Michelin tasting menus we know today. A kaiseki dinner is made up of many courses (our’s had 12) that change monthly with the season.

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Japan: Arashiyama (Kyoto)

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Arashiyama welcome sign

 

Arashiyama is a beautiful district located in west Kyoto, tucked along the base of the Arashiyama Mountains (meaning “Storm Mountains”). Arashiyama is a must for anyone visiting Kyoto, and although it takes a bit of time coming from central Kyoto, you can easily fill your day with all of the sites.

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Japan: Nikka Distillery Day Trip from Tokyo

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Koen’s only request for our trip to Japan was to visit a couple of whisky distilleries, specifically Nikka. Nikka Whisky is actually comprised of 2 distilleries: Miyagikyo in Sendai and Yoichi in Hokkaido – both in northern Japan. Seeing as Yoichi was a 10 hour train ride from Tokyo, Sendai seemed more than doable at 3 hours each way by train (so 6 hours travel in total). Well worth it for whisky lovers!

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