Destinations Expat Life Japan

Notes from Japan

This post is another old write-up written about our ten day trip to Japan. We had been living in China for almost a year and a half at that point and had not left the country for over six months. China requires a bit of patience, and we were at the end of ours. I find it interesting now living in Germany, the things I miss most about China are the things I hated then.


Notes from Japan


I’m making a lot of generalizations here. I’m at my “china threshold” so everything is much more glamorous in my eyes right now. I understand living somewhere is extremely different from visiting, and you only see the surface when you visit. With that said,

Japan is everything we needed.

It’s relaxing, clean, peaceful, and currently with sunny weather. Also, it’s QUIET. Sooo quiet. It ‘s nice to hear the usual street noises and not hear tons of honking, blaring music, and loudspeakers everywhere. It’s nice to go out to eat and hear soft, calm music and quiet sounds of utensils hitting the table, whispers of conversation and not dishes slamming together, people hacking and chewing with their mouths open making unreal noises with their mouths, and normal dinner conversations that include everyone screaming at each other. I’m not sure why Chinese people always sound like they are mad and yelling at each other, but that’s how it sounds. On subways, the noises of the train are all you can hear, not people yelling into their phones believing the louder the scream into the phone, the more the person on the other side of the phone will understand what is being said.

Oh, and the food! We haven’t yet had anything fancy or special, but it tastes so fresh! Not oily! Slightly sweet, and not too salty! My stomach feels much calmer. No “China gut” as my sister put it when she visited. I can’t forget to mention the bathrooms and the toilets! I’ve never experienced so much clean and clean smelling public restrooms. Here, unlike China, they all have soap and toilet paper. Such a treat! 
Ok, ok, I’ll talk about what we’ve done so far. Our time here in Osaka has been full if clear skies with unlimited visibility. We’ve been breathing very deep and enjoying the crisp fall air.  The first afternoon we went to a section of Osaka called Minoh Park, enjoying a nice walk with a waterfall at the end and snacking on tasty maple leaf tempura chips. 


Minoh Waterfall

Maple leaf chips. Yummy!

Our Group

The next day we toured Osaka, stopping at a museum that we didn’t know was closed, the famous Osaka Castle, and sky “garden” (Umeda Sky Building) where I got to snap some sunset pictures.  I don’t think it would have mattered what we did that day, Mike and I were just greatly enjoying walking around, and experiencing everything China is not. 

Let’s move on

Osaka Castle Moat

The air was so clear! I will always appreciate clear air after living in China

Different view of the Castle

Sunset views from the “sky garden.”


Yesterday we toured a nearby city Nara, where the famous Todaiji Temple and deer park is. Such a relaxing day, even though we were on our feet for ten hours.

Todaiji Temple

Inside the temple

Inside the temple

Deer, just chilling

The deer were not afraid!



Today I learned that Kyoto likes pumpkin. In one day, without going out of my way, I ate pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin latte, and pumpkin tempura. Why did we not live in Kyoto? (I LOVE pumpkin. I could eat it every day.)

Crowds even in Japan

We were lucky to see Geisha in Kyoto!

A girl dressed up in costume. Probably Chinese.

Another Geisha!

Temple Grounds

Temple Grounds

We met up with new Olmsted Scholars in Kyoto

October 9th
Mike needed a new ID card and had to take an army language test. This was the primary objective of our trip to Japan, so we stopped at Camp Zama for two nights, an Army base outside of Tokyo.
The first night we were craving traditional American style buffalo wings. We went to one of few places to have dinner, a sports bar. It seemed an event was going on that night, some event that occurred every Thursday evening.  Everyone was speaking English. People were dressed in sneakers and sweatshirts, drinking beer and laughing with each other. It seemed so familiar in many ways, but not at all in others. Unfortunately, both Mike and I felt a similar eerie feeling to returning from a deployment. A feeling that’s hard to explain. A desire to connect with the current environment and people, but something felt disconnected. We could enjoy it, but almost feel like we’re observers, and it’s not our life. I know this feeling is temporary, but I was surprised I would feel that way around Americans.
Later that trip,
We finished our trip to Japan in Tokyo.

Toyko can be strange. We had lunch at a weird Alice in Wonderland themed cafe in the basement of a mall

I bought a new lens at one of the huge camera stores. I was like a kid in a toy store. This picture was me testing the new lens!

Tons of shopping in Tokyo

We had hoped to spend a night in Nikko National Park, being peak fall season with beautiful colors, however, we got a last minute reservation at the military resort in downtown Tokyo. We didn’t want to pass up a cheap night in an impressive hotel.

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