After leaving Tokyo, the remainder of our time in Japan would be spent heading to an onsen town, riding rollercoasters at Universal Studios and hand feeding adorable deer in Nara.
We also spent some time heading to see the famous snow monkeys – but that was so disappointing I don’t even want to waste time writing about it!
Our first stop after Tokyo was to a small town in Nagano prefecture. Why visit this little town?
To stay in a ryokan!
A ryokan is a traditional type of Japanese inn characterised by tatami-matted beds and communal bathrooms.
The appeal of staying at this particular ryokan was that the town it is located in is home to a whole bunch of traditional onsens!
We spent our evening hopping from one bath to the next, soaking in the (supposedly) therapeutic baths. These baths are used by many town locals as their main way to bathe, and thus the baths are divided into male and female areas. However, even though Ethan and I couldn’t enjoy a soak together, we could often hear the other in the neighbouring bath!
They were all so different (especially when it came to temperature) and it was quite entertaining listening to each other fail at fully submerging in the sometimes near boiling water.
The next day was spent/wasted on going to see the famous snow monkeys, and that evening we made our way to Osaka. The main reason we wanted to travel to Osaka?
It was the perfect jumping off point to visit Universal Studios!
With the exceptions of the Jurassic Park ride and the main Harry Potter one, most of them were fairly ‘meh’, but we had enough fun in Harry Potter World to make it all worth the trip. As an added bonus, watching Ethan turn an interesting shade of green after I made him ride the Jurassic Park ride multiple times was undeniably enjoyable.
If you have been following this blog since the early days, you are probably well aware of how much I love Harry Potter! In light of recent comments by a certain author who shall not be named, I am no longer a fan of said author, but the Harry Potter series was a huge part of my childhood and adolescence; having the opportunity to visit this wonderful theme park afforded me the ability to feel like a little kid again, and that is something really wonderful.
Our final adventure before we returned to Tokyo and then travelled to the Philippines was a little day trip to Nara temple. The temple itself was beautiful (although I can’t find any pictures from there to save my life) but the real appeal were the many, many deer that call this temple and surrounding city home.
We spotted at least 50 deer before we even got off the bus in the town centre!
Once we finally got off the bus, we wasted no time in buying some pellets from one of the stores next to the park and were promptly accosted by a whole lotta gorgeous deer.
At first they seemed quite innocent, but before too long we were fending off head nudges and butt bites from all angles! Having a cheeky deer bite your booty isn’t exactly a pleasant experience!
It’s crazy now to think that this short stint in Japan would be one of my last overseas trips for TWO YEARS. If I’d known that, I probably would’ve eaten a few extra bowls of ramen!
That being said, it just gives me more incentive to go back as soon as possible and enjoy Japan all over again.
Nagano Ryokan: I feel like the worst blogger in the world, but Ethan booked it and I genuinely cannot remember the name of it… put me in the bin!
Universal Studios Japan: We booked our tickets through Klook, which had a deal for a one day ticket with four fast passes (all for different rides) for around $70 AUD – this is no longer a deal and it looks like many fast passes aren’t available at the time of writing due to Covid-19. For up to date ticket information, click here to visit the official Universal Studios Japan site
Nara Temple: The park surrounding Tōdai-ji is free to visit, but to visit the museum and hall (and you absolutely should) it will set you back ¥1000, which is around $12 AUD
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: Don’t eat a big meal before riding the Jurassic Park ride!