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Japan, May 2014: Day Twelve

Today we have been mostly walking around the small town of Takayama. It’s been nice not to have to travel on a train (either Shinkansen or subway) to start the day and so we woke up late – which greatly annoyed our hosts. We had breakfast booked for 8am, but as we woke at 7:45 we decided to skip it and grab something later. Unfortunately our no-show in the dining…

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Japan, May 2014: Day Eleven

You know that face you make when you’ve been standing next to a train for 3 minutes and just as you watch it leave you realise you were supposed to be on it? Well we were sporting that exact expression of confused despair as the Hikari 464 pulled out of Shin-Osaka.“I think we were supposed to be on that!” Is something I’d rather never have to say again. We had…

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Japan, May 2014: Day Ten

After yesterday’s excitement of Universal Studios, we deserved a day of rest and relaxation. Deciding on a leisurely trip to the local castle, we headed off on the subway for Osaka station. Once at Osaka we planned to swap lines and make a beeline for the station closest to the castle entrance; however, I couldn’t help popping my head above ground like a startled meerkat to see exactly what we…

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Japan, May 2014: Day Nine

Well, we do like a good theme park and as we made the effort to travel to Osaka, it wouldn’t have been right to leave without sampling Universal Studios Japan (USJ). Emma has been to the Universal in Florida and so this had potential to be a big disappointment. In true Matt & Emma fashion, no research had gone into USJ. We’d attempted to buy tickets in Lawsons (a local…

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Japan, May 2014: Day Eight

Sitting with a beer from the vending machine downstairs, it’s time to reflect on what may be our favourite city in Japan. Osaka has all the liveliness of parts of Tokyo, but within a much more focused area. The architecture is wild, the people are super friendly and the food has been amazing. We’ve only spent 36hrs here, yet I’d happily move in. Without a plan and with the threat…

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Japan, May 2014: Day Seven

Stay in a capsule hotel they said… It’ll be fun they said… No. Capsule hotels are hot, smelly and awful if you are carrying anything bigger than a purse. Don’t get me wrong, the capsule itself was clean, comfortable and surprisingly spacious – even for a fat westerner cuddled up against his suitcase. It was just the lack of air con, the overpowering smell of feet and the noise of…

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Japan, May 2014: Day Six

Our final day in Sapporo started with a croissant donut in Mister Donut. Sitting watching the traffic go by, despite the miserable weather, we were determined to make it a memorable 24hrs. The first stop was a mall situated on our street. The malls are completely different to those in the UK. Rather than being a corporate template of all the usual high street shops, these are more like independent…

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Japan, May 2014: Day Five

Exhausted after yesterday’s adventures, we decided to take a day out from sightseeing and do something less touristy. Coincidentally the local baseball team have a series of home games this weekend; so with map of the city in hand, we set about finding the stadium. Because I’m generally organised when it comes to vacation planning, our hotel falls between the city’s two subway lines and one leads directly to the…

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Japan, May 2014: Day Four

I’m not even sure what day it is, but I do know yesterday was crazy. Our day started at 4:30am as we had to be up early to catch the first subway train of the morning to Tokyo Station on the opposite side of the city. It was time to put our JR Pass to proper use and catch the Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori at the very north of the main…

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