The day began with breakfast and a visit to the scenic and historic Fushimi district, which is also one of the brewing capitals of Japan. Our tour group paid a visit to the stunning vermilion colored Fushimi Inari Shrine. You might remember the long 4km tunnel of scarlet torii gates from the film, Memoirs of a Geisha. This complex wraps around a bamboo wilderness that includes mountains, streams, and ponds, the perfect backdrop for a scenic hike. It was raining a bit heavily throughout the walk to the shrine, but since we were all provided with umbrellas and ponchos, we were able to get through the muddy and wet paths without too much trouble.
After this, we continued our tour to Uji, where we experienced a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. If you are a tea fanatic, then Uji is definitely a must visit. Uji is situated between Kyoto and Nara, two of Japan's famous historical and cultural sites.
Taihoan is a public tea house which offers visitors the opportunity to join the tea ceremony. There is also the Fukujuen Ujicha Kobo, which is a workshop that teaches hand-on activities on matcha grinding classes and concludes with a tasting session. Totally recommended if you decide to visit Uji!
From there, we continued onto Nara, the oldest capital city of Japan. The main attraction here is the Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden building in Japan. The temple also houses the largest bronze statue of Buddha at 16.3 meters high, and the surrounding park is filled with over 1,000 Sika Deer. We definitely had a blast feeding the deer and checking out the sights around the Todaiji Temple. Just watch out for their poop when you're walking around!
Once we had lunch, we drove to Osaka.
Our last visit for the day was Dodonbori, which runs parallel to the Dotonbori canal. For anyone who has never been to Osaka before, Dotonbori is a popular shopping, entertainment, and food district known for the hundreds of neon and mechanized signs that line the street, including the famous Glico Running Man and Kani Doraku Crab signs. We had about an hour to walk down the crowded street and shop for various things. If you find Pablo, do yourself a favor and buy as many cheese tarts as you can! The process of how they make those cheese cakes are simply orgasmic. I would get different flavors and see which one you like best. Some like chocolate, some like matcha, but I love the original. You won't regret it!
This was the last stop of our tour, so we had to make sure that we arranged for our Shinkansen to take us to Yokohama the next day. While we had a free night, the guys and I decided to explore Osaka for a little bit and grab dinner in the area. If you're in Osaka, try to find a good Okonomiyaki restaurant because that's what they're known for food wise. I definitely missed Osaka and I'm glad I got to explore the city a little bit before we had to leave.