The next morning, Caroline and I wanted to make sure we got to this place in Echizen called the Papyrus House around 9 AM. This particular facility is pretty cool because it offers a private workshop for visitors to create their own original Japanese paper. The adjacent souvenir shop "Washidokoro Echizen" sells a wide selection of Japanese paper items, such as colorful sheets of paper. Most of the products sold are made by local papermakers. The process took about 20 minutes all in all, and it's really neat that they take you through the steps so that you don't mess up or anything. We got here at a great time because apparently it's a tourist hotspot for anyone that's passing by. I think two tour buses came through just as we were finishing up. A huge group of school kids were also in attendance, which I thought was a great idea to get them involved in a more dynamic DIY arts and crafts project like this.
How do you like what I did?
There was a breakfast spot called the Asuwayama Deck with an incredible view that was pretty isolated and about 30 minutes away from our original starting point. This is definitely one of the most scenic restaurants that you'll ever visit if you're in the Fukui area. If you do your research, you'll see that you'll have to travel quite a distance to get here. Once you find it, I guarantee you that it'll be worth it. The most notable things to take away from here is the view. Heading up, you'll pass a giant Torii gate surrounded by amazing trees. The pathway to get to this cafe alone makes for an amazing hike. The venue itself is pretty spectacular. I cannot describe it, but every layer to this cafe feels like you're being transported to another country.
The setting is a blend of modern Japanese and Moroccan styles fused into one. Their breakfast menu is limited to just pastries and drinks, but what they are known for are their pancakes. I would suggest that you order some of their very unique pancakes. I ordered the pickled apple and whipped cream, and I kid you not... it was mind-blowing. Everything from the taste to the presentation was simply dazzling. You simply cannot get any better than this if you're looking for a nice breakfast and a scenic view.
Around noon, I said my goodbyes to Caroline and caught my train to Maibara just in the nick of time. While on the train, I took the time to admire the rural areas we passed through and wondered what they had to offer. Certain prefectures in Japan do a great job spacing out the city life with the residential life, so you get your piece of mind at home with the option to venture out into the metropolitan areas and have fun out there.
It's not a complete farming town in the sense of the Midwest or upstate California where there's absolutely nothing to do, so I've learned to appreciate not just the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and Osaka... but also the calmer areas that aren't so crazy.
Once I made it back to Tokyo, I had to get my last shopping fix before I left for home. Once I got to Shinagawa Station, I hopped the nearest JR line to Harajuku to go to my favorite boutique, Laforet. I'm a sucker for certain Japanese brands, and this building has it all. Laforet carries a lot of different and unique fashion styles, and it's an experience in itself just browsing this mall.
If you are looking for something unique this is definitely the place to go!
The guys wanted to meet up somewhere in the heart of the city, so I recommended meeting at the Hachiko statue in Shibuya. This area is probably the only area I remember by heart because of the scramble. It's been three years since I've returned, but since then, I've been a fan.
It's just a place you really can't get enough of. Whether it's movies, tv, or music videos... if you're in Tokyo and you don't visit this area, then you can't really say you've been to Japan. We managed to find an amazing yakitori place not too far away from the scramble that was really affordable. Throw in some really cheap and delicious cocktails and you could pretty much say it was our little Thanksgiving away from home.
Sadly, this entry marks the last day of my two week Japan trip. I absolutely had a blast while I've been here and it was truly memorable hanging out with friends that I haven't seen in a while.