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The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan
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Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan

Sonia, our E-Commerce Coordinator, some time ago visited Japan with her boyfriend and two friends. They have been to Tokyo and Kyoto during their three-week trip.
We asked her a few questions about her trip and for some recommendations for a Japan visit. 

Was it your first time here?

Yes. I’ve always wanted to visit Japan but just didn’t have a chance to do so before. It was perfect timing now because our friends also wanted to go, so we could have more company. 

What brought you to Japan? 

I have always been fascinated by this culture.

I have read a few Japanese authors - Haruki Murakami, Osamu Dazai and Yukio Mishima. In their books, the cities always took a lot of focus. I wanted to discover these places myself and feel the same atmosphere.

I have also been watching different anime and reading manga, I love Japanese food, snacks and matcha, and I have always been interested in Japanese skincare as well - I was incredibly excited to finally purchase the products that cannot be purchased in Europe.

Also, one of my favourite films is Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. So a lot of reasons why I wanted to visit Japan.

Can you share your travel itinerary?

Whenever you are in Japan you have to go to Sentō - the public bathhouse. You can find it almost anywhere, it is very cheap to enter (¥500 - around 25 DKK), with no time limits, and you have various bathtubs to choose from, together with different types of sauna. We have been to a few both in Tokyo and Kyoto - I truly miss Sentō!

When in Kyoto you should visit Kinkaku-ji - the Golden Pavilion. It is a Zen Buddhist temple from 1397, which is covered in gold leaf. It is also a main focus of Yukio Mishima's novel. To see it in real life is breathtaking.

I would also really recommend going to Uji - a small town on the outskirts of Kyoto, most famous for green tea and matcha. There you can find the oldest tea shop in Japan, where you can make your matcha - which we did.

If you know any of the cute Japanese characters I would also recommend going to a Sanrio Characters store in Tokyo and a Miffy Sakura bakery in Kyoto - they’re very popular there and everything’s so cute that it’s hard not to leave without a purchase.

The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan
The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan
The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan
The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan

What was your biggest cultural surprise?

One of the surprises was that not a lot of locals speak English, even in tourist spots, so we always needed Google Translate with us.

Also, I knew that Tokyo was going to be huge but it seemed a lot bigger than New York and much denser than Sydney - so it was a bit shocking to me. We sometimes travelled for almost two hours to get from one area to the other, while both of them felt central.

Metro only works until around midnight and then again from 4 am, so we always had to be cautious and calculate at what time we should leave to make it back to our hotel. Once we were at a party and wanted to leave around 2 am, so then we had to wait for the metro to run again. Meanwhile, some of the most popular skincare stores were open 24/7.

Favourite meal?

I liked anything we ate during this trip. It wasn’t hard to find good food in almost any area in both of the cities.

But I have to admit that my favourites were 7-Eleven snacks. Especially after a long day of walking, going back to the hotel and grabbing onigiri, a sandwich or some warm snacks from the convenience store.

My other favourite was a Japanese-style curry rice from the one and only Coco Ichibanya. I have never tried it before and I loved it immediately. I also had it as my last meal in Japan.

The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan
The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan
The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan
The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan

Where did you go for the best matcha?

The best matcha I got was in Kyoto in the Arashiyama district. There, near the famous bamboo forest and next to Ōi River, we randomly found a small mochi shop - Horando, Togetsukyo Honten where they had iced matcha. It was served with hand-made mochi inside and it tasted amazing.

How was the Karaoke experience?

It was great - we went to Karaoke Kan Shibuya, the same one where they filmed Lost in Translation. Unfortunately, the place was renovated so it looked different than in the movie and we got a smaller room, but it was so much fun! We were there with my friend’s friends from Japan so we had a more local experience. We were singing and having some drinks for two hours straight and I could still do more.

The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan
The PRC Stories: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan