I would like to take a moment to totally pimp JapaneseGuestHouses.com, through whom Sean and I booked our ryokans for our honeymoon back in March of 2003. I wrote to them today and asked if they had any records of our reservations, so I could piece together the actual dates of our honeymoon, and they very kindly forwarded me our original reservation emails! With those and with the pictures I had on PhotoWorks (which, by the way, I was able to recover in full size today and upload to smugmug), I have been able to reconstruct our itinerary as follows:
March 6: Arrived in Japan, checked in at Narita U-City Hotel (not booked through JapaneseGuestHouses)
March 7: Got up early and explored Narita City; checked out of Narita U-City Hotel and took a train into Tokyo; hopped a shinkansen to Kyoto; checked into Heianbo Ryokan.
March 8: I woke up before Sean did and headed out to the lobby. A man was coming in from outside and I saw that it was snowing. “Yuki desu ka?” I said to the man. “Taihen!” We had a delicious breakfast in the ryokan, which prides itself on its tofu. Then we headed to Kyoto Station to get started on exploring Kyoto. First we took the bus to a shrine/temple complex and wandered from there to other shrine/temple complexes–we were really looking for Kiyomizu-dera, and we actually did get to the complex, but we never found the main building! It snowed while we were out there, which I thought was awesome and Sean hated. That afternoon we spent a lot of time trying and failing to find Gion, until we finally stumbled upon it. We also walked past Minamiza Theater twice before we realized where it was. Once we did find it, we reserved seats for the next day’s production of “Tale of Genji”, which I was hoping would be in a traditional theatrical style. In the evening I took a bath and then sat in the lobby in my yukata writing in my journal.
March 9: Explored Kyoto some more…I think this is the day we rode the bus around until it came to the end of the line and the driver yelled at us to get off. That afternoon we attended “Tale of Genji”, which lasted for hours and hours and was in a fairly Western theatrical style. There were two intermissions. During the first one we went to a cafe in the building and had keiki and soda. Ginger ale is green! It was 11 at night when we got out of there, so we stopped at McDonald’s (I think) for dinner and headed back to the ryokan.
March 10: Took a day trip from Kyoto to Nara to see the Daibutsu (Great Buddha). It took us awhile of wandering back alleys to find the place. After we saw the buddha, I bought a good luck charm for gaining knowledge, which I tied to my backpack. Sean bought a cute little purple cat sitting on a cushion that he kept next to his computer. Those souvenirs are unfortunately gone, so the next time we go to Nara we’ll have to replace them. We left Todaiji and headed out and around it, only to get lost again. We asked some security guards for help and they called someone to drive us to the train station.
March 11: Left Kyoto and headed west, stopping in Himeji to explore the castle on our way to Hiroshima and Miyajima. Sean enjoyed reading all the history plaques, but did not enjoy having to take his shoes off at every castle building. We rode the ferry from Hiroshima to Miyajima and checked into Momijiso Ryokan that night, where we enjoyed a huge traditional Japanese feast (and satellite TV!).
March 12: Got up to a large Western style breakfast with huge pieces of toast. Walked down the hill, through the woods and away from the ryokan to the beach to catch a ferry to Hiroshima. Explored Hiroshima’s Peace Park and museum. Went through a shopping street on our way back to the ryokan. Stopped and ate at Cafe de Crie (soup and sandwiches) because we were starving. It was dark by the time we made it back to Miyajima–we were late, so we called the ryokan and someone picked us up in a van. On the way we stopped by the huge torii gates, all lit up beautifully in the dark, and like an idiot I didn’t get out to take a picture! :P Back at Momijiso, we had trouble eating the huge delicious meal prepared for us due to having eaten so recently :( Sean managed a few bites; I forced most of mine down :> It was really cold that night, so the Mama-san turned on the heating pad under our futons.
March 13: Got up to another huge delicious breakfast and then checked out of Momijiso. I really didn’t want to leave. I took pictures of the island from the ferry as we sailed away. Once we got back to the train station, we hopped the shinkansen back to Tokyo. We arrived that evening. Our taxi driver had trouble finding Yamanaka Ryokan, and when we finally got there our room was tiny and there were hardly any luxuries. I was so depressed! We got hungry at one point and headed off down the street to see if we could find food. We came across a Chinese place whose name ended with -hanten. I took a picture (which of course no longer exists) of the menu.
March 14: Explored Tokyo. We had no idea what to do so we went to Tokyo Station by subway and headed for the Imperial Palace. It was closed! We explored the area around the palace, looking at ducks and koi, and found a big statue of a general on a horse. Then we spotted Tokyo Tower in the distance, so we decided to walk there. After enjoying the view from both levels of the tower, we had lunch in the basement and then walked around a little more before finding a train station. At this point we went to Akihabara, which didn’t impress Sean at all (though to be fair we didn’t see much of the cool stuff). I was extraordinarily tired by the time we were through. We stopped at KFC for dinner but I couldn’t even eat. My feet were killing me. We went back to the ryokan and I fell unhappily into my futon.
March 15: I had planned for us to go to Nikko on this day, but we were both way too tired. We slept in and watched Japanese TV for a long time (including some weird TV movie about some parents who killed their son because he was violent, then met his girlfriend in prison and repented for their actions). When we finally ventured out, all we did was check out Ueno, have lunch at McDonald’s (where I had my very first ever Big Mac) and go to an Internet cafe. Dinner was a seafood pizza with white sauce, which was delicious.
March 16: We spent the morning in Ueno Park and the Tokyo National Museum, then hung out in the room and in the Internet cafe. Had Indian food (curry) for dinner, which I’ve decided has to be my tradition on the last night in Japan :)
March 17: Checked out of Yamanaka, rode trains to Narita Airport, and left Japan.
And that’s it, to the best of my memory. If I remember more, I’ll edit this post ;>