I came back from Japan exactly a week ago. I was visiting a friend there for 5 days. For me it was my first time ever traveling completely alone. Also it was my first time traveling outside of Europe (and first time in Japan, naturally).
My japanese friend and I have known each other for 10 years now. We found each other from a website for international penpals and begun writing snailmail letters to each other when we were about 15 years old. Now a decade later we still write snailmail letters, aswell as chat on facebook and KakaoTalk. We had seen each other only once before now – when she came to visit me in Finland a few years ago. It’s amazing how close you can be (and get along so well) even when not seeing each other face-to-face very often.
We visited lot of beautiful japanese temples in Kyoto and Nara. We also fed the deer in Nara (there’s these little stands that sell ‘deer cookies’ which you can then feed to the deer). The deer were so nice & sweet. Though when they found out you have food for them.. they might nibble on your clothes and fingers a bit.
I also got the opportunity to have a “Maiko experience”. Which means that people who actually knew what they were doing, put on the white Maiko make-up & wig for me, aswell as dressed me in the traditional kimono. There’s ton of fabric and padding that you have to put on – and it’s all tightened with strings (felt like wearing a corset, sort of difficult to breathe). Beauty is pain ;)! It took a long time to get ready and also long time to take off the make-up once finished. You can’t wash it off with water but you have to use baby oil.
We also visited the Universal Studios in Osaka. And, everyday, had the most delicious meals & treats. For me this trip was the perfect combination of “tourist vacation” and “just hanging out with friends”. The sights were amazing but I also really enjoyed just hanging out with my friend and spending time in shopping malls – wandering around and stopping by for an ice cream or donut every now and then.
Japan felt like home. I will definately visit again!