After some internet difficulties in Kyoto – there always seems to be some internet issue doesn’t there? – I’m back! Thanks to everyone who has been following this blog, it’s been a lot of fun writing it and sharing the wonderful things I am experiencing.

When I last left you, I was departing Shizuoka on a full stomach to Kyoto. After I checked in to my hostel, I took a train to the sleepy town of Yamazaki, where I went on a tour of Suntory’s Yamazaki Brewery, makers of one of the world’s best whiskeys. For those not familiar with the brand, it was the whiskey that Bill Murray’s character promoted in Lost in Translation.

The brewery has over 7,000 bottles on whiskey on display and more than a few barrels.
Whiskey barrels
Plus there’s a tasting after the tour of some of the brewery’s finer brands – all for free. I highly recommend it for whiskey fans.

But I did more than just drinking in Kyoto, I took in the cultural sights too. Like the Golden Pavillion . . .
Golden Pavillion

The crowds there were crazy so I had to escape and find serenity. I ventured over to Nara, sight of Todai-ji Temple, which houses an enormous Buddha statue. But on the walk over there are tons of tame deer, who flock to you if you have food in hand. This lady had no idea what she was getting into!
Deer in Nara Park

After that whirlwind tour of Kyoto, I arrived in Osaka today. It was straight to the Kaiyukan Aquarium, which is one of the largest in the world. There’s sea otters, seals, manta rays, even two whale sharks that you see throughout the aquarium. Check out these guys – eat your heart out Kahala Mandarin!

I also took a ride on one of the world’s largest ferris wheels – this is the breathtaking view from the top!
Ferris wheel view

Keep checking back for more updates, you won’t regret it!


  1. Hello Joe. My name is Karen Hashimoto, my aunt is Toyoko Norisue, your distant relative in Hiroshima. My cousins in Hawaii recently sent me this link with your travel blog and I thought I’d reach out to you. Toyoko’s brother, my father, passed away in September 2012 and I am travelling to Hiroshima this week, April 1, to inter his ashes and visit with Aunt Toyoko.
    I would like to be able to share your article and memories of your visit with the family – could you email me?
    I look forward to hearing from you.


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