It’s really hard to boil down two weeks in Japan into a few faves. But in the interest of brevity, here’s my top six experiences I had in the Land of the Rising Sun:
- Hanging with mini-pigs at the Mipig Café in Osaka
- Nerding out on trains at the Kyoto Railway Museum
- Having a fun soak at the Yunessun Spa in Hakone
- Art peeping at the Hakone Open Air Museum
- Temple wandering in Kyoto
- Getting my mind blown at TeamLab Planets in Tokyo
Mipig Café in Osaka
The Mipig mini-pig cafe in Osaka was just too goddamn delightful. I spent 45 minutes there just covered in little pigs and it was glorious. There are other mini-pig cafes in other parts of Japan too.
The Kyoto Railway Museum
I had no idea how cool the Kyoto Railway Museum was going to be. There were like 20 full size trains! And a two enormous train sets, one with trains that you can control! And lots of interactive exhibits about how trains work!
I guess I’m a train nerd now.
Yunessun Spa in Hakone
I spent a fun two hours at the Yunessun Spa in the mountain town of Hakone. Yunessun is family-friendly, theme park spa with lots to offer even if you aren’t a spa person like myself. I enjoyed long soaks in wine, coffee, green tea and sake-infused baths! The coffee bath was the best, particularly when one of the staff soaked me with a bucket of coffee.
I also did a relaxing sauna, rode down a water slide, and got a massage in a massage chair. The best part was reclining in these tiered baths facing a dramatic view of the local mountains. Heavenly. I felt invigorated and my skin was glowing.
Hakone Open Air Museum
The Hakone Open Air Museum is one of the coolest art museums I’ve ever been to. Fifty or more incredible sculptures and art pieces are cleverly scattered around a lush garden. So magical.
Temple Peeping in Kyoto
TeamLab Planets in Tokyo
I did teamLab Planets TOKYO at the advice of various people.
On the plus side, really gorgeous and clever interactives. It was a full sensory experience that I can compare with few other exhibits I’ve ever been to. At times I felt like I was floating, at other moments I was unsure of which way was up, or what was real and not real. I really enjoyed being barefoot the whole time!
But the people. Wow, the people. So many of them, and so so unruly, especially because we are in Japan. A group of Russians tried to push themselves ahead of me in line right as I arrived, which was an inauspicious beginning. A South Asian tour group would rush into every art space and immediately start taking hundreds of selfies and group pics without even looking or experiencing the artwork first.
People were blatantly defying the docents and their instructions, touching things they shouldn’t touch, going places they shouldn’t and just being entitled jerks.
That said, I was usually able to just wait out a particularly obnoxious group by hanging out in a particular space for a few minutes. The wonder of it would cascade over me and I was dumbstruck. Again and again.