hakone & osaka.
after our time in tokyo, we did a day each in hakone and osaka. with travel, we really didn't really get to have a full day in either city, but we still made the best of it!
Open Air Museum
Lake Ashi & Surrounding
we continued on the rest of the hakone loop after a couple hours at the open air museum. on a clear day, you can see mt. fuji, but we were not so lucky. the views of lake ashi at sunset, from both a gondola and a pirate ship more than made up for it though.
we stayed the night at a fancy ryokan, kitanokze saryou. it was the most expensive overnight stay on this japan trip, but it was totally worth it! it included a kaiseki dinner, a private outdoor onsen (hot spring) surrounded by bamboo, and a huge breakfast. getting to soak in a natural hot spring before bed, and first thing in the morning, is pretty glorious.
being further south, osaka had way more cherry blossoms in bloom than we saw during our first leg in tokyo. the tree-lined rivers and parks were breathtaking.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
we didn't get into osaka until mid-afternoon, so we really didn't have much time there. luckily, the one place i really wanted to go - the aquarium - was open til 8pm. it's a really impressive place, and seeing whale sharks here kinda sorta made up for the fact that we didn't see any in the maldives.
after the aquarium, we wandered the tourist-y and packed dotonbori area, full of restaurants and shops and teenagers. it was super busy and packed, even on a tuesday night!
we decided to see how close we could get to osaka castle at night, assuming the grounds themselves were closed. luckily for us, the grounds were open and we got to walk right up to it, and it wasn't hot or full of tourists like it would have been during the day. i've been to osaka castle several times before, but never at night.
well, that's about it. after osaka we headed to kyoto for a few days! it was lovely, and i can't wait to share it - especially our first three-star michelin dining experience!