Elvira and Gabrielle’s Adventures in Japan

Hello everyone! Gabrielle & Elvira here! We traveled a lot during our three months living in Japan and wanted to share some of our favorite trips we took to give you ideas for some weekend trips. 


We took many trips to Kyoto during our internship. There are so many beautiful temples to see in Kyoto (over 1,600!) Some of our favorites were Kiyomizu Dera, Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple, Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple, Nanzen-ji, Zennrinji, and Kenninji.

One of our favorite things to do in Kyoto was to relax and enjoy a cup of tea at the many tea houses since it is not common to find in our home countries. There are so many tea houses in Kyoto. A few of our favorites were: ◯間[MA] , 7T+, O5 (left picture), and Mandaracha (right picture).


Nara is Gabrielle’s favorite city in Japan. It is the perfect balance between not being too crowded or big of a city, but not being too small. Plus, there are deer that roam all over the town, what could be better than that?!

The Todai-ji Daibutsuden Temple is one of my favorite temples in Japan. Many temples you aren’t allowed to enter inside, so this one I was very amazed to see inside and marvel at the Big Buddha.

If you’re looking for a nice cafe to go to, we highly recommend Mia’s Cafe. They have delicious bagel breakfast sandwiches (which is very hard to find in Japan) as well as other types of bread and lattes!


Uji is very famous for tea and matcha production. As you walk around, you will see that tea is everywhere! There is matcha soba, matcha ramen, & matcha gyoza. There are many nice tea houses in Uji. Baisa Nakamura (pictured) has a mini tea processing set up and processes their tea daily. They are very familiar with Obubu interns and provide great conversations and tea!

Byodo-in Temple is a very nice temple that you can tour inside and it also has a museum. The Uji River is nice to walk across the bridge and spend some time relaxing. Uji doesn’t get as crowded as other tourist spots in Japan, so it’s nice if you want a more relaxing travel spot. 


Kobe is a port city not far from Osaka that has an interesting history that makes it different from other cities in Japan. When Japan opened to the world after being in isolation, many Americans and Europeans came to Kobe and it is very evident as you walk around.

There are American and European style houses in Kobe. The famous street to view these houses is called “Kitano Ijinkan-gai”. Along with American/European culture, there is also a Chinatown district in Kobe. I saw many Middle Eastern restaurants as well. It was very interesting to me to see so many different cultures in a Japanese city.

The Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens is a must visit if you go to Kobe. You ride a cable car to get to the top of a mountain and have amazing views of the Kobe skyline. The gardens are German style and have so many beautiful flowers. Of course, the main thing Kobe is known for is Kobe beef, which you can find plenty of restaurants serving it. Kobe is also known as being the birthplace for cinema and jazz in Japan.


On one of our last weekends we went on a road trip to Lake Biwa, which is a large freshwater lake in Shiga Prefecture, northeast of Kyoto. We visited the southern part of the lake, and enjoyed the amazing view at Sunshine Beach, while brewing our favorite teas. Even though it was the end of November, the sun was out. This was definitely one of our favorite days in Japan!

On our way back we stopped by a temple called Ishiyama-dera. We went just before closing time, so therefore it felt magical how we almost had the whole park to ourselves. We were also surprised by how beautiful the temple was with all the red and orange leaves – Autumn season in Japan is really something special!


In the beginning of November, we were able to take a break from farming life and visit Tokyo for an extended weekend. By traveling with shinkansen we arrived at Tokyo Station within a couple of hours, and started exploring the big city. We stayed near Shibuya, so there were so many things to see and do. One of the highlights of our trip was definitely eating dinner at Omoide Yokocho, where we also managed to make some new Japanese friends!

One of Elvira’s favorite places in Tokyo is Daikanyama, which is a small area located south of Shibuya. Daikanyama is a bit more peaceful compared to many other areas of Tokyo. One of the main attractions in this neighborhood is Daikanyama T-Site. Here you can enjoy a cup of matcha while looking at the endless amounts of books and magazines.

It was very different to be in such a big city like Tokyo after spending so much time in quiet Wazuka. We ate at lots of delicious restaurants, shopped, went to museums, and enjoyed some tea houses! It was very nice to explore Tokyo, but even nicer to return to the peaceful countryside!


Iga is a city located in Mie Prefecture, and is only a 40 minute drive from Wazuka. We visited Iga with some of our senpais to experience a pottery festival which takes place once a year.

Besides spending all our money on teaware, we also visited one of Japan’s ancient kilns. This climbing kiln (noborigama) was used to produce pottery – specifically Iga ware.

Iga ware does not use applied glaze. It is fired at a very high temperature causing it to crystallize in a reddish hue. Iga ware is also characterized by brown-gray scorch marks caused by log ashes, and a translucent green ash glaze from the burning wood.

Another close pottery town that you can visit after Iga is Shigaraki. Shigaraki is one of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns and one of the oldest pottery producing places in Japan. The town is also known for the ceramic tanuki figures (shown in the picture).  If you are interested in pottery you should definitely visit!


Tokoname is one of Japan’s six most important ancient kiln towns and had the largest output of ceramics of any kiln town in the Edo period. Tokoname is known for its signature “redware” (because of the soil’s high iron content) and fine Japanese teapots. So of course we also needed to give Tokoname a visit, based on our love for Japanese pottery!

Even though it was a very long drive, we made it to Tokoname and enjoyed the many small shops with local pottery. It was so cool to walk down the slender streets and see the different artists work in their workshops. 

We hope this guide gives you some ideas to enjoy your time in Japan! There are so many beautiful places to explore in Japan, so make the most out of your time while you are here! 😀

Posted in Uncategorized.

Leave a Reply