Almost Adulting

This month marked the release of one of my all-time favourite YouTuber’s (now author as well) first book. I know there is a stigma against YouTubers writing their own books, and some controversy around some even using ghost writers and releasing books just for additional profit, however, I was nonetheless super stoked for this particular one. ‘Almost Adulting’ is a book written by Arden Rose or formally ‘arose186’ online that centralises around themes of growing up, modern love, mental health, sex, independence and navigating adulthood. Arden is actually the only YouTuber that I’ve been an active subscriber of since I was about 15, so getting to read her first book was quite special.

Although the book is a short read, there are times when it does get a bit repetitive, particularly in the beginning of the book and toward the end wherein there is a lot of general life advice. I found the middle chapters to be the golden parts of the book because she dives into her personal experiences with more specific topics. One of my favourite chapters is when she describes her experience dealing with trichotillomania in high school and the insecurities that she overcame at that time. It was nice to learn more about the disorder as it’s not something I have much knowledge on myself.

 

The other chapter that I particularly enjoyed was when she described how she met and started dating Will, her boyfriend, and the ins and outs of maintaining a long-distance relationship. It felt like a little addition to Will’s book ‘This Modern Love’, which also deals with the role of the internet in helping to build relationships in the contemporary era.

 

I would say this book targets a younger audience, including those in their 20s or even in their late teen years. Of course, anyone of any age could read this, even those just in the beginning of their teenage years. But as an individual currently in their early 20s, I believe the book would be a more enjoyable read for those around my age because the stories and experiences Arden shares are very relatable. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it so I’d recommend it to any young individual wanting some casual life guidance or a read that feels like you’re having a late night, deep and meaningful conversation with a close friend.

Few of my favourite tunes

This past month I’ve been listening to a lot of new music and re-listening to some old ones that I’ve fallen in love with all over again. A lot of these songs I discovered through a YouTube channel called ‘Thelazylazyme,’ which I absolutely adore because they post new songs daily. The style of music that I enjoy the most i.e. alternative is what that channel mostly posts. There are tonnes of independent artists that I also like to listen to on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, which are also great sources of music discovery. So here are my recent obsessions that kind of define this moment in my life where I’m questioning myself and contemplating a lot about the world. I find all the lyrics in these songs to be relatable and poignant. It feels like I’m listening to poetry. I’ve also included links where applicable so you can support the artist by purchasing their songs.

Side note: I have a lot of Conan’s music on here, but I’ve been listening to his music the most on repeat every day so I am not ashamed.

✿ The Other Side by Conan Gray

✿ Lovesick Boys by Conan Gray

✿ I Know A Place by Conan Gray

✿ Idle Town by Conan Gray

✿ Sever by Dead Sullivan

https://deadsullivan.bandcamp.com/

✿ Pizza by Oohyo

https://itunes.apple.com/album/pizza-single/id1215505002?l=ko&ls=1&app=itunes

✿ Mind Fields by No Vacation

https://novacationgrrl.bandcamp.com/track/mind-fields

✿ Dræm Girl by No Vacation

https://novacationgrrl.bandcamp.com/track/dr-m-girl

✿ Rain by Soyou feat. Baekhyun

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/비가와-rain-single/id1205766582

✿ Hypnotised by Coldplay

http://parlopho.ne/iHypnotised

✿ In The Bathtub Of The World by Tyler Burkhart

https://tylerburkhart.bandcamp.com/album/sweet-spell

✿ Woodland by The Paper Kites

✿ Roslyn by Bon Iver feat. St. Vincent

 

Monthly Reading Challenge

 

Growing up throughout my primary school and early to mid high school years, books and literature were a big part of my life. They helped shape my world views, ignited my imagination and were a source of not just enjoyment but comfort through the rough periods of my life. However, as I got older and became completely encapsulated by the workload of my senior high school years and university, I stopped finding time to read and lost a bit of interest. I would maybe read a new book once in a blue moon in comparison to the times I used to actively go to the library and borrow so many books to read at home.

During my undergraduate years, the goal of re-finding my passion for books and reading always played at the back of my head but I never took it too seriously. I would spend a lot of time at my local bookstore and online, buying books that seemed interesting or intriguing to me, but they would just end up staying in a massive book pile or tucked away in my ever so full bookshelf. But now I’ve decided to make this a main goal for this year and because I now find it hard to concentrate on reading one book, I’ve decided to break this goal down into easy steps so I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. Although I haven’t begun this in January, I’m okay with it because this will be a continual journey that won’t just end once 2018 hits. Each month I will aim to finish at least one book and this can be done in whatever time or pace I please, so as long as the book for the month is completed by the time the next month hits. Below are the books I’ve chosen for each month:

March

Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me by Lily Collins

April

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

May

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

June

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

July

Paper Towns by John Green

August

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

September

An Abundance Of Katherines by John Green

October

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

November

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

December

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

 

21 Things I Learnt At 21

  1. It’s okay to have bad days. Not every moment in our lives is perfect.
  2. It’s also okay to just cry as much as you want. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s just human.
  3. If you become overly stressed, a day off from your regular routine will really benefit your emotional and mental wellbeing in the long run. Sometimes we just need time to re-focus ourselves.
  4. Not everyone will have a good opinion of you, like you or support you, so stop trying so hard to fit in.
  5. Always stand by your inner values; your personal happiness matters the most in the end anyway.
  6. Everyone has their own pains and struggles; you’re not alone.
  7. It’s a normal part of life to outgrow your friends.
  8. You are your own best friend. As hard as you try, not everyone is meant to be your best friend.
  9. You don’t have to rush life to be like everyone else. Take things slow and enjoy every small moment along the journey.
  10. It’s okay to say no to people. You shouldn’t have to constantly feel obligated to please people.
  11. Don’t neglect your creative side! Take some time out once in a while to re-ignite your love for your creative hobbies like drawing or playing the piano.
  12. Music is incredibly therapeutic.
  13. Forgive, but don’t forget. Learn from your past relationship mistakes and don’t hand out your trust so easily.
  14. Start exploring any new hobbies you’ve always wanted to try! There’s no better time to learn and don’t hold things off for too long.
  15. Appreciate your family, especially the ones who have your back.
  16. Just because someone is related to you by blood, does not mean they are truly family. Pseudo-family can be found anywhere and give you just as much love, support and intimacy.
  17. Travelling can be equally fun and exciting, with or without friends!
  18. Success is defined differently per individual. Academia and money simply aren’t what you desire, but doesn’t mean someone whose goals are centred around those things is illegitimate. Everyone has a different vision of what they want their life to be and that’s perfectly okay as well.
  19. Just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean you should buy it.
  20. Education isn’t just about getting good grades or getting a job out of it in the end. Learning should be a lifelong process and everything you learn at high school or university is invaluable.
  21. Life shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Always have fun no matter what!

Bondi to Coogee

Toward the end of my break, my friend and I met up to do Sydney’s famous coastal walk between Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach. It was my first time ever trying the coastal walk, and it wasn’t as long as I thought it would be. But then again, I did have great company with me to keep me distracted from the far distance. We started the day off with brunch at a cute little café at North Bondi called Speedos Café. When we arrived it was super packed and we almost went to find another place to eat at instead, but luckily there was one spare table left. It had quite an interesting array of Aussie-style breakfast foods and the best part of it was that it catered to all eaters, whether you were vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free etc.

126 Ramsgate Ave, North Bondi NSW 2026 | Speedos Café

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Soft braised pulled lamb and quinoa bowl with smoked almonds, green peas, pomegranate, roquette, labne and mint.

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Caramelised banana and chia vegan pancakes with poached berries, fig, pistachio crumble, and maple syrup.

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Starting off the coastal walk at Bondi Beach.

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The sky was quite clear and blue, however, the weather was very blustery and cold. Made it a bit difficult to climb the surrounding rocks and cliffs by the sea. I felt like I was going to be blown away by the strong winds.

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The best part about this coastal walk is that you’ll never get lost (unless you try). There are clear signs and maps directing visitors to the right path, and telling you what is up ahead. The walk from Bondi Beach to Clovelly and Bronte Beach was actually much shorter than I had expected. I always imagined the distance to be quite long, but the walk itself isn’t that hard because there are smooth paths laid out for you to walk on. I loved that there were so many smaller, less-crowded beaches along the way, so if you want to swim in a more quiet, private area then there are plenty to choose from. Unfortunately, the weather was imperfect on the day and my friend and I decided not to swim (despite really wanting to) because the conditions weren’t good, plus it was super cold.

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Half of the coastal walk path was under construction on the day that my friend and I decided to go on, so we had to take several detours along the way. One of them was even through a graveyard!

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Made it Coogee in about 2 hours. It actually didn’t feel that long because I guess I was distracted by catching up with my friend along the way, and also the beautiful views of Sydney that were spectacular. I would highly recommend anyone do this once at least (especially if you’re a fellow Sydneysider) and take a companion with you! It’s a great time to make conversation and there’s the plus side of getting some exercise done too.

Tsuruhashi

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On some of my days off from classes, my friend and I would go to Tsuruhashi, which is also known as Osaka’s Korea Town. It’s a long street that’s lined with lots of small Korean restaurants and lots of local stalls that sell traditional Korean ingredients, such as homemade kimchi. There are also a couple of Korean beauty and makeup stores too, which I definitely spent quite a bit of money at. It’s my first time going to a proper Korea Town as Sydney doesn’t exactly have one (not that I’m aware of). It was also my first time trying proper homemade kimchi, since this place is mostly run by Zainichi Koreans.

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First time having proper legit Korean barbeque with all homemade ingredients by the local Koreans.

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One of the fun things to do is try all the free kimchi samples that all the nice old ahjummas were happy to let you have.

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Sat down in a random café to try some smoothies and tea. Quite relaxing, but a tad overpriced.

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This shop had a whole bunch of snacks printed with random K-Pop groups on them.

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One of the funniest things my friend and I saw was a misspelt version of Tae Min’s name from SHINee on a random DVD disc.

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Along with the plethora of Korean restaurants and Korean beauty stores, are lots of K-Pop merchandise and music stores.

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Naengmyeon and Bibimbap on a hot summers day is a definite must.

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The most comfy curvy rails I’d ever found.

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At Mikunigaoka Station, they had these really weird anti-social chairs that faced away from each other. Found this pretty interesting because I’d never seen something like this in Japan before.

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Universal Studios Japan

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Having lived in Osaka for several months, I had not once visited Universal Studios Japan (USJ) at least once. So, decided to go here on the last few days of my time left in Japan. It was another definite must-visit for my friend and I, since we are both Potterheads. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day at a theme park on top of visiting home i.e. Hogwarts?

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First thing my friend and I found after we got our admission passes, was a merchandise store that had all the best Harry Potter goods. There was so much I wish I could’ve bought, but it was pretty expensive. My Hogwarts house is Slytherin and I definitely did not want to leave USJ without having gotten any kind of souvenir so I bought a small Slytherin towel that was under 1000¥. If only I could afford the full Slytherin uniform.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction site was so busy that you had to get a timed-entry ticket to enter the place during the day. It was extremely hot on this day and I felt bad for all the people who waited by the entrance gates. If you don’t like waiting, then you can go later at night where you can enter freely without a timed-entry ticket because it’s less busy closer to the closing hours. So my friend and I ended up going twice to the Harry Potter area so we could fully explore the place and go on all the rides.

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It felt so surreal and magical walking through Diagon Alley.

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In the waiting line for the Flight of the Hippogriff ride, you get to see a replica of Hagrid’s Hut. They even have his motorbike! This rollercoaster ride was a bit underwhelming though (not gonna lie). It was short and definitely designed for little kids.

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The main ride that most people are there for is the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 4D experience, which was super duper amazing! I wasn’t expecting much from it since it was a 4D ride so I didn’t think it’d be that impressive. But boy did it exceed my expectations! It was actually amazing and I even got slightly scared of the dementors. Didn’t think they’d be that big. During the day, the estimated waiting time to get on this ride was 3 hours and I definitely didn’t want to waste precious time waiting in line. So my friend and I went back at night about an hour before USJ closed at 9pm, and the waiting line was less than 15 minutes! So lucky!

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During the day, my friend and I actually were lucky enough to have time to go on several roller coasters and rides. Went on 6 in total including the Jurassic Park ride, the 4D Dragonball Z ride, the Hollywood Dream Backdrop roller coaster, the Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the Space Fantasy roller coaster. Out of those I would highly recommend the Hollywood Dream Backdrop roller coaster, the Space Fantasy roller coaster and of course, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Sannomiya, Kobe

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Just got off the train from Osaka. Took about two hours or more because my friend and I took the local train. Loved the local Kobe trains though because they were so unique and old-fashioned, quite different to the ones I had taken in Osaka.

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Exited the train station and immediately saw several Kobe beef restaurants. Already fallen in love with the city.

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First time ever going to Kobe! Much anticipated since last year when my friend and I decided that we would definitely need to visit Kobe at least once to try their Kobe beef. I wasn’t expecting much because I honestly had no idea what Kobe had to offer, but I really liked the layout of the city.

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A cute ‘Welcome to Kobe’ sign!

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My eye immediately caught sight of two Australian flags and a picture of Uluru on this particular building. Supposedly, there is such a thing as an Aussie bar & grill restaurant.

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Just walking around randomly, exploring the city for a bit. I seriously love how diverse this place is. There’s lots of international restaurants along with traditional Japanese ones.

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Aussie flag again.

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The first main destination of this Kobe trip was Ikuta Shrine. Ikuta Shrine is a Shinto shrine located right in the hub of the city. I decided to visit this place after some research, and discovered it is said to be one of Japan’s oldest shrines, supposedly founded in the 3rd century. How cool is that? The coolest part of this shrine though was the free entry. So it’s a definite must-see if you’re interested in visiting Kobe.

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This is the main shrine you see as you enter the premise and it’s quite vibrant in colour in comparison to other shrines that I’ve visited that have incorporated more earthy tones. There’s more to see within the area, however, I felt it was disrespectful to be taking photos inside and wanted to appreciate the serenity and calmness of the place.

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Time to finally try the holy grail of all foods. When you’re in Kobe, you might feel overwhelmed by the abundance of restaurants advertising Kobe beef, so you might find it hard to pick one good restaurant. Also, there’s a big price range between all the different restaurants. Generally, it will cost around 5000¥ to 9000¥ if you have Kobe beef at a restaurant. At a street vendor, you can try a Kobe beef skewer for about 1000¥-2000¥, which I recommend if you only just want to try the taste of it and want to save money.

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The restaurant my friend and I ate at was Steak Land, which is right outside Sannomiya Station. We heard about this restaurant through the YouTube couple Simon & Martina, who also tried their first Kobe beef steak at this restaurant. I ordered the Special Kobe Beef Steak Set and I don’t think it’s that expensive to be honest, considering I had friends who tried Kobe beef and it cost them at least 10000¥. The meat was super succulent and soft, and the chef cooked it perfectly medium-rare. It was so delicious I swear and I want to go back to have more. It was full of flavour and I highly recommend you try this at least once in your life.

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After lunch, my friend and I decided to take a detour and visit the massive Tokyu Hands that we had found on the way to Ikuta Shrine. We then spent a solid 2 hours in there of which we didn’t plan at all. Next thing you know, I walked out of the store having spent at least 20000¥ on souvenirs and stationery. I’ve visited all the main Tokyu Hands stores in both Tokyo and Osaka, and the Kobe store was by far my favourite. It had so many floors and a really big range of miscellaneous things! But because of this 2 hour detour, time passed and night fell.

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Was trying to find Nunobiki Falls, which is a waterfall located somewhere behind Shin-Kobe Station. My friend and I had no data or internet and got so lost trying to find the waterfall. It took us several hours to find it and it was more difficult considering it was dark and there were no people around. We walked up several mountain paths in the heat and even found a graveyard and a very creepy shrine place along the way. I felt like I was in some fantasy Ghibli film.

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Eventually found a random local on the mountain, who was so nice and gave us directions to the waterfall. Finally found it and it was amazing to see! Despite all the mosquito and bug bites I got, it was definitely worth all the trekking. What I found strange though was that there were absolutely no people around, despite it being a main attraction in Kobe. Maybe because it was night time and no-one wants to go hike up a mountain in the dark with no lights around.

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Cool vending machine that dispensed pancakes and waffles.

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Back to Osaka after an awesome, super fun day.

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I definitely want to come back to Kobe, not just for the beef, but to explore more of what the city offers. It has a really chill vibe that I really liked.

Shirahama, Wakayama

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Had a field trip to Wakayama and I had absolutely no clue that we would be taken to these cliffs. Coincidentally, before I had come to Japan, I spent quite some time researching and reading into some places to visit around the country, so I wrote a list of all the cities I wanted visit during my stay in Japan (if it were possible). Shirahama had caught my interest because when I was looking into the best onsen locations around the country, Shirahama was listed as the number 1 beach onsen location. So I also found out about Yoshino-Kumano National Park, which seemed like a cool place to hike or camp at. And then we got taken there! Was super happy about it.

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Yoshino-Kumano National Park was really beautiful and breathtaking. You could climb the rocks and walk around the cliff area. It was pretty safe too because the tide wasn’t as strong on this particular day, despite the slight wind and rain.

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Went to an Umeboshi Factory where we briefly learnt about Wakayama’s export and production history regarding these Japanese salt plums. Later, we got to make our own alcohol with the salted plums, which is called Umeshu. Was pretty awesome and quite simple to make. All you need is the Japanese plums, sugar and a base alcohol of your choosing. I chose to mix mine with brandy and Japanese sake.

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Checking out the souvenir store. Got lots of umeboshi flavoured snacks and souvenirs for family and friends.

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The place that I dreamed of visiting, Shirahama Beach! This was the first time I went to a beach in Japan and it wasn’t bad at all. Quite different to the local beaches I’m used to in Sydney because it wasn’t crowded and the waters were pretty still. But that was probably because it was raining and I heard it gets really crowded here during the summer. Despite that, I really loved it! They had a foot onsen right by the beach and I know there’s proper onsens further ahead that I didn’t have time to check out because I was only given 2 hours to hang around here, so there wasn’t much exploration time. It was also beginning to rain and it did get cold and windier as they day progressed. The sand, which is actually imported from Australia, was soft too. Of course, Australian sand is always awesome quality.

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Despite the overcast, rainy weather, I really enjoyed the short time we had at the beach. I definitely plan to come back here and hopefully be able to stay several days here where I get to explore more of the city.

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Kyoto

 

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Started the day having a small brekkie at a café in JR Kyoto Station consisting of French toast, salad and coffee. Then took the train to JR Inari Station. Also found a sign directing towards Fukui! I definitely plan to go back there some day.

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Made it to Fushimi Inari Shrine! It’s so incredible and you can immediately feel its beauty as soon as you walk in.

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Plan of the day was to hike up the entire mountain. I recommend taking the off beaten tracks to go up the mountain as there are lots and lots of visitors that walk through the two main paths, which is where the trail with most of the torii gates are. I found it more peaceful hiking the empty trails and you can see lots of greenery along the way. I even found a path with lots of bamboo! Something I didn’t expect to find.

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Along the way you will find lots of little fox shrines and beautiful torii gates.

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Made it to the very top! If you climb onto some rocks and tippy toe, you can catch a glimpse of a view of Kyoto (unless you’re tall and you can just stand normally). Although you will still have some trees and bush covering half the view. Before I came here, I had read online that it takes between 2-4 hours to hike up Mt. Inari, but I digress. It took my friend and I less than an hour to hike up the entire mountain!

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Now to find another road to take to go back down the mountain.

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On the way down, I also found this really beautiful Shinto shrine and a small lake amongst the residences at the base of the mountain.

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Had dinner at a nice traditional Japanese restaurant at the top of JR Kyoto Station. Nothing better than a warm bowl of ramen on a chilly day. It was an awesome day exploring Fushimi Inari Shrine and I would definitely come back to Kyoto the next time I come to Japan to explore the other parts of the city.