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Hey everyone, I’m happy to have my first ever guest blogger, my daughter Haley!  She recently took a school trip to Japan through EF Tours, and it was so awesome hearing all about her trip and seeing her travel photos that I had to share them on the blog!  Ok, take it away Haley….

Hi, Haley here, I’m so happy to share my adventures in Japan with you.  I’ve always loved Japan and wanted to visit for as long as I can remember.  Two years ago I saw a flyer at school advertising a trip to Japan, I ran home to beg my parents to please let me go and I guess you could say the rest is history!

Everything about this trip was incredible, except for maybe the earthquakes.  We had a few little earthquakes followed by a strong one towards the end of the trip, it actually caused a lot of damage to the town we were visiting.  Luckily our school group was fine though.

We started our trip in Tokyo and over the next week toured many more incredible places.

Our first stop in Tokyo was the Kaminarimon, it’s a Buddhist temple celebrating the Gods of Thunder and Wind.

Shibuya is a major commercial center in Tokyo, I’d say it’s like Times Square but on steroids.  The fun energetic vibe was amazing!

After visiting the Shibuya area we went over to the business area.  The views of Tokyo at night from the top of this building were incredible, I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

Takeshita Street is a really fun area where you can buy lots of clothes.  There are always a ton of people hanging out no matter what time of day.  Crepes are sold literally everywhere here, along with other fun restaurants nearby.  If there is any place to get lost in Japan I recommend this place.

Everywhere you look it seems like there are beautiful gardens and temples, they’re perfect for relaxing and stepping away from the chaos of the city.

Tsukiji Fish Market was lots of fun.  Inside the market they had a lot of food to choose from, and extremely tasty fried shrimp and fish.  There were also live fish and other marine life, that they would kill and prepare for you on the spot, which I found kind of creepy!

Here is a busy shopping market near a shrine.

In Japan there are animal cafes everywhere.  I saw a ton of these cat and owl cafe’s.  It’s such a fun concept, you just pay and then play with cats and owls as long as you want.

The birds here are so friendly!  They love to be fed!

This zen Buddhist temple is known at the Golden Pavaillian and was built in the 1300’s.  It’s incredibly beautiful and surrounded with gardens.

I’m telling ya Japan is a foodie’s paradise.  Here is the best ramen noodles ever, the broth was so delicious!

Top left are some awesome desserts from our hotel.  The top right photo with the heart is Omurice with curry.  It’s basically ketchup flavored rice wrapped in an egg.  The cutest dessert award goes to this strawberry bunny ice cream parfait!  Oh, the ice cream flavors in Japan are so crazy, from sweet potato to toasted seasame.  Ever seen a clear Coke? I’ve actually never had a soft drink before but I was still really excited to see a clear coke and so were my friends.

This custard pudding was just about the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten!

Hakone was my favorite town, this view was taken from the top of our hotel while I was enjoying the hot springs.  I loved the hot springs, it was an amazing experience.  A lot of people don’t want to do it because you need to be fully naked, but I recommend everyone in Japan tries it.

Here is the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, in Kyoto.  It’s a shinto shrine that covers an enormous area and leads up to a mountain peak.  I believe it’s protected by the Fox god.

Inside one of the many temples I visited.  Here people can purify themselves with this fresh spring water by cleansing your hands or swishing it in your mouth.

This is Odawara Castle, it’s very beautiful with flower gardens.

We took a boat cruise on Lake Ashi, it was absolutely gorgeous!

The animals in Japan are so friendly and used to human interaction.  In the town of Nara the deer are super friendly and have free reign to walk all over the park.  They love people, especially ones that feed them.  Also, lots of good street vendors here!

Hope you enjoyed my Japan photos, and you’re inspired to take a trip of your own.  Japan rocks and I can’t wait to visit again!

-Haley