25 Adventures from Around the World That Will Make You Want to Travel

As we near our big departure (exactly two weeks from today!), we’re reflecting quite a bit on some of our past adventures.  We’ve come a long way (figuratively and literally), and we can’t wait to see where we end up at the end of all this (will there be an end?).  We’re crazy busy tying up final loose ends, so this week’s post will be short, but we wanted to share with you some of our favorite adventures from around the world… and perhaps tempt you to travel as well!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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World Highlights: Top 5 Sounds of Japan

In Tokyo, the sounds of the city can be intense. With a metropolitan area of around 40 million, you can expect to hear plenty of interesting sounds as you are exploring. Some are completely in your face like advertisements, while others are more pleasing. Both of these have their place in our Top 5 Favorite Sounds in Japan.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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World Highlights: Our Favorite Japanese Meal

We’re toning back a bit on our blogging, as we’re now in crunch time before we leave for our big trip!  Therefore, enjoy full posts every other week, with quick travel highlights like these in the alternates.  Let us know what you think!  We’d love to know what your favorites are!


© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

We had so much incredible food in Japan; how could we pick just one favorite?  While we loved the comforting ramen and drooled over the extravagant ryokan breakfast, one restaurant rose to the top, and it still makes my stomach grumble at the thought of it.

World Highlights: Our Favorite Japanese Meal | BIG tiny World Travel | We only travel to eat! Japan had some of best food we've had, but one restaurant rose above the rest! Check out our favorite from our visit. | #travel #travelcouple #internationalfood #traveltoeat #travelfood

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A Taste of Japan: Old Meets New

I loved the mix of old and new in Japan!

LotsaSmiles Photography

Japan is full of some of the most amazing culture and fascinating history.  With a civilization many centuries old, Japan has had a lot of time to evolve.  However, they staunchly retain the rich past that defines their architecture, shrines, attitudes, and traditions.  They respect each other and have an incredible work ethic.  They impress the world every year with their technology, yet they loyally maintain structures that have been in existence for over 1300 years.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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A Taste of Japan: Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

One of our top spots on our photography list, this famous bamboo grove is magnificent, beautiful, and humbling. Be sure to stop by if you’re in the area… or put yourself into the area so you can stop by!

LotsaSmiles Photography

A visit to Kyoto isn’t complete without a trip through the stunning bamboo grove of Arashiyama.  There is nothing more humbling than acres of majestic trees towering above your head, cutting thousands of completely vertical lines 115 feet into the sky.

Bamboo has been revered for its durability for centuries, and it grows incredibly fast, making it a popular renewable resource; the wood is used in thousands of applications.  It is particularly important to the Japanese, who view it as a symbol of prosperity and see its simplicity as representing purity.  Bamboo is unique in its elegance, which is why stalks frequent many zen-hopeful desks, but they are seldom seen in such magnificence.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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A Taste of Japan: Nighttime Shrines

If you find shrines are too busy during the day, try them by night! Most are open late, and this could afford you a unique take from the typical, touristy experience. Fushimi Inari was one of our favorites, and it was top on my to-photograph list.

LotsaSmiles Photography

I only have a few more of these highlights before I get into the real meat of our trip.  This week has understandably been busy catching up from our vacation and preparing for another over Thanksgiving.  I know you’re anxious for the full daily accounts, but I’m afraid I’ll have to tease you for just a short while longer…

When you visit Japan, unless you try explicitly not to, you’re bound to wind up at a few shrines.  Fortunately, that’s ok, as every one is unique in their own way.  If you really want to mix it up, try visiting them after dark.  Check to make sure they’re accessible after hours, but if they are, this can provide a great opportunity to beat a lot of the crowds at some of the more popular destinations.

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A Taste of Japan: Shrines

It’s hard to visit Japan without visiting at least a few shrines, but they’re all so different and uniquely beautiful that it’s also hard to get bored doing so!

LotsaSmiles Photography

It’s difficult to visit Japan without tripping over at least a dozen shrines and temples.  While most of the Japanese population wouldn’t consider themselves particularly religious, many practice the standard rituals of visiting shrines, saying a prayer, and drawing fortunes.  The young go hoping for favorable test scores or new love; others simply wish for good luck and good health.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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A Taste of Japan: The Philosopher’s Walk

A trip down the peaceful Philosopher’s Walk is beautiful any time of the year. Next time, I’d love to see it blushing with the spring sakura, but it was stunning burning with autumn’s glow.

LotsaSmiles Photography

If you find yourself in Kyoto, set aside a morning for the Philosopher’s Walk.  Best un- (or lowly-) populated, early morning will afford you a quiet path upon which to calmly take in the song of the water and contemplate life’s mysteries.  The entire path is a little over a mile and is lined with shops, street vendors, restaurants, and temples.  Decorated with hundreds of sakura trees, this area is popular during cherry blossom season and is a great spot for fall color.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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A Taste of Japan: Street Food

Sometimes we say we travel just to eat. After all, food is one of the best ways to experience a new place. We never tire of all the culinary variety the world has to offer!

LotsaSmiles Photography

Some of the best meals we had in Japan came from small street vendors.  We’re no strangers to personal proprietors specializing in a single dish (or few) from a small booth on a street corner; Portland’s food cart culture is renowned.  While we feared these establishments would be less adept at English, they actually proved easier when it came to ordering.  With only a few items offered – most physically present behind a glass pane – it was a simple matter of pointing and holding up two fingers.  And very like the much-loved, tiny food vendors at home, their business only survives if they’re really good (as patrons frequently have plenty of alternate options).

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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A Taste of Japan: The Robot Restaurant (Shinjuku)

This was a fun display of Japanese ingenuity. They truly are masters of space management!

LotsaSmiles Photography

For a truly wild spectacle, check out the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku (follow the giant light signs; it’s hard to miss).  The name is a slight misnomer, as this is primarily a show, with snacks, sushi bento boxes, and drinks available for separate purchase.  This is certainly geared toward tourists, with everything predominantly in English.  They pack about 200 people into a tight room, and proceed to parade wifi-controlled floats and extravagant illuminated robots.  Cute Japanese girls dance and fill the room with thunder on the taiko.  The animatronics reach out and right over the audience; it’s amazing how they can fit these things in such a small room.  Music, laser battles, lights, dancing, robots!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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