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I lived in Japan for 2 amazing years, and the memories I left with will never be equalled. From cherry blossoms and geisha in Kyoto, to robots and dolphins in Tokyo, monkeys and snow in Nagano, and blacksmithing in Gifu – it’s been a wild ride. And, like any good millennial, I tracked all of my adventures on Instagram. So, here are my favourite pictures and moments of Instagram Japan.

Kiyomizu Temple


This was one of the first pictures I uploaded to the GeekGirlGoes Instagram page, and I still love it! I lived so close to this temple for my 2 years in Japan, and didn’t visit it until a few months before I left. The beautiful colours of the temple buildings contrasted so well with the bright blue sky. I’m holding up my entrance ticket in this picture too. I kept that, and pasted it into my travel journal to remember this magical place.

Kamogawa River


This river was where I spent so many days and nights, drinking Asahi beer and enjoying the sunshine. Right in the heart of Kyoto, this river is the most popular drinking spot amongst the cities young crowd. Every day during summer, you will see the banks lined with students, couples, and tourists. The water is so clear, you can see the fish, turtles and other creatures frolicking. Every week, my brother and I would sit and watch the sunset, while enjoying some ice cold beers from the nearest convenience store.

Okunoshima (Rabbit) Island


This was one of my favourite day trips I took in Japan. Okunoshima, or ‘Rabbit Island’, is located in the Seto Inland Sea. I took trains and ferries to get there – and spent the whole day walking and exploring. Having the chance to get so close to the adorable little bunnies as well was an added bonus! The island was so beautiful, I could have stayed another day!

Koyasan


When I got the chance to enjoy an overnight stay at a Buddhist temple – I had no idea just how relaxing it would be! I stayed at Okunoin on Koyasan, and had a great time exploring all the temples in this holy place. This picture is of me walking through Daimon – the large gate that marks the entrance to the mountain. I took this using self timer, and trust me when I say, it took a while to get it right! I was the only person here on the day (probably because of the weather). So, at least nobody was witness to my photo-shoot fails!

Miyakejima


The most incredible experience of my life (so far), was swimming with dolphins! I was so happy to do this out in the wild, rather than in a zoo. We just jumped off our boat, and dived around with them. At one point, I nearly jumped right on top of one! Despite being sea sick on the boat – this day will never be topped!

Snow Monkeys


I remember feeling just like David Attenborough when I saw the snow monkeys. It was in Jigokudani in Nagano. The monkeys here like to relax in the natural hot springs, and they don’t care about humans! You could get so close, and they didn’t bat an eyelid – they were so chilled! This was also my first time staying in a traditional Japanese Inn. The whole trip was just amazing – somewhere I would definitely go back to!

Cherry Blossoms


Japan is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms – and I’m not surprised! Hanami (or flower viewing) parties are so much fun! Everyone spreads out in parks, along the river, or anywhere else there are flowers! You have snacks, drinks, and good times! Sometimes the Japanese work hanami parties can be a bit too formal for my liking; but get some of us foreigners together, and we know how to have a good time!

Miyajima


Another famous spot in Japan is the floating tori gate in Miyajima. I actually went at low tide, which I found simply magical! You could actually walk up to the gate, and touch it! The island also has a number of wild deer on it, just like Nara. I saw one try and eat a man’s map that was sticking out of his back pocket!

Ice Hotel


When we visited the northern island of Hokkaido for my birthday in February, we missed the famous snow festival. But, what we didn’t miss, was the chance to see a bar and hotel made completely from ice! We had such an awesome time drinking cocktails out of ice glasses, and riding the snow banana boat – the perfect day!

Tanabata Festival


There are festivals every week in some part of Japan – but one of my favourites was the Kyoto Tanabta Festival. This is a festival all about stars, and granting wishes. It happens every year in August, and they light up the Kamogawa river with thousands of fairy light, lanterns and projections. It so beautiful to walk along at night time, and tie your wish to one of the trees!

Sumo Wrestling!


Yep. I got to wrestle a real sumo. And yes, I won. I know. I’m awesome. Do I need to say anything more about this one? Didn’t think so…

Sayonara!


And now, the end is near…Well, actually, it was a month or so ago. This is my favourite snap from my goodbye party, in my favourite karaoke bar. I didn’t notice until I was looking through all the pictures, that I was actually the only girl!! I had so many nights in this bar (pretty much once a week for 2 years!), so it was only right that it be the location of my goodbye celebrations. After 2 free bottles of champagne, lots of singing, and a few beers, I called it night. Goodbye Japan! You were an amazing chapter in my life, and though I’m sad you’re gone, I must move on…

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

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Like any good millennial, I have documented my life via Instagram snaps, filters, and hashtags. So, here is my last 2 years living in Japan- through the eyes of my Instagram lens