Joanne Kwong and her family in front of the Glico running man billboard in Osaka

Pearl River in Japan: Fun Times and Fun Facts, Part 2

We’re back from Japan! While we’re sad our trip is over, we’re happy to bring you even more fun times and fun facts. Check it out!

A good luck gate in Kyoto for Pearl River!

Fushimi Inari Shrine entrance

The city of Kyoto is home to over a thousand Buddhist temples. We had the chance to visit the most famous one: the Fushimi Inari shrine.

Fox guardian statue of Fushimi Inari shrine

While Fushimi refers to the area of the Kyoto the shrine is in, Inari is the god it’s dedicated to. Fox spirits are Inari’s messengers and guardians.

Beautiful orange gates of Fushimi Inari shrine

Ruling over rice, sake, agriculture, industry, prosperity, and worldly success, Inari is worshipped by merchants, manufacturers, and business owners in general. Each of these gates is donated by a business for prosperity. A small one can start at 400,00 yen while a large one can run as much as over a million. We got a tiny one.

Pearl River Mart's wish on a stick

Here's to "company fortunes prosperity"!

The aquarium in Okinawa really is amazing!

If someone tells you the aquarium in Okinawa is amazing, you should believe them! It has a whopping 26,000 animals, including glow-in-the-dark spotted jellyfish —

Spotted jellyfish in a tank at the Okinawa aquarium

— cute puffer fish —

Puffer fish in a tank at the Okinawa aquarium

— splendid garden eels —

— and manta rays and huge sharks.

Run, don’t walk, to Osaka!

Glico running man billboard at night

Photo by LibDanielleJ (CC BY-SA 4.0)

While Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan, Osaka is the Nation’s Kitchen. With an unofficial city motto of kuidaore or Eat till you drop,” it’s fitting that one of their most famous landmarks is the Glico running man billboard, an advertisement for the Glico company, famous for being the creator and maker of Pocky [link to blog post].

Dontonbori Canal in Osaka

Also famous is the Dotonbori or Doton Canal, synonymous with the surrounding food district. The canal is named for merchant Yasui Doton who in 1612 attempted to expand Umezu River into a new waterway that would link the local canal network with the Kizugawa River. However, just a few years later, he was killed in the Siege of Osaka. Later that same year, his work was completed by his cousins and the canal named in his honor.

Shopping street in Osaka

Osaka is also home to Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai. At 1.6 miles, it’s the longest shopping street in Japan. It’s also where you can get plenty of gashapon, or capsule toys.

Dispensed from vending machines, they’re similar to blind boxes with a surprise anime, manga, or video character in each capsule. The name comes from the sound of the hand-cranking action of the vending machine — gacha — and the pon! of the capsule landing in the tray.

Milo having fun with a gachapon or toy capsule

Life is like vending machine of gashapons — you never know what you’re gonna get!

Be sure to check out part one of our Japan adventures and to follow us on Instagram for even more.

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