December 14-28, 2018
After a few flights from Pittsburgh to Toronto to Haneda to Fukuoka, we were greeted at the airport with the most beautiful words I'd heard in hours: "Welcome to Japan! There are no open container laws". Elias handed us a few cans of Chūhai and cups of ice. We had a 45 minute drive to Sasebo, no concept of time, and this was a great segue.
At first, it seemed like the jet lag would be no problem... until days two and three, when I could barely stay awake past 1900 and was alert and functioning at 0400. Elias and Raquel were first-class hosts, which helped greatly both in getting our bodies on time and navigating Japan.
First meal: Sushi-go-round at Sushiro in Sasebo. We did some damage. It was everything I'd hoped it would be.
First excursion: BIOPARK! A magical place where you can interact - and pet! - many of the animals. 
We were accosted by squirrel monkeys, fed some kangaroos and hippos, 
and snuggled up with my some of my personal favorite ROUS, capybaras :-)
Next up: Soli Slope at Saikaibashi Park: a massive, turf-laden hillside that you can ride down on a little plastic sled.
Safe to say we all reverted to our ten-year-old selves, sledding down and running back up to go again,
stopping a few times to enjoy the incredible view of the bay. Also, tiny ziplines.
On 17 Dec, we started our way north to Kyoto. A misinterpretation of which trains the JR Rail Pass would
allow us to take cost us some time in the train station (spoiler alert: not the train from Fukuoka to Kyoto),
but all ended well and we had lunch at a Hello Kitty diner in the train station.
Bullet trains are an amazing form of travel.
Night one in Kyoto: we checked in to our very traditional, Japanese-style apartment, and trekked up to through the Shimagyo Ward to check out some beautiful shrines – including the Yasaka Shrine – and enjoy the sunset over Kyoto.
18 Dec 2018
Fushimi Inari Taisha 
Kyoto Imperial Palace
+ miscellaneous photos from around Kyoto, including a stop in a hedgehog café.
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