Japan is a country I have wanted to visit for a long time, with incredible mountain scenery, one of the world’s most chaotic & quirky cities (Tokyo), a long history of culture & tradition, and of course weird and wonderful food it was about time it came to the top of my bucket list so Hiccup & I jetted off to see what all the fuss is about & we weren’t disappointed.
Our first stop Tokyo is weird, wonderful, and at times completely whacky – but that’s what makes it such an amazing place to visit. We had 3 nights here staying in Shinjuku which amongst other things is famous for the busiest railway station in the world (3.6 million passengers EVERY day). We had to visit Shinjuku station hours after arriving and it was a baptism of fire for even an experienced traveler like me but after the initial shock to the system you soon understand why traffic is so light in Tokyo – the public transport is fast, efficient, very clean, inexpensive and so easy to use.
While in Tokyo we took in the Skytree – the second tallest building in the world (on a clear day you can see Mount Fuji), Studio Ghibli Museum, the Mieja Shrine, Goyan Gardens, Asakusa, Harajuku and many other districts who’s names I can’t pronounce. The peak of the chaos and craziness of Tokyo was our night time excursion to the Robot restaurant show (look it up on YouTube!)
Following three incredible days, we took the Bullet train to visit Hakone, a small village on Lake Ashi, which offers great views of Mt. Fuji. We stayed in a 16th Century Inn where the beds were futons on reed matting floor & once through the door everyone wore Kimonos and slippers. Our room overlooked a mountain river and water from nearby hot springs was piped directly in to our own Onsen (big stone bath thing). The food here was very traditional & a bit of a challenge but the waistline appreciated the break!
After two days R&R it was back on the Bullet train to Kyoto I loved walking through the 16th century wooden buildings which bring alive the history, culture and traditions that live on in Japan to this day. Our guide took us to Gion, Kyoto’s most renowned Geisha district then on to the famous Fushimi Inari Taira – a shrine of thousands of red torii gates. There are over 1200 temples in Kyoto so it’s not easy to decide which ones to visit but the Silver Temple was stunning – think romantic images of ancient Japan with carp ponds and beautifully manicured Bonsai trees and gardens!