AUTUMN IN THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN

November 21st 2017 ,I land in Osaka after leaving my beloved Australia.

This year has been a roller coaster of adventures, and as result a lot of money is gone!

I am about to come back home after a year in the Antipodes and Estefania and I decide to take a last adventure  before finally getting home.

Since we are running out of money we have to decide whether to do a short trip or a longer and cheaper one. We chose a 24 day cheap trip.

You are probably thinking how you do a long cheap trip in Japan. Well, we used  Couchsurfing most of the time and bought the Japan Rail Pass.

Couchsurfing Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses in a trip, and here it is where we save a lot of money.

If you do not know this app check it out right away because it combines the two best things when travelling, it allows you to meet new people and to find free accommodation.

Japan Rail Pass: I totally recommend getting this pass if you are gonna be moving across the country. Every single train ticket is very expensive, but cheaper when you get the pass. However, if your trip is gonna be just one or a couple of cities, I will say to calculate the price of the trains you are gonna take and compare with the different passes.  LINK

Osaka is the Japan's foodie capital, therefore if you are a foodie you cannot miss this city.

A big city with so many places to visit but unless Osaka is your only visit, you can see the highlights in a couple of days.

The most famous destination in Osaka is Dotombori. The lively entertainment area of Dotonbori  will surprise you with its neon lights, extravagant signage, and the enormous variety of restaurants and bars.Osaka’s obsession with food is often summed up with the expression “kuidaore” which is often interpreted to mean “eat till you drop” but actually means to spend so much on food that you fall into financial ruin! Dotonbori is said to be the best place in Osaka to experience this kuidaore style extreme love of food! 

Dotonbori

Osaka Castle is a must. It is a pretty building surrounded by beautiful scenary and inside keeps a museum with centuries of the city's history.

Osaka castle
Osaka castle
Osaka castle

Shinsekai  "New World" is a district in Osaka that was developed before the war and then neglected in the decades afterwards.  The New World was partially modelled on New York, partially on Paris and at its center stands the Tsutenkaku Tower, a 64m high steel structure resembling the Eiffel Tower.

Visiting Shinsekai today is like entering a time capsule. Not that that would be a bad          thing. On the contrary, it explains today's continuing fascination with Shinsekai.

shinsekai

Kobe is located on Honshu island  and is known for being one of the most vibrant cities in Japan. Located on a scenic harbor and a background of its own mountain, offers unique views.

Kobe is also known for a devastating earthquake that hit in 1995 and took the city to the ground.

And of course the city’s most famous foodstuff – the Kobe beef.

How I said before, it is a vibrant city and therefore so many places to visit and enjoy. We spent only a day and this is what we chose.

Kobe Harborland  Kobe Harborland umie is the symbol of Kobe’s waterfront area.

An entertainment area, home to a variety of unique attractions such as the “Hanebashi”; a drawbridge that is one of Kobe’s famous landmarks.

The two biggest draws of Kobe Harborland umie are shopping and dining.

The area of Kitano-cho contains a number of western-style residences (Ijinkan) at the foot of Mt. Rokko.

These residences were built after Kobe was opened as a Treaty Port in 1869.

The Kitano-cho area has the best preserved ijinkan in Japan, even the Starbucks is located in a Cultural Property.

Kitano Tenman Shrine is one of Kobe’s major Shinto shrines, located in Kitano. 

The shrine fortunately did not suffer any damage during the second world war or the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. The shrine is at the end of a hiking trail, starting from Sannomiya Station and passing through the streets of Kitano. You will get the best views of the city from this beautiful place.

kitano tenman shrine
kitano
kitano
Kobe harborland

Nara is the perfect place to look back into Japan’s ancient culture and dramatic history.

This is usually a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto, but this place is hardly a well-kept secret and you are guaranteed to find crowds around the main sights, so we decided to visit slow and spent two days.

Nara Park is where most of the city attractions are located., like the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, that is filled with lanterns that worshipers donate. The path leading up to the shrine is lined with tall stone lanterns. This is the best place to end the day from where to see a magical sunset.

Around all those attractions you will probably stop more than a couple of times to feed and contemplate all the deer that will surround you!

there are a lot of vendors selling crackers specifically made for the deer that you can buy for ¥150.

Todai-ji Temple, probably the most famous attraction of Nara, was once the world’s largest wooden building and it is the house of the largest bronze statue of a Buddha. 

This giant bronze statue stands 15 meters tall and dates back to 752. 

The Kofuku-ji Temple is home to some of the world's oldest surviving wooden buildings of great historic value, including a five-storied pagoda and a three-storied pagoda.

Nara
Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji Temple

Nara park
Nara Park
Kofuku-ji temple

The Kufuku-ji Temple

Most people visit Hiroshima to learn about one of the most terrible events in human history. The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

I have to tell you it is such a strange feeling to be in the place where this tragedy happened over 70 years ago.

Hiroshima isn't just about the bomb but it is the main thing you are going to visit, so you cannot miss:

 

The Peace Memorial Park is the most important sight in Hiroshima. Established after World War II, at the exact spot where the atom bomb detonated.

The A-Bomb Dome will immediately catch your eye. This building was one of the few that wasn’t completely destroyed by the atomic bomb because it was beneath the center of the bomb’s blast zone. The building has been preserved in its damaged condition as a memorial.

A day trip to Miyajima Island is an absolute must!

House of the iconic Itsukushima Shrine, well known for its large torii gate or 'floating torii'. It was built at the beach in order to create the illusion of floating on the water.

There are also several other temples to admire on the island. .

It takes about an hour to get to Miyajima from Hiroshima. First, take the JR train from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi and then the JR ferry. If you have a Japan Rail Pass the entire journey will be covered!

Omotesando street is the main visitor’s street on Miyajima Island. It is filled with gift shops, restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream shops, candy stores, art and historical artifacts. You can get a good taste of some of the culture of Hiroshima from hanging out on this street.

A-Dome

A-Dome

Floating Torii
Floating Torii

Wait after the sun set to see the illuminated torii.

I would say Kyoto is one of the top visits in Japan. Something about its past, the preservation of arts and traditional culture makes it special over the other cities.

The number of days you need to spend here is a personal decision, taking in consideration the time you have. Kyoto has much more to offer than a 2 days visit, and its surrounded by beautiful getaways like Arashiyama.

Let´s start with this.

Arashiyama  is about 30 minutes away from Kyoto and it is a popular destination.  It’s filled with temples and shrines, but the star attraction is the famed Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, which you have probably seen before in pictures.

You must try the famous matcha ice cream and Tofu donut.

Bambo grove
Goiji Temple

Goiji Temple is famous for its gorgeous moss garden.

DSC_0119.jpg

River Boat

Explore the historic district of Higashiyama, specifically Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka , iconic streets of Kyoto City, which represent Japan’s good old days. 

The traditional wooden homes and buildings create a wonderful atmosphere. 

Higashiyama
Higashiyama
Higashiyama

As you can see, Japanese girls love dressing up like *Geishas and walk around when visiting Kyoto.

*Geishas are professional entertainers. They are trained in various traditional Japanese arts, such as dance and music, as well as in the art of communication.

There were over a 80.000 of Geishas in the 20s, but today there are far fewer.

Yasaka Shrine and Maruyama Park. Both close to each other are at the top of the most  visited places in Kyoto. Maruyama is a beautiful park, famous for the cherry blossoms in Spring but also for the colors in Fall. 

Photography sessions are popular during Fall and Spring. 

Maruyama park

The temple Kiyomizudera was founded in 778 AD and contains buildings from the 17th century, including a main hall designated as a National Treasure.  The temple’s wooden stage offers an outstanding panoramic view of Kyoto.

You can spend a whole afternoon visiting the Temple. Admire the main hall and the views from it, drink the sacred water filled with good karma at the Otowa no Taki waterfall, wish for a loving relationship at the Jishu Shrine, venture into the “womb of the bodhisattva” tunnel, have an early dinner at one of the cozy restaurants and -if you are visiting in Fall- wait to the sunset to see the illuminations.

Kiyomizudera
Kiyomizudera
Kiyomizudera

Kinkaku-ji is definitely a must-see on your Kyoto bucket list. The golden temple that seems to be floating over the mirror pond, In combination with the numerous islands and pine trees, looks unreal.

Each floor represents a different style of architecture an the top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. 

Golden Pavilion

Nabana no Sato is a botanical garden/theme park in Kuwana City. People from all around the world come to see the large variety of flowers and vegetation. But what really makes this place so popular is its illuminating installations.

Over 8 million LED lights are used to illuminate the different installations within the 210,000 square meter-area that is Nabana no Sato Winter Illumination!

The illuminated attractions include the walk-through Tunnel of Light and the major flower garden area is transferred into a fairyland-like dazzling display.

 

The fee is a bit expensive -2300yen- but it is totally worth it.

Nabana no sato

Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, this village with its 250 years old Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. 

The architectural style developed over many generations is designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow that falls in the region during winter. The roofs, made without nails, provided a large attic space used for cultivating silkworms.

This is a perfect one day trip from Takayama or Kanazawa.

A bus line is the popular way to go.

You have to reserve before going and that is not cover by the Japan Rail Pass.

Shirakawago
Takayama

Takayama is  a city in the mountainous Hida region. It preserves a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town. 

The Takayama Festifal celebrated during Autumn and Srping is considered one of Japan's best festivals.

Takayama
Takayama culture

Only one hour south of Tokyo is located the coastal town of Kamakura. Even though it is a small town,it is very popular because of its temples, shrines and beaches.

Beach

Even during fall time you will see surfers looking for the perfect wave.

The Great Buddha is a bronze statue which stands on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. With a height of 11.4 meters, it has long been the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan. 

You can get inside the Buddha!

The great buddha

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is Kamakura's most important shrine. 

The shrine is dedicated to Hachiman, the patron god of the Minamoto family and of the samurai in general. 

To the left of the stairway stood until 2010 a large ginkgo tree, which predated the shrine, and was once used as a hideout in an ambush attack. Every autumn, the tree turned beautifully golden, but it did not survive a winter storm in March 2010. 

Hachimangu
Hachimangu
Hachimango

Engakuji is not just one of the great Zen temples but a popular spot for autumn colors, which usually reach their peak around early December. The temple entrance, which is surrounded by many maple trees, is a particularly popular photo object.

Autumn

Meigetsuin Temple is also known as Ajisaidera ("Hydrangea Temple") because hydrangeas bloom in abundance on the temple grounds during the rainy season around June. 

In the back of Meigetsuin's lush temple grounds stands the main hall, and in it, a circular window, which frames the scenery of the inner garden behind it. 

It is open to visitors only during two periods: in June when the hydrangeas are in bloom, and in late November/early December when the autumn colors are at their best. 

Main hall

Nikko is another perfect day trip from Tokyo. This small city is the entrance to Nikko National Park.

 

The Shinkyo Bridge stands at the entrance to Nikko's shrines and temple and is ranked as one of Japan's three finest bridges

Nikko
Shinkyo bridge

Toshugu Shrine. This elaborate shrine consists of 55 buildings set in a poetic mist-laden forest. .

One of the stunning features of this shrine are the decorative wood carvings, once lavishly embellished with gold leaf, that adorn the gates and exterior walls of countless buildings.

Once you’re at the foot of Sakashita-mon Gate, get ready to climb a flight of 207 stone steps within the tranquil forest backdrop until you reach the tomb of Ieyasu. 

What to say about Tokyo? it’s an absolute must-see!

One of the greatest cities in the world is just the beginning of the description of an awesome place.

There is no place like Tokyo and that is why you need to experience and see the most you can. There are never enough days to do this but you might get an idea of Tokyo´s vibe visiting this following places.

One way to hace an overall vision of Tokyo is taking a peek from the Skytree building,

Tokyo Skytree is a television broadcasting tower and landmark of Tokyo. With a height of 634 meters(2080 feet), it is the tallest structure in Japan and the second tallest in the world. 

In a clear day you can even see The Mount Fuji!

Skytree

How I said before, Tokyo is huge and has a lot to offer and that is why you need to choose what to visit.

Tokyo is the capital of Japan and  the city it is divided into 23 special wards or municipalities.

Most popular places:

Shinjuku is one of the 23 city wards and the large entertainment, business and shopping area around Shinjuku Station.

Shinjuku Station is the world's busiest railway station.

Shinkuju
shinjuku
Shinkuju

Asakusa and its main attraction, the sacred temple Sensō-ji, are must-visits. The classical temple, with its iconic red lantern and the charming Nakamise shopping street that lines its approach, are the most tradicional area in the big city.

Ginza was Tokyo's first Western-style shopping district and it's still where the old money shops. The wide boulevards and narrow lanes of Ginza are lined with high-end boutiques, department stores and exclusive restaurants. It is a place to see and not touch, at lest for me!

Ginza
Ginza
Ginza

Shibuya The chaotic, yet miraculously organized crossing has become a symbol of Tokyo's dynamism and represents Shibuya. To cross the street it is an experience itself but get lost in the streets and live Tokyo's craziness! 

Shibuya crossing

Picture taken from Starbucks

Shibuya

Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo bay and such a popular destination for Tokyoites and tourists alike. It is home of some of Tokyo's boldest architectural creations.

The most popular attractions are:

  • The Ferris wheel

  • Fuji Television studios, with a distinctive building designed by Kenzo Tange

  • Rainbow Bridge, connecting Odaiba to the heart of Tokyo

  • Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Center)

  • DiverCity Tokyo Plaza, a shopping center

  • Decks Tokyo Beach shopping mall

  • Shiokaze park with BBQ places and Higashi Yashio park

  • A replica of the Statue of Liberty

  • The best views of Tokyo skyline.

Odaiba

Takeshita street is one-quarter of a mile of fun, food and shopping. Colorful and especially sweet, filled with shops full of clothing and accessories, and food stands selling a variety of extremely sweet desserts – candies, crepes stacked with fruit and whipped-cream, ice-cream, cotton candy and more.

Everything you have imagined of Japan will happen here. The heart of Japanese street style and the symbol of Japanese youth culture.

Takeshita street

Fish Market. Tokyo is famous for its superb sushi, and one of the best places to get your hands on some is the Toyosu Fish Market.

Fish market

If you are a Disney lover this is probably already in your plans and you have to spend a day here.

Disney

There are many options to visit the mount or places to see it from. We went to Kawaguchico lake for a day trip.

Lake Kawaguchi is the ultimate place to view Mt Fuji from afar and if you are lucky enough to be visiting during spring you will enjoy the cherry blossoms season or during fall time the colorful foliage.

Tip; Rent a bike tp move around.

Unfortunately I Lost all my camera pics of that day and just kept these two.

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Mt.Fuji

IMPORTANT: DO NOT MISS A KARAOKE, MAKE FRIENDS AND BEHAVE LIKE A REAL JAPANESE!

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