So while I was desperately running into a toilet, just before my first Japanese train departure, I was presented to the ultimate high tech world. As I sat down (we all love a detailed description of toilet visits), something strange happened: The seat was comfortably heated and the calming sound of a river from some kind of untouched natural scenery (I imagine) was playing from something behind me. This was of course to ensure privacy of the sitting down creatures in the bathroom. On my right side there was a remote control, yes, a remote control. It looked like you could adjust the temperature of both the seat and also, if needed, a refreshing splash of water to clean you up. At this point it kind of got a bit too fancy for me, and I was also late to catch my famously on-time bullet train. I could then sit back and relax with the reassurance of never having a cold butt in Japan.
People are just so huggable here in Japan; so cute! Even the homeless people make you wanna cuddle them. Never have I ever been greeted so much in my whole life! They are all so helpful, polite and genuine kind. I had a very nice conversation with this elderly woman, we didn’t understand one word of what we said to each other, but still it was a very meaningful and friendly conversation. Later that day I experienced yet another proof of Japan’s genuine allover sense of caring: A woman lost her phone on the train and EVERYONE in the same ‘car’ helped her look for it. In Norway no one would have lifted their bum even if someone had lost their dog…
There is so much to Japan that I don’t really know where to start. The first things that pop into my mind are the colourful craziness, sushi, hardcore technology, noodle omelettes, and silly game shows. Because there’s so much to do and so much to see I would highly recommend just focusing on a few cities and rather stay there for a longer time. So here we go:
If you do like us (taking a ferry from South Korea) you will then end up in Fukuoka. Don’t spend too much time here as you have plenty to experience in other places.
This is a great main hub when you want to explore the destinations around the city. One of these destinations is the Itsukushima Shrine. This is the famous “floating” Torri gate; a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite the fact that this island is more famous for its gate, the deers running around are just another reason for visiting this place. Hiroshima is also the place you should stay if you want to go for a daytrip to The Rabbit Island (check my previous blog post for more details). However, it is possible to stay at a hotel that is on the actual Rabbit Island if you do not want to spend both your morning and evening traveling. Hiroshima is unfortunately not only known for its short way to fluffy creatures: We have all heard of the evilness Hiroshima had to deal with. Make sure that you visit the memorial park.
This city is flowing over with seafood! The Seafood streets will take your breath away. Even if you don’t like seafood, you just have to experience the crazy streetlife. Do also visit the Umeda Sky Building. The glowing observation deck will make you find the childish soul in you again.
This is in my opinion the most beautiful Japanese city. The harmony of traditional streets and fairytale like parks are shining in the eyes of glammed up geishas and magical tea pots. You can read more about it in my Kyoto post.
If you are a manga fan the ‘Manga Museum’ is definitely a must. Watching the manga artists playing with their pen over the paper will make anyone respect this type of art. After educating yourself on japanese cartoon take a coffee break at the % Cafe. Best coffee I have had in Japan!
If you google Kyoto one of the first things that will show up is the Super famous Kinkakuji (golden pavilion). This is a temple in Northern Kyoto. Make sure you do not miss this. After viewing the temple from across the not so little pond, you can follow the path around until you get behind the temple and then from there you can walk through the stunning temple garden. Entrance to the temple area is 400 yen.
Nara is just an hour train journey away from Kyoto (going from Osaka, which is also about an hour, is possible too). Nara is known for its wild and flirty deers, which is more than enough reason to visit this place. Make sure to visit this amazing Italian restaurant, Nino, for dinner. These guys took such good care of us that we were ready to move in.
Oh God, where to start? You can easily spend a week here, and many would say even that is too short. Animal cafés, kinky art facilities, hot springs, tuna auctions, you name it… First of all, make sure you find a place to sleep! As you might know by now Japan is expensive, and Tokyo is the most expensive city; it’s the capital after all, da-a. Therefore for two cheap backpackers we did a lot of research of where to sleep for a reasonable price. This one was definitely the best airbnb we come across. It’s simple but cosy, AND relatively central, though, at the same time being a bit outside the craziness. Perfect! The owner is the sweetest girl ever, so if we find ourself back in Tokyo this is definitely the place I would stay again. For more Tokyo photos check out my last blog post. Here is just a few of the activities you might be doing in the city:
Tsukiji fish market: The tuna action is probably one of the most famous attractions in Tokyo. The good news is that it is free, the bad news is that you’ll have to get up unhumanly early! The first morning we tried to join in we were actually too late to get a seat. Just 10 minutes before we got there the seats were already taken. This was after getting up at 3.45 am in the morning, getting there at 4.19, and realising that even though the auction does not start before 6am they start handing out the tickets already at 3.30. Next morning we tried again, and this time we got there at 3.15 and we finally manage to get in. Hah! At 3.30 all seats were taken. Be there early! Make also sure that you have accommodation close by the Tsukiji fish market, as no public transportation is running at this time, and taking a taxi can be more expensive than staying in a hotel nearby.
After a fishy tuna morning, have your sushi breakfast, then (you might want to take a short nap first) head over to the Jigokudani Yaen-koen park. Here you will find the stunning snow monkeys. We tried to do this the same day we missed our tuna action. Haha, guess what? We missed the monkeys too. Apparently, the monkeys left the hot spring 30 minutes before we got there, after traveling 3 hours just to say hey. So no monkey stars to greet us. Though, I would still recommend that people try to visit them. Keep in mind if you are coming from Tokyo get the Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass from the train station, which will cover all transportation to and back from the park.
“Centuries-old works of art depicting graphic sex are being displayed in a tiny Tokyo museum with curators wanting the public to appreciate their ‘humour’”… A museum of Japanese art they said, it was rather a disturbing porn show room. I was left with what I will call an icky after taste. There is something so uncomfortable about walking around in dark, overheated, sweaty smelling rooms and constantly bumping into grandparents, which just did not fit with my preferences of a Saturday afternoon. However, it was definitely an experience. I’m sorry I can’t post any photos from this museum, but, just google “Eisei Bunko Museum” and you will see enough octopus action for a lifetime.
Check out my last blog post!
I can’t think of a more Japanese experience.
No explanation needed. Make sure you end one of your last evenings with a breathtaking view of the city in company with your favorite cocktail.
Nikko is a daytrip from Tokyo; just to get a break from the craziness. This is a beautiful national park, where you will find the famous Shinkyo Bridge. Do like me and dress up in a Kimono, just like a Japanese princess (you can find more photos from this post).
Guys, this was amazing! I can’t recommend this enough. An Onsen is an area of hot springs and the bathing facilities around it. This is probably one of the most Japanese experiences you could ever have. Make sure you book far in advance!
Japan I want to thank you…
The sunrise reflection in Tokyo is passing us as we leave this journey behind. I can feel my eyes welling up, and a clump is itching my throat. Japan, you have given me the warmest memories (despite being the coldest temperature wise) of all the countries I have visited. Last leaf has fallen… Last leaf is disappearing into the cold ground. Winter is here… But first I’m going to have a few stolen summer days in Bangkok!
Quote Of The Day:
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
– Carol Sobieski