Leanne

Temple in Japan tour

 

Japan had always been on my bucket list of places to experience. I chose November to see the beautiful autumn foliage and a less busy time than cherry blossom time (March/April). Japan is a very diverse holiday destination, from modern sometimes kitsch Tokyo, such a hugely populated city, small villages such as Shirakawa-go, to the historical old capital, Kyoto. Japan has something for everyone.

 

Japan travel agents Australia

 

Japan made even me nervous to travel to, how to get around using trains, especially with the language barrier. However, with my extensive itinerary detailing every step of the journey it was so much easier than I thought. Using my Japan Rail pass (JR passes can only be purchased in Australia before leaving for your trip), train travel was the easiest way to see this country. My biggest tip for train travel is on your first day head into a JR office (located at major train stations) and book your seat reservations for every segment for your trip. The JR staff speak excellent English and plan each train segment for you using their extensive knowledge of the train timetables. Then you have tickets showing exact times and trains, making it so much easier. He even made sure we had Mt Fuji view seats from Kyoto to Tokyo. While you are at the JR office, buy your Suica card (like our Myki cards) for train travel around Tokyo. You can’t buy these at the stations. You top this card up with Yen and tap it rather than having to constantly buy individual tickets for each train. The card can even be used in convenience stores. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to do, the staff at the train stations are exceptionally helpful (like all Japanese people). The stations are huge, for example Shinjuku station has 14 entrances, so you often find yourself asking for directions. The train app, or we used Google Maps, plans each train for you.

 

travel to japan

 

Tokyo was amazing and huge! We ventured out and about ourselves and did a few pre-organised tours which helped us make the most of our time in Tokyo. Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, Ginza, markets, Disneyland, temples, Mori Digital Museum, Sanrio Puroland, Hedgehog Cafe, Shibuba Crossing, Karaoke, Nikko, Kamakura, Enoshima and amazing restaurants were many of the places we visited during our 5 days / 6 nights in Tokyo.

 

Temple in Japan

 

We then headed to the peaceful Hakone to see Mt Fuji and stay in a Ryokan (traditional Japanese accommodation with futon beds). The Ryokan had an Onsen (hot spring) and they are segregated into male and female and you bathe in the mineral water naked! Although this was quite confronting at first, it was liberating and so relaxing (don’t worry, they have private baths as well, however these have queues). Our skin never felt better. At least one night in a Ryokan is a must for any Japan holiday.

 

Village in Japan travel

 

Many people then travel direct to Kyoto, however, we wanted to experience more of the ‘real’ Japan and travelled to Takayama by Shinkansen (bullet train). These trains travel so fast and take you long distances in just a few hours. Even with our large suitcases (yes, we intended to travel light but hey, options and weather!) the travel was so easy. The scenery was spectacular. Speaking of spectacular: We did a half day tour to Shirakawa-go, a UNSECO World Heritage site. The charming mountain village of Shirakawa-go in the Japanese Alps and the houses against the autumn leaves were stunning. My tip for internal Japan is bring shoes that are easy to slip off and on and good socks as you wear these all around your accommodations.

 

visiting temple in Japan

 

Next was Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, best known as the culture capital of Japan, famous for its Geisha areas and temples. We visited Nara and explored the Ninjo Castle and loved the sacred deer. They bow three times to ask for food. The Sagano bamboo grove is stunning. We visited Jojakko-ji Temple, this temple overlooks the town of Sagano and the city of Kyoto. The area is famous for its beautiful scenery when the coloured leaves cover the mountain in autumn. From here we boarded a Yakatabune boat for a Japanese-style lunch, which was magical.

We spent a day at Miyajima Island and Hiroshima. The island was so picturesque, and visiting Hiroshima was a very emotional day.

Japan is such a safe country and there is so much to see and do. There is something for everyone. The culture was wonderful to experience. It was a great family holiday with memories to cherish forever.

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