Japan. Day 11: Himeji castle & Osaka

Eleventh day of our trip to Japan in spring 2015, my husband and I went to a visit Himeji and Osaka. Early in the morning we left our hotel in Kyoto and boarded the fast shikansen train to Himeji.

The reason we traveled to Himeji was the castle Himeji-jo – one of twelve original Japanese castles that hasn’t been damaged or destroyed in the wars or in natural disasters. It is actually pretty remarkable that the castle is still standing. During World War II the Himeji town was completely destroyed by the allies, but the castle remained intact. Luckily the bomb that landed on the roof failed to detonate. As it is still in its original shape and because is considered to be the finest example of the classic Japanese feudal period architecture it has been inscribed to UNESCO World Heritage list. Continue reading

Japan. Day 9: Cycling in Kyoto

On our second day in Kyoto, my husband and I woke up to a warm sunny day – perfect day for cycling. We went to the cycle rental shop nearby main train station we’ve spotted the day before and rented two bikes with which we explored Kyoto.

Kinkaku-ji temple

Kyoto served as Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1868 when the capital functions were transferred to Tokyo. For centuries was the centre of politics and culture. Many of historical buildings, temples and shrines were build during this period – so many, Kyoto is now also known as “City of Ten Tousand Shrines”. Seventeen of those buildings are now inscribed to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. My husband and I decided to visit two of them: Kinkaku-ji and Ryōan-ji.
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Japan. Day 8: Arashiyama

On our eighth day in Japan, we left Hiroshima and travelled to Kyoto, a former capital of imperial Japan. Travelling between both cities by super fast, clean and comfortable bullet train – shikansen was again a pleasure.

Bamboo grove in Arashiyama

After arrival in Kyoto, we found our hotel, checked-in, left our luggage in our room and went out exploring. We decided to go to the to Arashiyama, a lovely district at the western outskirts of the town where the famous bamboo grove and some of Kyoto’s most popular temples can be found. Continue reading

Japan. Day 7: Hiroshima & Miyajima: Museums & Shrines

On our second day in Hiroshima my boyfriend and I left our hotel to get some breakfast. We found lovely Danish bakery Andersen. We bought some pastries and sandwiches and took them with to the Peace Memorial Park. We found a bench with a view to the A-bomb Dome and ate our breakfast there. With our bellies full, we moved towards the Peace Memorial Museum. On our way there two Japanese students approached us and asked us to help them fulfil their English class assignment. They had to approach the tourists and ask them some questions in order to practice their English skills. We agreed to help them. We answered their questions and took photos with the them, then we bid goodbye and continue our walk towards the Peace Memorial Museum.

The flame of peace, cenotaph and Peace Memorial Museum

The Peace Memorial Museum is a museum dedicated to the WW2 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. After paying the symbolic admission fee of 50 JPY per person, we’ve entered the exhibition area. Continue reading

Day 6: From Hakone to Hiroshima

As you might read one of my previous posts, my boyfriend and I spent a night at the Japanese inn in Hakone region. After the morning soak in the onsen, we’ve attended the Japanese breakfast. They served us fish, egg boiled in onsen, rice, miso soup and a bunch of different vegetable in tiny bowls. We tried the dishes, but we didn’t ate much. For our stomachs adapted to western breakfast, this Japanese breakfast was just too heavy.

At shikansen to Hiroshima

We returned to our room, packed our things and checked out. The kind receptionist ordered us a lift to the train station and in half an hour, we were sitting on the train to Odawara. There we caught the shikansen to Hiroshima. The time at this super-fast train flew by and soon we arrived to Hiroshima. There we stopped at the tourist office and grab some maps. Kind lady at the information desk who spoke perfect English also explained us hot to get to our hotel. With her instructions and a map, we found it easily. This time, the we didn’t have to wait for our room, it was already prepared for us. We left our luggage there and went out exploring. Continue reading

Japan. Day 5: Mt Fuji and ryokan experience in Hakone

On the fifth day of our trip to Japan my boyfriend and I left bustling Tokyo for peaceful Hakone, a mountainous area west of Tokyo famous for hot springs and Mt Fuji views.

Lake Ashi & Mt Fuji

In the morning, we bid farewell to Asakusa and successfully navigate our suitcases through the morning rush. At the Tokyo station we’ve boarded shinkansen Kodama to Odawara. There we’ve change super-fast and comfortable shikansen for slow local Hakone-Tozan Line to Hakone Yumoto. We’ve just missed the bus that would take us to our ryokan (Japanese inn) in Tonosawa. Because we would have to wait for another one for quite some time, we decided to take the taxi. After a short ride, we arrived to our accommodation. Again, we arrived too early to check in and our room wasn’t ready yet. We left our luggage in the lobby and went out to explore the area. Continue reading

Japan. Day 4: Cat Cafe & Baseball in Tokyo

The fourth day of our trip to Japan was dedicated to two things my boyfriend and I are passionate about: sports and cats.

Petting time at the Calico cat cafe

My boyfriend is a sports enthusiast. We often visit sports venues and events on our travels. Our trip to Japan wouldn’t be the same without some sports-related activity. Our first pick was to attend sumo, a Japanese wrestling sport. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the tournament, so we had to settle for the plan B: the baseball. Continue reading

Japan. Day 3: Hanging-out with Snow Monkeys

On our third day in Japan, we left Tokyo for a day trip to Jigokudani Monkey Park, a home of the famous snow monkeys. It is located in valley of Yokoyu river in the Japanese Alps, near Nagano. This trip to one of the limited places in Japan where you can observe wild Japanese Macaques (nicknamed Snow Monkeys) in their natural habitat was at my bucket list since I first saw documentary about them years ago. Therefore, Jigokudani was simply a must stop on our trip to Japan.

Jigokudani Monkey

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Japan. Day 2: Exploring Tokyo

Day 2 of our Japan adventure started early in the morning. In Japan sun rises earlier than in Switzerland – already around 4.30 am. The night before we’ve admired the amazing view from our window and we forgot to shut the curtains. Our room was facing east and first rays of sunshine woke us soon after the sunrise. Still a bit jet-lagged, we couldn’t fall asleep anymore. We woke up, got dressed and went to the breakfast. As we expected, hotel offered a broad variety of Japanese and Western dishes. We were not yet ready to try Japanese breakfast, so we’ve grabbed some coffee, bread, croissants, butter, marmalade and some fruits. With our bellies full, we were ready to get out and explore Tokyo.

Night view from our room

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