Japan made easy

Whether you are in Japan for 5 days or 5 weeks, there is something for everybody’s taste. Yes, there will be more possibilities than time available. My suggestion? Stay at any place for 3 or 4 nights to give yourself a chance to explore and take in the local sites and delights in some detail.

Here are some of my experiences that you might like to consider. Its a long list, but please keep scrolling through. There is gold everywhere!

Around Tokyo

  • Asakusa is undoubtedly one of the top visitor destinations.
  • Walking around the old town of Nippori can be very revealing of Tokyo’s old houses and small streets
  • Art galleries abound. If you are into photography you can’t go past the Tokyo Metropolitan Photography Museum at Ebisu. The Ebisu Beer Museum is just next door.
  • Everyone talks about the Tsujiki fish markets. Just do it! A 5am start but well worth it.
  • Hama-ryku Gardens are a place to enjoy a rest in an ancient Tea House, or take in the peace f this park surrounded by skyscrapers. The gardens are a stop on the fantastic ferry from Asakusa to Hinode Pier n the Sumida River.
  • While the new Tokyo Sky Tree seems like a sensational place for viewing the expansive Tokyo megalopolis, I would still go for the 50 story (and free) observation decks at the Tokyo Government Offices in Shinjuku.
  • Sumida River ferry takes you from Asakusa to Hama-ryku Gardens or Hinode Pier where you can take the fantastic Yurikamone Line monorail across the Rainbow Bridge to the ultra modern Odaiba area
  • The temples and shrines around Asakusa are an absolute must. I would recommend taking one of the free guided tours run by the Asakusa tourist office
  • Yoyogi Park, Harujuku and Meiji Shrine. Spend all Sunday here or shopping on nearby Omotesando-dori
  • Ueno Park is an extensive parkland that includes Ueno Zoo as well as some serious museums and galleries such as the Tokyo National Museum and Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
  • The Imperial Palace precinct is always beautiful. You might even be lucky to be there when some of the local roads are closed to vehicles and open to pedestrians and bicycles
  • One of the best private art collections in the world is here in Tokyo at the Bridgestone Museum of Art right near Tokyo station
  • Now how could a visit to any modern city not include spending atleast a day traveling around subways and surface railways. Tokyo is a train freak’s heaven. And to top it off, it has a fantastic tram line running through dozens of northern suburbs. Go from one end to the other of the Toden Arakawa Tram Line.
  • The Edo Museum in Ryugoku
  • Ghibli Museum is an amazing tribute to master animator Hayao Miyazaki – he of Spirited Away fame. Don’t be put off by no material being in English at this museum or that 80% of visitors are children – it is a fantastic experience.
  • And when you are coming back from Ghibli Museum, take a stroll through the great linear park of Inokashira Koen. You might even get to see the bluesman who has been playing here for decades. Apparently.
  • Don’t be afraid to cycle around Tokyo. Thousands of locals do.

Around Hiroshima

Other places very much worth visiting

  • Kawayu Onsen is a remote village in Wakayama Prefecture. Well worth the effort to get there. It is also close to trailheads for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage road.
  • Heda, a small port on the western side of the Izu Peninsula, accessible from Mishima and Numazu.
  • Mt Fuji. Say no more.
  • Matsumoto is a beautiful place. The town itself has the fantastic Matsumoto Castle, and is home to the annual Taiko (drumming) festival. Matsumoto is also the stepping off point for the Japanese Alps and places like Kamikochi.
  • Narai is an old post town on the Nakasendo Way, an ancient road linking Tokyo and Kyoto.
  • The World Heritage temples and shrines of Nara are a must. Just a hour from Kyoto.
  • Nikko is another World Heritage area with numerous shrines and temples set in a rugged mountain landscape.
  • The centre of the Izu Peninsula is just 2 hours from Tokyo, a beautiful, remote and rugged place. Ito has a great K’s House Hostel in an old culturally significant building adjacent to the river, and great places to enjoy the local seafood. Mishima can be used as a base for exploring the Peninsula, doing some shopping, or checking out some art.
  • Saijo is the centre of sake production around Hiroshima.

Volunteer guides will add to your cultural experiences by personal interpretation.

People you meet when you least expect it

More Football games! Socceroos, Blue Samurai and J-League action at your door

History, Culture and Festivals abound don’t ever say there is not enough to do!

Riding around on a bicycle built for one. Bicycle riding in Japan is relatively safe. And there are extensive off-road trails and paths

Walking around trails and paths are everywhere. For an hours stroll or a multi day trek.

Training around Myriads of information about the extensive train system in Japan and the famous JR Rail Pass, and rides on local trains (the smaller and more remote the better).

What to do and see Too much choice. Too little time. Two suggestions: stay at a place for a minimum of 3 nights. Pick only a few sights to see at each stay.

Eating out I have heard there are around 60,000 eateries in Tokyo alone. There is no reason to miss out on good value, fresh and tasty food. And there is no reason to go to any western fast food joint!

Accommodation options are varied, from youth hostels, to business hotels, to traditional ryokans, and hotels.

(last edited 24 January, 2014)


2 Responses to Japan made easy

  1. petal & pins says:

    Thanks for the tips! we are going to Japan for the first time in May


  2. Christina says:

    What a fantastic resource! Thanks!


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