From Tokyo and Takayama to Kyoto and Hiroshima (and so much in between), my wife Jenny and I recently had an amazing journey through the fascinating country of Japan. We started out by flying directly into Tokyo, the nation’s capital and largest city.
In Tokyo we visited Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace Plaza, Senso-ji Temple, among other popular sites. We experienced a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and were able to enjoy a Sumida River Cruise, which was a fun way to see the city from a different perspective.
After spending a couple days in Tokyo (where the streets were clean, the people polite and food delicious!), we headed out to Hakone and Mt. Fuji National Park. Unfortunately, we had overcast weather which made viewing the mountain challenging. However, the boat ride at the base of the mountain was breathtaking. It’s a must-do experience, rain or shine!
One of the unique highlights of the trip came from our “transfer” from Hakone to Takayama – the world renown Shinkansen bullet train, which reaches speeds of up to 186 miles per hour. It’s a must.
Takayama is a beautiful mountain town with plenty to see and do, and the city is very walkable. We had some of the best food on the trip here – the Hida Beef was amazing. Also, there is a large morning market (Miyagawa Market) that is great for picking up souvenirs and trying some of the local foods.
We then went on to Kyoto (Jenny’s favorite city on the trip). Kyoto is the nation’s former capital and was the residence of the emperor from 794 until 1868. It’s Japan’s seventh largest metropolis with a population of around 1.4 million and a city of culture that offers hundreds of temples, shrines and other historic structures. To us, it was the perfect mix of busy city life and old-world Japanese culture. Plus, the ramen and Gyozo were some of the best we’ve ever had.
During one of our last days there, we did a day trip to Hiroshima. It’s a very beautiful city and the Peace Memorial Park is an interesting place to visit, obviously best known for its role in WW II as it was targeted with an atomic bomb dropped by the US Army Air Forces near the end of the war. Very fascinating to be standing at the site. That day we also visited Miyajima (Jenny’s favorite small town). We took a ferry out to this island and it was breathtaking. Crystal clear blue water, white sand and a bright red Shinto shrine and structure on the beach. Local deer would come right up to us and let us pet them.
There were so many high points and notable moments for us on this trip. I definitely recommend travelers stay at a Ryokan (traditional Japanese accommodation) for at least one night. The food is very authentic and the minimalist rooms are a nice change from traditional hotels. We were so pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get around and how gracious and polite the people were (they were excited to teach us about their country). It’s a destination that we would recommend in heartbeat and look forward to returning!
Want to learn more even more about how/why to travel to Japan? Read this fun article in Forbes from earlier this year giving you Seven Reasons to Travel to Japan Right Now.
If you want to explore how you might experience this unique Asia destination, email Ann Coleman at AnnC@PiqueTravel.com.