Essence of Japan

We did a tour of Japan but spent a little extra time in Tokyo at the beginning to explore. Tokyo has so much going on you could spend a good week there and never get bored.

The featured picture sums up Japan at this time of year and was taken by Lynn.

Day 1
We arrived mid afternoon and after experiencing the electronic loo and showering it was off out to explore aka get lost. A quick look around the shops then it was off to eat in the alley ways of ….. then for a drink at Golden Gai. At £6 a half we didn’t have a lot
Day 2
Despite horrendous jetlag we were first in the queue to go to the 45th floor of the metropolitan building to get views over the city and towards Mount Fiji.

It was then only a walk to Shinjuku Goyen Gardens where the blossom was well on and we had a walk round the interlinked ponds.

We then took the train to Kouchigigi and went to a very much local park where again the blossom was in in full flow and the highlight was a small lake where all the locals peddled around in Swan shaped boats.

We then went to Nakano to do a bit of  watch shopping and then called it a day. By then it was 10 miles.

Day 3
Late start due to jet lag….

Off to Nakano to complete purchase then down to Meguro canal that is lined with cherry trees and is a quite cosmopolitan area.

We then chilled and sampled the wilder side ice life in Shinjuku.

Day 4
Early start to miss the crowds as it’s Saturday.

One of the star attractions is Meiji Shrine, the picturesque Shinto shrine is set in a delightful tree-lined avenue and luckily enough a wedding was in progress.

We then went to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace Which were very nice but not a great deal of blossom about.

Lunchtime was around the five-storey Asakusa Kannon Temple and to round the day off we went up the 734m Sky Tower in a lift that does 600m/min.

A credit card was refused and had to ring England to sort it out, didn’t realise that the little smart phone on the room gave free calls to UK and used the hotel phone instead……

Day 5
Tokyo – Mt Fiji – Matsumoto
The Five Lakes District is dominated by majestic Mt Fuji, an icon of world travel towering over this region of exceptional natural beauty – on a clear day, the snow-capped, conical volcano is mirrored on the placid waters of Lake Kawaguchi. 

We got to see the castle lit up at night then had a wonderful evening in an Irish Japanese pub with an authentic Irish/Japanese  Celtic band

Day 6
Matsumoto – Takayama
This morning we visit Matsumoto Castle, a striking timber and stone structure with a unique moon-viewing turret. We also take time to sample sake at a traditional brewery. Our journey proceeds through the breathtaking Japanese Alps to the hill town of Takayama. Here we stop at the Hida Folk Village, a large open-air museum with a collection of antique houses from the region and a fabulous showcase of crafts and ancient traditions.
Day 7
Our walking tour of Takayama, known as ‘little Kyoto’, is filled with fabulous attractions from the open-air flower and fruit market to the imposing government house.
We started at the display of floats, had a walk through the preserved old area then went to see the official residence.
After this we had a walk through the woods to see some temples and came across a sign warning us of bears……
Takayama – Kanazawa
This morning we woke up to snow and after an early breakfast we transfer by coach to Kanazawa, visiting the World Heritage Shirakawago Village en route.
It was raining so heavily we decided to stop for a coffee.
It was a local place with local style seats…. Note the library I did “freely choose a book” book but couldn’t read it…….
If you look at the table with two chairs you’ll see that the chair on the right is a babies chair a “high chair”, it has legs on it.
The coffee spoons were made of mother of pearl. I asked to buy them, the man said no but his wife, the business lady, said yes and then robbed me😂


Watashi wa poncho o kōnyū suru koto ga dekimasu doko anata wa watashi o tsutaeru koto ga dekimasu.

Which translates as:

can you tell me where i can buy a poncho.

Result. Got a poncho and entered a lucky dip – won a carton of Liptons tea. Tea probably cost more than the poncho!

Kanazawa is a historic castle town, which boasts beautifully preserved samurai and geisha districts. Our sightseeing tour includes Omicho market and Higashi Chayagai.
Day 9
Kanazawa – Hiroshima
A sightseeing tour of Kanazawa this morning includes the gorgeous Kenroku-en Garden and also the Castle. We then went to Buke-Yashiki (Samurai’s house). We then transfer to Kanazawa Station to depart for Hiroshima by JR Limited Express Train and JR Bullet Train. 
At the station we bought a box of food and some drink for the express train (Thunderbird 24) to Kyoto. We then swapped to the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) at Kyoto to go to Hiroshima, things are so efficient the Bullet Train only stops for 45seconds for passengers to get off/on…..

A nice drink of Sake seemed the order of the day.

Passengers in Japan don’t like travelling backwards so they simply turn the seats around.

Getting off we were treated to two Bullet Trains.

Day 10
Our journey begins at Miyajima Port to catch a ferry over to Miyajima Island, otherwise known as Itsukushima or Divine Island. On arrival we admire the elaborate gate, Itsukushima Shrine, rising majestically out of the sea, and spend time strolling through the park, which dazzles with beautiful maple in autumn. On our return to Hiroshima, we take a walking tour around Peace Memorial Park to see the Flame of Peace, continually burning to symbolise the hope for worldwide peace. Our tour concludes with a visit to the Atomic Bomb Museum, just a short walk from our hotel.
Day 11
Hiroshima – Nara – Kyoto
We transfer to Hiroshima Station for our JR Bullet Train journey to Shin Osaka, where we board our coach for Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan. Attractions here include the famous Todaiji temple, which was built in 794 and became the guardian temple for the city. The building is claimed to be the oldest wooden structure in the world and houses a huge bronze Buddha. We also visit Nara Park, also known as Deer Park, to see hundreds of freely roaming deer. Our adventure proceeds to culturally-rich Kyoto, known historically as ‘Hana No Miyako’, the flowering capital with its wealth of fine architecture in its shrines and temples, gardens with their profusion of colour and variety of art and craft shops. We spend time in the Gion area, the country’s most famous geisha district,
Day 12
Highlights of this morning’s tour include the wonderful Ryoanji Temple, a Zen temple with a famous rock garden, and also the beautiful Kinkakuji Temple, or the ‘Golden Pavilion’, whose top two floors are completely bedecked in gold leaf. We also visit Nijo, a fortified castle with ornate audience halls and unique ‘nightingale’ floors designed to replicate the sound of the nightingale song when stepped on.
This is the most expensive collection of cars I have ever seen in one place.
I stumbled across a Concours de Eleganza event to the side of a temple.
It was a very hard decision to make as it meant by going I missed my 27th temple…..
Day 13
Kyoto – Hakone
After further exploration of Kyoto, including the Kiyomizu Temple, we also enjoy a traditional tea ceremony. We later take the JR Bullet Train from Kyoto to Mishima and continue to Hakone.
Day 14
Hakone – Tokyo
This morning we embark on a cruise on Lake Ashi, from where stunning views of the snow-capped mountains can be seen. We continue by cable car to the Owakudani Valley and Hot Springs, lying in the crater of Mt Hakone. We later enjoy marvellous views of Tokyo Bay on the way to Odaiba Bay where we had a final Okonomi Yaki meal and viewed the Rainbow Bridge at night.

Japan was an absolutely fascinating place to visit. It was so clean friendly and safe. The food was brilliant and would recommend anyone to go.