As I’m getting ready for my first trip overseas in a long time I’m thinking about the great three weeks we had in Japan just before the pandemic struck. What a beautiful country! We had quite high expectations from that trip and I have to say, Japan didn’t disappoint.
We bought JRPass and traveled by Shinkansen bullet train. That made planning this trip so easy as we knew that we will be able to get from one place to the next one quickly and won’t waste any time in traffic.
Smaller cities were our favourite and I would definitely recommend visiting Shikoku and Kyushu. Cities on these islands weren’t that crowded and I’m so happy we went there as the experience was a lot different than in well known, and always so busy, Kyoto and Tokyo.
Here is a photo tour to give you some idea on where to go. If you haven’t been in Nippon yet, I’m sure it is high on your bucket list.
Osaka, Honshu Island
First impressions? We loved it!
Bowing Nara deer are the symbol of the city. And yes, they really do bow, especially when you have some food in your hand.
On the way to Shikoku we stopped to visit Naoshima – Japan’s art island. This is a great place for a day trip. You can rent a bike and check out museums and sculptures located around the island.
Takamatsu, Shikoku Island
If you are planning to travel around Shikoku, and Takamatsu is one of your stops, visit Ritsurin Garden.
Matsuyama Castle is one of Japan’s few original castles. It is located on the hill in the city centre – you can get there on the ropeway, with a chairlift or you can walk up.
Beppu, Kyushu Island
We took a ferry from Matsuyama to Beppu, home to more than 2,000 onsen (hot springs), set between Beppu Bay and volcanic mountains. Here you can even cook your food using the steam from natural hot springs!
Kumamoto city is most famous for its castle (and Kumamon, the mascot, of course) The castle is one of the three great castles of Japan (the other two are in Nagoya and Osaka). It is set on large grounds so take your time and have a nice walk around.
At 41m long, 11m high and almost 300 tons – this is the biggest bronze reclining Buddha statue in the world they say. It is located in Nanzoin Temple close to Fukuoka, a quick train ride and you are there.
I’m sure you’ve seen this building in a picture a lot of times – a symbol of peace, Atomic Bomb Dome.
Some great food on Myajima Island! Our okonomiyaki is almost ready! There will be a separate post on Japanese cuisine, it’s that good!
Higashi Chaya District is one of the geisha districts in Kanazawa. Here you can see the interior of a geisha house and enter traditional wooden buildings as some have been refurbished into restaurants. While in the city, stroll around the samurai district and Kenrokune Garden as well.
Kurashiki is a city in Okayama Prefecture. Part of the town called Bikan Historical Quarter is a beautifully preserved area from the Edo Period with traditional Japanese architecture and willow tress lining the banks of the canal. This picturesque place is well worth a visit.
Look at the colours of the kimono/yukata, beautiful! You can rent this Japanese traditional dress for a day, walk around, find some great spots in the city and pose for a few photos.
It was great to see these unique snow monkeys, they are native to Japan and you can visit them in Nagano.
Mt Fuji, Honshu
What a view! We took a train from Tokyo and went to Gotemba, perfect place for a breathtaking view of the volcano.
Tokyo was our last stop before flying back home. It’s a huge city and you can wander around for days. We liked it but definitely preferred smaller cities.
We had such a great time and I can’t wait to go there again. Next time it will be a trip to Hokaido!
Have you been in Japan? What did you like the most? Comment below and let me know about your trip!