[J]apan, an alternate 2-weeks

I shared my first trip to Japan (2014) with two friends who were teaching English in South Korea, plus another who was living in Japan at the time. The trip consisted of Kyoto, Nagasaki & Shimabara, with brief glimpses of Fukuoka & Kumamoto as we moved around during the 8 days we had.

The second time I alighted on Japanese ground (2015), it was part of my 81 day trip from China to South Africa. It is from this trip that I wish to share the below.

What you will find is that I prize many experiences which don’t always make the top to-do lists out there. I hope you will find these as enlightening as they were to me.

  • Entry: Busan, South Korea – Fukuoka, Japan
  • Exit: Tokyo Airport (South) – Taipei, Taiwan
  • Duration: 16 days
  • Spent: ~1’180 USD (including exit flight, JR pass, visa, etc)
japan map
Route Followed (as closely resembled as possible)
  • Highlights (chronological order):

#1 Arrival via Overnight Ferry

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Arriving via overnight ferry from Busan, South Korea. Although we spent a lot of time in port, myself and an older guitarist had a blast singing loudly in the public area. It was my first and last international travel by sea to date.

#2 Hiroshima

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First big stop, Hiroshima. The Peace Memorial Park is well worth the visit, so put time aside and experience the lessons it teaches. The museum in Nagasaki is equally impressive, however less based on architecture and more the detailed Japanese timeline it has.

#3 Miyajima

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A small side tour to Miyajima was in order, a lesser known and harder to find icon of Japan. The island holds a tiny town also, which offered a surreal experience to walk through during dusk, on the way to catch the last ferry back to the main island.

#4 Nara

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Nara, with the cutest children-deer combination ever seen. While walking through the main park areas, I happened upon a dirt road leading into the forests behind. It took me up to a spectacular view of the town below, as well as a lovely jog back around and out.

#5 Japanese hospitality & food

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I met a lady on a train, we started a conversation, I shared that my biggest point was finding accommodation for the following night. Unbelievably for me I was with her, at an ex-colleagues home, cooking sukiyaki and drinking up a storm the next night! Best people!

#6 Kyoto

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After a day alone in Kyoto (mostly on the eastern end of town walking north to south), I was back again to meet friends for a hike of Kurama Mountain (to the north). We even got to take a tram ride from the more central areas to get there, and it was a gorgeous trail!

#7 Shirahama

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Shirahama beach, a local Wakayama prefecture favourite. Not only is the beach sand soft and the water warm, but Shirahama has a one-of-a-kind onsen. The onsen pools are built onto the rocks, giving you an unparalleled naked experience (no photos).

#8 Kumano Kodo

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Komano Kodo is an amazing hiking trail, technically a collection of smaller trails which join together to create this ancient pilgrimage route. I made some friends and we spent 2 days hiking through lush valleys and rocky hilltops – each day ending in hot spring-water.

#9 Karate practice

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After the days of hiking, I was in Katsuura on my way to the public bathhouse in town. Curiosity led to joining the Karate practice at the neighbouring dojo, where I was shown I can effectively defend myself against a <7-year-old at most.

#10 Tokyo Airbnb

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Blendia is an Airbnb run by a friend in Tokyo (that’s him on the left). Apart from being incredibly welcoming & warm, he keeps his home filled with friendly faces. I went back once or twice even after leaving, and each evening offered new conversations and faces.

As you can see many of the best moments of my time involved people and nature, often in unconventional or unplanned manners. Frequently I found new treasures by simply walking past the normal sights and taking a look behind them. I hope you may take this lesson to heart in your own travel plans.

  • Let me know what you think of this format for covering a journey. We are still playing around with a few ideas of what may work best, so your input would be highly valued.
  • Going to Japan soon? I’m hoping to visit again end 2016, tell me where you’ll go.

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This is part of my A to Z Challenge 2016, click the button at the bottom of the site for more information if you like.

 

 

 

 

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