A stay in Japan would be lacking without a decent soak in a hot spring. An escape to an onsen town with an overnight stay in a traditional ryokan with good bathing facilities and a good kaiseki style dinner is, admittedly, an indulgence, but nothing else gives you this Japanese feeling! With limited time and baby in tow, we were looking for a place within two hours from Tokyo with hassle-free access. The Izu peninsula recommended itself through its easy access via the Tokaido Shinkansen and multitude of hot springs. While we had stayed on the sea shore in spring, we chose a place inland this time: Shuzenji Onsen (修善寺温泉), half an hour by local train away from Mishima which is reached by Shinkansen. Mt. Fuji is looming behind as the local train crawls down the Izu peninsula.(more…)
Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
Since we’ve been missing the Japanese hot springs, we’ve gone on a little weekend getaway from Tokyo. The Izu peninsula boasts a variety of generously flowing hot springs. Atami (熱海), only half an hour’s ride by Shinkansen from Tokyo, was our first stop. Its main attraction are definitely its seven hot spring sources. The town lies on the hillside descending down to the ocean, sporting a sun beach and beach front that is lit up at night. Its main products are dried fish of all shapes, citrus fruit, and onsen manju, a Japanese sweet that is traditionally steamed in the steam escaping from the hot springs themselves.(more…)
A while ago I wrote the best-of list of our trips in Japan. And while people are already joking that we’ve been everywhere in Japan, the list of places we’ve not been to is even longer. The picture on the left – our souvenir Gotochi Kitty collection on a map of Japan – shows this well. While the Kanto region is overcrowded with Kitties, the west coast and the North of the country are sadly kittyless. Today, I’ll be sharing with you the list of places I definitely want to visit. These are places I am lead to believe after careful research (yes, I’m constantly organizing an upcoming trip) to be very worth visiting, places I already had a concrete plan to visit. For a variety of reasons, these trips just didn’t happen. But they’re on the to-do list and maybe can give others some ideas where to go. As the map shows, there are many more places I haven’t even gotten around to researching… (more…)
As the regular reader of this blog knows, we made a point of trying to see as much of Japan as we could during our 3-year stay. Even though there are so many places worth visiting that we didn’t make it to, here’s my best-of list of the trips we did. Of course, this list is highly subjective, but maybe it can give people looking for someplace to go some ideas.
- Best place ever: Kyoto.
You cannot ever spend too much time in Kyoto. The temples and gardens to see are countless. Even revisiting the same places again during different seasons is beautiful. If you get to spend some time in Japan, go to Kyoto. If you get to spend some more time, go again. Whatever you do, it’s probably going to be great. Kyoto is probably my favorite place in the world.
What I found interesting is that there seem to exist two parallel worlds in Shanghai. One that is very westernized, with high rises, big streets, shiny new shopping malls full of Western brand names, and another, in the narrow back streets, which seems more rustic and authentic. (more…)
Our boat, the Su Zhou Hao was of quite impressive size, but most of its big belly was filled with containers and only the three upper decks were accessible to passengers. The passengers were overwhelmingly young Chinese, then there were a few Japanese and a handful of Westerners. The trip from Osaka to Shanghai takes two full days. At first, the ship follows Honshu through the Inland Sea, then passes between Honshu and Kyushu and follows the Kyushu coast, before crossing the East China Sea (see here for the route). (more…)
Even though we are on our way out of the country, I am excited that we managed to see yet another city we hadn’t seen before: Osaka. Our hotel is in the middle of the bustling Dotonbori entertainment quarter, only minutes on foot away from the famous crab figure and the Glico Man ad. And of course Shochikuza (松竹座), a big theater where we attended a Kabuki performance.(more…)
In the mountains of central Japan is a village which has retained its face of old. Still now, about 150 buildings with reed-thatched roofs remain. The heavy snowfall has forced the villagers to build the roofs very steeply, a shape reminiscent of hands folded in prayer. These Gassho-zukuri buildings are UNESCO World Heritage, and the village goes by the name of Shirakawa-go (白川村). (more…)
After first visiting Matsushima Bay and the floating torii of Miyajima, we finally ticked off the third of Japan’s Three Best Views (Nihon Sankei) from our to-do list: Amanohashidate (天橋立), the bridge through the sky. Or so at least this pine-clad sandbar crossing Miyazu Bay on Japan’s West Coast appears when one looks at it through one’s legs.
The canonical things to do are walking the 3.3km across Amanohashidate to the other side and viewing it from one of the hills on either side. (more…)
This week, we went on what we are calling “our great roundtrip”, attempting to cram in as many sights as possible before leaving the country. We started out on the West coast, in Tottori (鳥取). While the town of Tottori is a little inland and is notable for its hot springs, the main touristic attraction is the giant sand dune on the coast, the Tottori Sakyu. Sloping down into a valley and then rising up steeply, the dune dwarfs the visitors to scrambling ants. You could fancy yourself in the middle of the desert if it weren’t for the blue Japan Sea stretching out below on the other side of the dune. Certainly a striking formation worth a visit.