We stayed some days in Kanazawa, a city 150 Km north of Nagoya. We planned on visiting one of Japans most famous gardens and met with our friends from Takayama. In the end, we took a decision which wasn’t made easily.
After staying in the biggest urban region of the world we were interested how the Japanese hinterland feels like. We decided to stay a day in a traditional thatched roof farm house in the village of Ogimachi. On this tour, we experienced an also traditional Ryokan and met new friends on our way.
So far, we’ve been in Tokyo the whole time on our trip. But although Tokyo is versatile and amazing Japan has to offer so much more. Something only found in Japan (and even there only at a few places) are the famous Nihonzaru or “Snow Monkeys”. These monkeys are the most northern living monkey species in the world and the area they inhabit is covered in snow several months a year. They adapted to the harsh conditions and can cope temperatures as low as -20° Celsius. But most notably these monkeys like to bath in hot springs if the weather is to cold, which is unique among monkeys. As we were only some hundred kilometers away and in the right season to see the Snow Monkeys we had to seize this opportunity.
The Meiji Jingu is within a big forest park next to the station Harajuku. It is a peaceful and calm place where people pray for luck and wedding ceremonies are held. The shrine had been built for the souls of the Meiji Emperor and his wife almost one hundred years ago and the forest surrounding it is like a natural grown one with big trees. It is a famous landmark for the Meiji Period which started more or less in 1868, when the Meiji Emperor opened the country for trading with the western countries and lead Japan into a modern age. This shrine seems to me as the biggest homage to one of the most important changes in Japans history. Continue reading “DAY 9: HISTORY MEETS KAWAII”
We didn’t do much on Sunday. Writing, reading, watching tv series. Sometimes you need a day off. Traveling over a long time can be exhausting, because you’ll be confronted with new things everyday and you move a lot from town to town. So we stayed in our flat and literally did nothing. We even had dinner at home. But later in the evening we wanted to go out for a walk and ended up in a small district called “Golden Gai”. A friend gave us the tip to go there. We didn’t know what we could expect and were surprised to find a small area with very small bars on the first and second floor within very small houses in narrow streets. We found a Whisky bar where almost only Japanese Whiskys were served. “Bar Asyl” was the name. And the owner Abe-chan welcomed us very friendly. Continue reading “DAYS 6 – 8: RAIN AND HANGOVER”
Our days in Akihabara were intense but short. For the following eleven days we had booked an apartment in Shinjuku, close to the Gyoen Park. This part of Shinjuku is a little bit quieter and not as crowded as the streets surrounding the station.
On our first night we met an old friend of us, who we had last seen 8 years ago. Time goes by so quickly…. We had some beers in a pub in Shibuya and then he took us across the famous crossing to a sushi place, where you order the sushi via iPad and after a few minutes it’s delivered to you automatically. Continue reading “DAYS 3 – 5: GOOD DAYS IN SHINJUKU”
Staying in Akihabara and having our first contact with Tokyo here is overwhelming: Akihabara is the electronic and games district of this immense city and therefor everything is colorful, noisy, jarring and fancy. Neon lights, video screens, shops enlighted in all colors to attract customers, music everywhere (in the shops, at stands of special products) and people outside the shops speaking through a loudspeaker to get attention for their products. The shops we were passing by were filled with electronics, pc games, mangas, technical equipment, mobile phones, pachinko halls (a kind of entertainment we didn’t understand), UFO catchers, etc. Every shop was so heavy packed with stuff that our eyes and brains didn’t know where to look or what to think. So adrenalin took over and we fell into a state of excitement we hadn’t encountered before. We jumped from store to store, from gadget to gadget, laughing, squeaking and being astonished. Continue reading “DAYS 1 – 2: AKIHABARA/SHIMBASHI”
Actually we are in Japan for 79 days. And subtracting the days of arrival and leaving it’s „only“ 77 days we’ll spend here. But that are almost 80 days and our plan is to travel from Tokyo to Okinawa, it’s merely through all of Japan. We skip Hokkaido – it’s too cold – and Fukushima. We really wanted to go there, see the abandoned towns and find out how returned people live. But it is difficult: you need permissions which we can’t get and we don’t know anyone from that region we could ask for help. But nevertheless the parts we want to visit have a lot to offer: Traditions, Culture, temples and food. A country so rich of everything, it amazes us at every corner.
We start in Tokyo where we probably will see the famous cherry blossom. It’s predicted to be early this year, so we might be lucky to visit the famous Ueno Park for the blossom. Close to Tokyo is THE mountain: Fuji. When I visited Japan in 2008 I wasn’t able to see Mount Fuji, because it hid behind clouds. Maybe we’ll be lucky this year.
Where we’re going to go after Tokyo isn’t decided yet. Maybe Nagano or Nagoya. But then we’ll follow the route to Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Okinawa and whatever is in-between or beyond. The last two weeks are planned to be spend in Nara, where we’ll meet Torbens Sojutsu-Trainer and they are going to train with their teacher.
Months full of adventures are awaiting us: The Japanese are so different and so similar to us in the same time, we hardly speak the language but are learning constantly and not to mention the rules of behavior we try to learn as best as possible. But all of that is a wonderful experience we are so happy to make. So let’s find out, what will happen!