I’ve visited the amazing Japan in April / May 2017 for just over two weeks (you can read my initial thoughts article here). My friend and I had, as usually, planned a jam packed holiday in order to experience as much as possible. Here are my five highlights to help you make a sound choice for your own adventure:
1. Miyajima Island, near Hiroshima
A short train and ferry from Hiroshima lies the beautiful Miyajima Island, one of the most scenic spot in Japan. To me, it had everything you could potentially experience in Japan in only small island. The island is famous its great Torii gate which is wonderful to photography both at high and low tides.
If you’re after more culture, there are numerous shrines and temples for you to visit as well as the World Heritage Site Istukushima Shrine. For the more adventurous, you can also climb Mount Misen (3 hiking tracks on offer or there is also a ropeway). It was definiltey worth the effort as the view was just magnificient!
2. The Japanese Alps
Visiting the Japanese Alps is not usually on most tourist’s itinerary but it definitely should be as it was an amazing experience, something you won’t find anywhere else in the country.
The Tateyma Kurobe Alpine route is a scenic route in the Northern Japanese Alps using several means of transportation (cablecar, ropeway, trolley bus). The highlight of the journey are the Kurobe Dam as well as the majestic snow wall (up to 6m high!).
You get the opportunity to stop as long as you want in each stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Make sure to dress appropriately depending on which season you visit: when we visited, on the ground it was 26 degrees that day but in the mountain 4 degrees!
3. Himeji Castle
There are many many castles in Japan but Himeji Castle is the most visited and iconic castle in the country. Also known as the White Heron Castle because its white elegant facade, this World Heritage Site was the most spectacular castle we’ve seen during our trip.
The grounds and gardens are very nice to wander around. The interior of the castle are a bit of a let down I thought, unless you’re really into war and history. Being a war fortress, it’s definiltey not your usual castle decor!
If you get a chance to go during the cherry blossom season, it must be mesmerizing!
4. Odaiba Island, Tokyo
Out of all the neighbourdhood I’ve visited in Tokyo; Odaiba Island was surprisingly my favourite.
To get there, I’ve crossed the iconic Rainbow Bridge which is definitely worth the walk simply for the views you get over the whole Tokyo skyline. You can also find a replicate of the Statue of Liberty there.
Arriving in Odaiba, you get a good mix of entertainment area, beach, mini theme parks. On the day I have visited, there was also a couple of festivals so I believe this has really helped me truly appreciate the atmosphere in this part of Tokyo. I’ve also decided to spend a couple of hours in Joypolis, a SEGA indoor arcade, which was really fun for the small geek I am 🙂
5. Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto
This shrine is one of the most visited attraction in Japan so it’s important to carefully choose your time when going, especially if you don’t want people in your pictures like me!
This sanctuary is famous because of its thousand of red torii gates. Even though it was busy when we visited, I still really enjoyed the beauty of the sites. You can also do a hike to the top of the mountain with amazing views over Kyoto.
I can safely say that Japan really has been a brilliant surprise. I never thought I would fell in love with this country as much as I did, I hope to be back one day!
Have you been to Japan? What has been your highlights?