NARA: We arrived in Osaka late at night and after a light meal it was off to bed. The next day we were off to Nara via the fabulous rail network and our first experience of Japanese culture was at the station where the cleanliness and the efficiency of the people was obvious everywhere.
The Hotel we stayed at was a 19th century English Hotel and was in Japanese style. we wandered the temples and were amazed at the extent of the temple complexes and the massive pagodas and huge wooden temples that house the massive Buddha’s, truly amazing to see.
The temple complex was huge and there were delightful nooks and crannies in the foothills with shrines, gardens and ponds in abundance.
The standing stone shrines to the deadly departed provided stunning pathways that led to more and more stunning buildings
TOKYO: On our way back from Spain we met Amy in Tokyo and set off on another adventure first stop Ginza and its bright lights
Electric City, Akihabara district was our first stop off from the Yamonote line that circles the main Tokyo cities and apart from the sea of black haired heads it was the crazy electrical stores that went on forever.
We then stopped off at Ueno Park and experienced a Fire Brigade parade which was very amusing. The Park was lovely and the temples very delicate and small.
Our Hotel Park was right in the newly created sub city of Shiodome near Shimbashi station and the overhead walk ways linked all the buildings so it was like a seperate world just one level up out in the open whilst underground a similar system operated through the subway shopping system.
We had a fabulous dinner out in the Harajuku district at new restaurant in the stunning new Omotesando Hills centre and wandered around the streets with their amazing designer shops.
Getting out and about was exciting as every turn revealed another side of this incredible city.
Where can you start to describe the amazing city of Kyoto? Once the royal city it is now a tourist mega but it still retains its imperial charm and majesty as well its spiritual homeland feel. The shrine and temple complexes that line the foothills along with the majestic timber Pagodas and main temples near the imperial palaces and castles in downtown Kyoto are some of the best in Japan and if there was one city that encompassed all of Japan in my view, it is Kyoto.
The shrines are so numerous and can be identified by their red colour so are mostly Shinto based
The streets and lanes feed to the shrines and temples with merchants set up lining the way and of course there are the actors dressed up in traditional geisha gear.
The Japanese love their gaming and gambling and this KING is the biggest of them all
One of our best days was spent in the imperial Nijo castle with its stunning metal and timber work along with the intricate building style and the amazing nightingale floors.
we loved the crazy advertising as only the Japanese can do. And when it comes to architecture and design there is not much that can match the stunning Kyoto station for sheer audacity.
The temples are just too numerous to name here and we just kept discovering more and more delights and so many close to our base near Gion.
The foothills are alive to the sound of monks chanting and with sights like this along the trails it was easy to get immersed in the atmosphere.
The stroll along The Philosophers walk was a must do in Kyoto as it winds its way along the little canals and constantly opens up to more discoveries with shines, gardens and little temples dotting the way
we have fallen in love with this place and it is scenes like these with their delicate intrusion into nature that sets Japan apart from anywhere else we have been
And i have not mentioned the food but we believe we could love on japanese food forever and never feel like we were missing out on anything
Kyoto has a very vibrant Nightlife with copious little bars and restaurants especially along the river to keep us well amused at night. we also love the VIP moss
The Golden Temple is one of the most popular and it is easy to see why, a unique and amazing piece of history in the most delightful of settings.
The classic Japanese pose
there were school groups everywhere and lots of photo requests.
We got interviewed for Janaese television in Gion one night which very funny
Did i mention the food…..
HAKONE: We caught the train from Kyoto to Odawara to then get another train for a short ride to Hakone. We caught a taxi to our Onsen Hotel Hoeiso and settled into our very spacious room ready for the next part of our Japanese adventure.
We had a great meal in our room and then decked ourselves out in the Kimino’s supplied to prepare for our hot pond experience. The setting down by the Sukumo river greeted us with plenty of Wow’s. The steam coming from the ponds and the river flowing by right next to the pond was enhanced by the arrival of swarms of fireflies which lit up the night in a stunning g fashion.
Our next day was spent on Lake Ashi after a short bus ride up the mountain from Hakone to the lakeside Hakone Pirate boat jetty. the lake was picture of vivid green forested hillsides and pristine clear waters. We got a tourist boat for a cruise around the lake and then took a Ropeway (cable car) to the sulphur geothermal fields at Owakudani and then onto Gora park before returning to the hotel by bus. the sulphur fields smelt so bad we were glad to get out of there but the lake was stunning.
We had another in room dining experience before a lovely hot spring session on our last night and then prepared for our homeward journey.