Japan

Temples, kimonos, paper cranes, cherry blossoms and geikos.  These are the images of Japan I have carried with me since I was a little girl, helped along by Eleanor Coerran’s Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and the various Japanese TV shows of my childhood.  

A few years ago, I got to experience the Japan of my dreams first hand.  And although I only had a week to spend there, it was a magical experience.  I can’t wait to go back!

This is Japan through my lens.

ITINERARY

Day 1: Sydney, Australia → Tokyo

Day 2: Tokyo

Day 3: Mt Fuji day trip – cancelled due to a typhoon so we spent the day in the hotel intead

Day 4: Tokyo → Kyoto via shinkansen (bullet train)

Day 5: Hiroshima and Miyajima day trip

Day 6: Kyoto

Day 7: Kyoto

Day 8: Kyoto →Tokyo Airport via shinkansen → Sydney, Australia.

This was a private, self-funded, tailor-made tour through Wendy Wu Tours.  You can find similar itineraries here.

BEST TIME TO GO

It really depends on what you want to experience but in general, April (sakura season) and October – November are considered the best times to go.  We went in October and were able to see the stunning autumnal colours.  We also got to experience the joys of Typhoon Phanfone as it passed over Tokyo.  Typhoon season reaches it’s peak in August and September.

GETTING AROUND

Getting around Japan is relatively easy once you work out a few details.  The best way to get around most cities is by using the subway system, whilst above ground trains (including the shinkansen) are the best way to travel between cities.  Taxis are slower due to traffic congestion, and in Tokyo they are prohibitively expensive.

To use the subway system, you will need to buy an electronic fare card called an IC card. Suica is the most widely used card, but some areas of Japan use other brands so check beforehand.  You can purchase these cards from vending machines at the station (the instructions are in English) or from the ticketing office.  Simply top up with cash, tap against the electronic readers at the station before you enter and exit the station, and you’re good to go!  To work out which train to take or what station to disembark at, download the free apps onto your phone – I used Tokyo Subway Navigation and Kyoto Metro Map.  You just enter your origin and destination, and the app tells you which station to get off at. It even helps you exit the station on the right side of the road! Stations in Tokyo and Kyoto have English signage alongside Japanese (particularly for tourist attractions), but if you do get lost, people are very happy to help.

To travel on the shinkansen and other above ground trains, you will need a Japan Rail (JR) Pass, which you should buy in Australia before you arrive in Japan.  You will also need to activate your pass at a JR office prior to using it for the first time.  Shinkansen tickets need to be booked in advance.

© 2017 Sunshine and Gelato

 

 

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