Amazing time just back from a week in Japan, having spent time in both Tokyo and Kyoto.
It’s a long way and they are 8 hours ahead, but the destination lives up to the hype for sure a mixture of culture, tastes, history and scenery.
First thing to mention is book early the Chinese, Koreans and Taiwanese are travelling more than ever before, already hotels for cherry blossom 2016 are getting full. The summers will be hot and humid but autumn is a great time to visit with the changing colours.
Hotels come in all shapes and sizes from 4*& 5* to good 3* and Ryokan hotels (these come in both modern and traditional) for an authentic visit, which can be encompassed into a tailor made tour.
A city tour in Tokyo is a great idea to see all the must see sights such as the Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace, have traditional green tea and sweet bean treats at Hama-rikyu Gardens and visit the famous fish market and street sushi restaurants. Treats can include dried cuttle fish and egg on a stick.
Have to try the underground which is quite easy once you get your head around it and the buses all on time of course, you pay on way out exact change please and there is a change machine on board too. Very efficient the Japanese.
A treat for me was the train ride on the bullet train to Kyoto it doesn’t feel like you are moving but speeds up to 200 mph and the journey takes only just over 2 hours. If you get a seat on the right side you have a chance to see Mt Fuji if you don’t have time to visit.
Eating is certainly interesting in Japan lots of English explanations and picture food can be found or you can just chance it with some traditional Japanese fair and sake. You can eat anything from curry ( hamburger curry!) to pizza, Mexican or Chinese and some restaurants you pay via a vending machine on entry! Be warned prices can be expensive dependent on quantities of food and drink but you would need approx min £25 for a meal and a drink on average so just need shop around. Beer normally anything from £ 5-8
Some restaurants have smoking areas as do majority of bars so be warned.
In Kyoto has a more laid back feel with plenty of opportunities to spot maiko and geiko’s ( geisha) girls walking around the Gion district, some genuine some not. You can dress like a geiko for a day if you had the urge plus make up included, I declined. Other high spots in Kyoto include Bamboo grove, the Nijo Castle, Golden Palace and Ginkakuji Temple.
If you’re planning on a visit to Japan do so sooner and book early, would suggest at least 12-14 days guided or part guided tours are a ideal way and ensure have your guide meet you on arrival.
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