As an avid maker of lists, Japan was a country that hadn’t crossed my mind for travel destinations till 2017. But recent Scoot (read budget) priced tickets combined with raving reviews by so many friends, we booked our year-end trip to Japan one Wednesday night. So glad we did , because Japan exceeded our expectations.
As vegetarian travellers, one of the surprising take-away was Japanese cuisine. Love its flavour and I think the courteous service combined with immaculate preparation has something to do with it.
Highlights of the trip include:
- Fell in love with trees on fire at 5 Celsius (autumn!)
- Learnt to Ski!
- Rode the Shinkansen – fastest bullet train in the world
- Fantastic Day long bike tour around Tokyo
- Learnt some Japanese , Hai!
- Went back to being a kid at Disney Land!
On to our journey..
Enroute Bangkok , we arrived at Narita International Airport at 8 am in the morning. Famished and thirsty (mental note: always fill up water before flight), we quickly recharged in a familiar Coco Ichibaniya and proceeded to get a Keisei Skyliner train ticket to the city. Airport to city takes only 20 min by this route! We arrived at our destination at Shinjuku and man it was chilly! But oh so beautiful, yellow trees 🙂
We checked into our Airbnb (TCA Short Stay – very good) , and proceeded to explore the area. Being winter, sun sets around 3.30 pm, so we had just about time to visit the Shinjuku Goen Gardens and take a walk around the city after sunset.
First meal in Tokyo – Veggie Japanese curry at Coco
Had to try Sake – Japanese Rice Wine
These Payphones are everywhere!!
Japanese and their love for Karaoke and Drinking!
Shinjuku Gardens – took my breath away! Lots of beautiful shades and we even saw a lonesome pretty cherry blossom 🙂
After a refreshing dinner and walk, we retired for the night early!
The next day saw us working out through a bike tour around the city.
Turned out it was just the two of us that day with the tour guide, so we could do the tour at our own pace with more stops wherever we wanted. We managed to cover around 10-15 places with our knowledgeable guide.
Some pictures from the tour :
The Route and the places covered are here: https://www.tokyocycling.jp/route-c/
Slide show with captions –
It was time to say hello to Fuji-san! So we were up at the crack of dawn to catch our Japanican tour bus to Mt.Fuji and Hakone. Our guide was a singing tour guide , so it was fair to say we were well-entertained throughout the trip. And how much energy and positive attitude- I learnt so much about Japan in that bus!
We stopped at Mt.Fuji third station (couldn’t go to the top due to possibility of landslide), Ninja Restaurant , Lake Ashi Cruise, Hakone and Ropeway for Fuji View.
Slide show with captions –
Next day we took the Shinkansen to Kyoto . Colder than Tokyo, but it warmed our hearts with its pretty small town feel and culture. We checked into our hostel , refreshed and proceeded to Kyoto city center in the town bus. We had a great dinner at the Cafe Matsuontoko (Vegan). Lots of street shopping – just walking around the place is a treat for the soul!
First Shinkansen ride –
Kyoto Night Slide show with captions –
Day 5 –
Day 5 was the best day in Japan! We were up early morning, had an amazing breakfast in hostel and got our tourist hats on to explore this beautiful city. Some selected pictures for posterity 🙂
Places we covered – Arashiyama, Nijo-jo castle, Ginkakuji, kinkakuji, Kiyomizu Dera
In the evening, we came back to hostel and had a lovely pizza dinner and wine (perfect for cold weather!)
We took the morning train to Osaka from Kyoto, visited Osaka castle , had the best curry and visited Science Museum (all in Japanese :P) A tad laid back compared to our previous days but we still amused ourselves and had a blast 🙂
At the end of the day, we caught the bullet train back to Tokyo. We checked into a hostel called Bunka. Situated in the middle of Asakusa – a happening area, we had a buzzling night life at this place!
First Saturday in Tokyo, we decided to pay a visit to a dear colleague-friend and his family. We got to know the lives of Indians in Japan, went to a Shinto-Buddhist temple, had a homely lunch and visited the nearby zoo – a cute Saturday to say the least!
Yes – its snow time!! We went to Gala-Yuzawa – a straight JR ride away – very few Ski resorts are this easily accesssible!
We rented our boots, ski jackets, gloves, ski equipment , went up the cable lift in long strides (ski boots demand that from you) and learnt how to ride my long lost love – beautiful droplets of powder snow. After some training exercises and falling down 3 times, I finally learnt how to ski!! Yippie ! Thanks instructor-san! We then lost track of time, forgot we hadn’t eaten, took down the ski lift just when it was about to close and ravenously gobbled up cup noodles. It was all worth it 🙂
Its time to go back to your roots – Disney land! The kiddo world came alive to us – albeit in Japanese dialogues. But it was great to don mickey hats, eat icecream off your hands and watch your old pals try to amuse you with their ever-funny antics.
Pro-tip – Download disney tokyo app and check out queue times! Very useful to reduce time spent on queuing when you could be riding a carousel or a car! Or experience Star Wars Galactica!
Warning – Disney is indeed the happiest place on earth! Watch at your own risk 😛
Day 10 was already there! Time just flew by and it was time to say Sayonara to Japan!
Arigato Gozaimasu (thank you) for being so awesome, beautiful and kind to us! We will be back!
Some tips and tricks for your Japan tours – coming up soon, stay tuned!