A Travellerspoint blog

Essential Honshu

Japan introduction

View Japan, Essential Honshu tour 2013 on ToonSarah's travel map.

My Japan

The scent of incense rising before a shrine, and the rattle of fortune sticks as a backdrop ...

In Kyoto - shrine at Kinkaku-ji Temple

The fall colours in the hills around Kyoto and the mountains of Kamikochi ...

Autumn leaves, Kamikochi

The serenity of a temple garden even among the crowds ...

Garden at Tenryu-ji, Kyoto

The simplicity of each room in a merchant’s house in Takayama ...

Yoshijima-ke, Takayama

The time taken out of a busy day to extend the courtesy of a bow and to wait patiently in line ...

On Chawan-zaka, Kyoto

The care taken to ensure that everything, from a gift box to a manhole cover, is as beautiful as it can possibly be ...

Manhole cover, Matsumoto

A tasty morsel of sushi or bowl of steaming soba noodles ...

Sashimi at Nishi-itoya Sanso, Kamikochi

The bright neon-lit nights of Shinjuku and Osaka.

Shinjuku at night, Tokyo

That was my Japan

Tour leader Andrew on the train to Kyoto,
always ready with his map

As this was our first visit to Japan, and not speaking the language, we decided to take a tour. But we don't like to be too ‘shepherded’, so the tours offered by Inside Japan, with lots of flexibility to do your own thing on many of the days, seemed the ideal choice. We were really happy with all aspects of the tour, and with our own independent explorations. Our tour leader Andrew was very knowledgeable, very well-organised and, most important, great company. We had a very congenial group of travelling companions and the whole atmosphere was relaxed and easy-going, despite the intensity of packing so much into such a short trip. No one was pressured to join in and do things with the group, but we often chose to do so even when meals and tours were optional. I would say that even for those who would normally prefer to travel independently, the flexibility of an Inside Japan tour makes it an option worth considering, especially if time is short.

We opted for the Essential Honshu tour which looked like a good introduction to the country and which included Kyoto, top of my must-see list, and of course Tokyo, top of Chris's. The other destinations included on the tour are Hakone, Osaka, Takayama and Kamikochi.

And to give ourselves a small taste of travelling independently in Japan, we chose to add on a couple of extra nights in Tokyo, either side of a two night trip to Nikko. Inside Japan made these arrangements for us but we travelled alone.

This blog is a retrospective look at a trip from some years ago (in 2013) and based on what I wrote at the time for Virtual Tourist.

Posted by ToonSarah 01:03 Archived in Japan

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Yes, I remember this from VT. I'm glad to see you are getting it back online.

by Nemorino

Thanks Don - lots of pages to follow ;)

by ToonSarah

Great photography as usual!


Thanks Sarah .. a wonderful tease....
Can't wait to refresh my memory on the rest of your trip. I recall you Japan pages as being some of your best from my perspective.

by Wabat

Thank you Adam and Albert :)

You may be right about these pages Albert - I often found that the best trips inspired me to work harder in reporting them for VT and this was one of the best!

by ToonSarah

That is QUITE a manhole cover! Looking forward to the remainder of this blog. Beautiful photos.

by Beausoleil

Lots more manhole covers to come Sally ;) And thank you for the nice comment about my photos - Japan is SO photogenic!!

by ToonSarah

Japan is our favourite Asian country; your blog brings back memories.

by irenevt

Glad to be bringing back good memories for you Irene :)

by ToonSarah

Looks like fall is a great time to visit. Love the change in season

by Blueskyjohn

It is John - considered second only to cherry blossom time, and a lot less crowded!

by ToonSarah

I'm all about less crowds!

by Blueskyjohn

so awesome! I must say, that everything I read is still on my to do list and Japan is one of them. I am so curious to know of you liked it! :)

by Ils1976

Thanks Ils - you will find as you read that I liked it very much!!

by ToonSarah

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