03.10.2013 - 04.10.2013
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 ...
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
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.