Kyoto has so many shrines & temples, where do you even start?
There’s no way you can see them all in a short visit (I haven’t come close even after many visits and living there for over a year), and if you tried you’d soon find yourself suffering from a bad case of temple fatigue.
If it’s your first few days in Tokyo, chances are you have a to-do list including the usual spots like Asakusa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Meiji Shrine. But how about if you’ve done all that before? If that’s the case, here are a few random ideas for some cool stuff to do or places to check out in Tokyo –
Tokyo’s quite an amazing city for shopping – if you’re looking for electronics, home furnishings, toiletries, medicine, beauty products, luggage, clothes, etc, you can find them all over the city; the myriad department stores and big chains like Uniqlo, BIC Camera, and Donki Hotei make it easy to find whatever you’re looking for.
Having never seen an episode, I know very little about Gundam other than that it’s a classic Japanese anime about giant mecha robots defending the Earth, or something like that – I’m more of an Evangelion fan, though to be fair that could be described the exact same way!
Seeing the cherry blossoms in spring probably tops the wishlist for most travellers visiting Tokyo, but an equally awesome time to visit the Japanese capital is during the autumn colours (the Japanese word is koyo, 紅葉, literally ‘red leaves’). The cherry trees are first (and least spectacular),
Seeing the spring cherry blossoms in Kyoto is on many a bucket list, but an equally awesome time to visit the city is during the autumn colours (the Japanese word is koyo, 紅葉, lit. red leaves). The cherry trees go first, starting in mid-October, and by November the hillsides are mottled with varying shades and colours;
When visiting the incredible Fushimi Inari shrine in southern Kyoto for the first time, there are too many routes to check them all out; most visitors simply follow part or all of the main trail up, and perhaps the loop trail around the summit of the mountain. And if that’s what you do,
Fushimi Inari is hands down my favourite place in Kyoto, and my favourite place in Japan that isn’t a ski resort! When I first lived in Kyoto, my apartment was between Fushimi Inari and Tofukuji Temple, near one of the back routes up Mt Inari – and what a back garden Fushimi Inari makes.
I first came across this lovely video montage of Tokyo cityscape footage set to the mournful tones of the Blade Runner score while writing this post about Ghost In The Shell; with the Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049, about to be released, the gods of the Youtube algorithm just (perhaps not so) randomly served it up again as part of my morning Youtube spiral (recommend hitting play and listening while you read):
Hokkaido’s remote Shiretoko Peninsula in the far northeastern corner of Japan was a place I’d wanted to go ever since I spent a ski season in Sapporo. At the time I’d made a trip out that way to Abashiri (famous for its once-notorious prison) and taken an ice-breaker cruise out on the frozen Sea of Okhotsk,
So, the JR Pass; man, how I always looked on with envy at all the tourists (including family & friends when they visited) just breezing through the Shinkansen gates, flashing their JR Passes like a wave of a wand, to be whisked away here, there, and everywhere at high speed on Japan’s iconic bullet trains.
As a former resident of Japan who moved to Taipei, it was fascinating to see the Japanese influence on this originally Chinese culture, Taiwan having been colonised by the Qing Empire in the late 1600s and then the Japanese Empire for 50 years from 1895 to 1945;
So the other week I had one of those travel days where everything fucks up – and it was mostly my own fault. I’d done the JR Beetle hydrofoil trip between Busan (South Korea) and Fukuoka (Japan) several times before,
Hokkaido’s powder is legendary, and the larger resorts like Niseko and Furano have been popular for years now with international powder hounds, especially those from Australia and New Zealand (what with the opposite hemisphere seasons and the lack of jet lag involved between there and Japan).
Tetsugaku-no-michi, the Philosopher’s Path, is a pretty 2km path alongside a canal in northeast Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan. It’s named for the early-20th Century philosopher Kitaro Nishida, who used to stroll along it in quiet contemplation on his way to work at Kyoto University.
If it’s your first time in Japan‘s capital and you want to get straight to the heart of the action, try this walking route through Shinjuku (from Tochomae Station to Shinjuku Sanchome Station) taking in skyscraper city views, atmospheric old-time alleyways, and a glimpse of the city’s seedy underbelly in the neon-soaked twilight zone of Kabukicho.
Golden Gai (ゴールデン街, Golden Street) is a series of narrow, ramshackle alleyways tucked away in East Shinjuku, a tiny little pocket of Tokyo full of tiny little bars, untouched by the development of the postwar economic miracle that saw most such streets in Japan‘s capital replaced by office towers and shopping developments.