Where the freshest sushi is created, where Mount Fuji stands tall, where snowboarders cut the finest powder and where you’ll find quirky fashion statements around every corner.
Japan has always been a dream of mine, an obsession with this intriguing country has developed quickly over the years. So when a friend got in touch and asked if I wanted to join her in Japan, how could I say no?
Good to know:
- Japan is very expensive!
- You will find it hard to come by good English or somebody that understands you but the Japanese are very generous and will try to help you in every way that they can
- 1 British pound = 147.38 Japanese Yen
- Access to WiFi is really good
- Eat the traditional food, that’s an order!
I stayed in ‘IRORI Hostel’ which was around an 8 minute walk from the metro station. As I breached the surface of the underground I felt a rush of ice cold air greet my face as I found myself surrounded by a wall of towering buildings. Even though Tokyo is a capital city, at 1:30am it was deadly silent that it was almost deafening. I used my maps.me app to guide myself. As I was walking a kind man saw me in my backpacking attire and immediately asked if I needed help finding my hostel. He kindly looked it up on his phone and escorted me to the door, told me to enjoy my experience in Tokyo and carried on walking home. This is just one example of how kind the Japanese people are.
With 2 hours sleep I woke up at 7am to explore the world’s biggest fish market, Tsukiji Fish Market. I bought a travel card (similar to London’s Oyster card) where I loaded around 2,000 Yen so I didn’t have to buy single tickets for every trip.
I meandered through the never ending rows of fresh fish being cut, beheaded, skinned and packed before my very eyes. Men work hard from the early hours of the morning to sell fish coming in many shapes and sizes.
Something smells a little bit fishy, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s the smell of my clothes. After exploring, me and my friend Hannah sat down in a tiny sushi restaurant where we waited for around 40 minutes to taste the freshest sushi I’ve ever eaten. I’m more of a macci girl but I still enjoyed the experience of trying the different kinds of sushi – for breakfast!
We then ventured out into Shibuya but only for a few hours until we crashed; returning back to our hostel for a well deserved nap before heading out to explore Tokyo at night.
We spent the next afternoon browsing through racks of the coolest vintage clothes until that sharp feeling in the pit of our stomachs yelled out. We tried our first Japanese ramen in a cute restaurant to which we don’t even know the name of because everything in this area was written in Japanese!
More from the area of Shibuya and the famous Shibuya crossing…
Girl, just call me Beyoncé.
Do not miss the chance to sing your heart out whether you chose to go alone or with some friends. The Japanese love to sing karaoke as a social or solo activity; you can rent a room, order drinks and dress up in crazy outfits. Me and Hannah loved this experience, that’s after we figured out how to work the karaoke machine…
Puppy love! We were obsessed with the fact that you could go to a place where you paid to sit and pay with little dogs just for fun. We went to Dog Heart in Shibuya to play with beagles and a lovely golden retriever, you could also chose an option where you took a dog for a walk but we decided to stay in the warmth for a while.
Our next stop was to go and see the famous Mount Fuji. As we were exploring Japan at a time when it was unlikely that beginner hikers would attempt the climb, we only admired the mountain from a far. We stayed at K’s House Fuji View which I highly recommend as the interior design was a traditional Japanese style with a hot shower, fast WiFi, close to the train/bus station and the beds were that comfy that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning… much to Hannah’s dismay.
So we took a train to Shimoyoshida Station and followed the map to the Churreito Pagoda where we were able to see a view of Mount Fuji from a distance.
Kyoto. We stayed at Grateful Hostel in the area of Kamigyo-ku. From here we ventured into Arashiyama where we strolled through a bamboo forest and took a long walk admiring the beautiful surroundings that brought us to delicious street food and shrines embedded within autumn leaves and flowers.
Gion, a traditional corner home to the Kyoto Traditional Musical Art Foundation ‘Ookini Zaidan‘. Here you can watch a display of traditional Japanese performances such as the Kado (Flower Arrangement), Chado (Tea Ceremony), Kyogen (Ancient Comic Play) and the Kyomai (Kyoto Style Dance).
Feeding time at Chojiro. Eating here was sugoil (awesome)! I had never been to a train sushi restaurant before, even back in England, so experiencing it for the first time in Kyoto was a special treat. I am not the best raw fish eater so I opted for tuna rolls which were absolutely delicious. Dining with touchscreen service also added to the experience.
Oh deer lord! Welcome to Nara, home to hundreds of deer ruling over grass and streets. Myself and Hannah really enjoyed feeding the deer, that’s until a really crazy looking one with hungry eyes chased us around. He/she just ran at people who were holding crackers looking to head-butt them, finding this hilarious we were entertained for a good hour or so in the deer parks.
The Itsukushima Shrine is definitely worth a visit on the island of Itsukushima. I loved wandering around this charming island, it felt like I was walking through time.
Travelling around Japan would not be complete without a visit to Hiroshima. Hiroshima is a city which was impacted hugely by an atomic bomb during World War 2 and left many ruins including the famous Genbaku Dome which shows a spine curling shell still standing. I won’t go into the facts as it’s an unbelievable experience to discover for yourself the many artefacts, true accounts and information panels you’ll find within the museum.
Must try: Okonomiyaki – a delicious Japanese dish consisting of pork, egg, cabbage and soba cooked to perfection on a steaming hot surface in front of you. I love unique dining experiences and this was by far unique for me.
Osaka. Starting in Fukushima we ate in a Japanese restaurant serving handmade green onion and soy sauce Takoyaki which kind of looked like a Yorkshire pudding.
So we fancied a bit of fun, Hannah suggested Universal Studios and so the next thing we knew is that we were leaving our accommodation, Evergreen Hostel, to catch the train to Sakurajima where we waited in line to enter Universal Studios. One of the best days of my travels. Why? Harry Potter World of course!
Thank you for reading, I hope you found this post somewhat interesting and useful.
Love Thy Traveller