Hiroshima: tragedy, rebirth and great food

Hiroshima was the last stop on our Japan trip. It is the largest city in the Chugoku Region on the western front of the Honshu Island. It is largely known for the Atomic bomb that was dropped on it during WW2. Despite this, the city has been rebuilt into a modern city, whilst paying homage to its rich history and is home to million inhabitants.

Hiroshima was one of the highlights of our trip. We visited nearly all the top attractions in a day, without rushing and had some great meals along the way. The sites that we saw included Shukkeien GardenHiroshima CastleHiroshima Peace Memorial ParkHiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Downtown Hiroshima.

 

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North Tokyo: low city and skytree views

North Tokyo is a more mature part of the city, where you can find temples, shrines, gardens, shopping strips, museums and residential neighbourhoods. There was something more authentic about this part of the city. It a great place to stroll and observe and find traditional artisan stores.

We didn’t see many sites in North Tokyo, but we did spend a few hour exploring Asakusa district and Sensoji Temple. From there we walked all the way to the Skytree Sumida City district. The views in the low city are quite spectacular and shouldn’t be missed.

 

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Central Tokyo: fish market, modernity and old world beauty

Although Toyko is a modern metropolis, Japanese traditions and culture are still evident throughout the city. Some of the sites in Central Tokyo where this is apparent are the famous Tsukiji Fish Market and the Tokyo Imperial Palace. To see the high of Japanese modernity you can also find that not far away in the Ginza,  Chiyoda City and Akihabara.

Central Tokyo was one of the few places I felt like I had plenty of room to move. While the population is hard at work you can wonder between skyscrapers or beautiful gardens and experience the contrast between old and new in this amazing city.

We did not visit Central Tokyo in this order, but this section of the city could be done in one day. With the except of Ginza, these are all must do stops when visiting this city.

 

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Western Toyko: Red lights, Robots and Harajuku girls

The next stop on our trip was Tokyo, Japan’s capital and the most popular metropolis in the world. There is just so much to see within this massive city and outsides its borders. It’s one of the most modern cities that I’ve ever seen, yet you can also find pockets of old world Japanese culture. Tokyo was definitely not as clean as previous Japanese cities, but we found it easy to navigate and were spoilt for choice for where to shop and dine.

We allocated two and a half days to explore the city and one day for DisneySea. The following posts on Tokyo are not in order, but have been split up into west, central and north Tokyo. We stayed in Shinjuku, which is on the west side, so I thought I’d start there. The highlights were the nightlife of Kabukichō, the crazy Robot Cabaret, colourful Harajuku and busy Shibuya. The west side was definitely the crazy, eccentric Tokyo that I imagined. We were lucky to just stumble unexpectedly to these sites. They probably aren’t for everyone, but I’m so happy we got to experience the quirky side of the city.

 

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South and East Kyoto: torri gates, temples and geisha dress-up

On our first visit to Kyoto we only saw the central district. So on day 8, our friends took us back to Kyoto to see the some of the sites in the south and the east. It was also our last day with the rest of the wedding party before we diverted to Tokyo. On this day we first visited the shrine Fushimi Inari Taisha in the south. In the afternoon we visited the Higashiyama District and the Gion District in the east. It was here that the I got to experience becoming a geisha and enjoy a Buddhist afternoon tea. This was probably my favourite day of our wedding party tour.

 

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Nara: temples, shrines and friendly deer

Nara is home to some of the oldest and largest temples and shrines in Japan. It is thought to be the birthplace of Japanese culture.  It’s also home to around 1200 roaming deer, which have become symbolic to the city as a national treasure.

Nara is less an hours travel from both Osaka and Kyoto. We visited Nara on day 7 of our trip. We roamed the city centre, walk from Kōfuku-ji temple through Nara Park to Tōdai-Jian temple, and explore Kasuga-Taisha shrine inside the Manyo Botanical Gardens. We ended out day back in Osaka at a 100 yen sushi train.

 

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Central Kyoto: palaces, markets and shabu-shabu

Kyoto is known for being the former capital city of Japan and its numerous shrines and temples. It is only about an hours train ride from Osaka, so it’s a convenient day trip if you’re staying there. There is so much to see and do in this region. We visited over two days, but still only saw a fraction of the sites. On day 6 we visited central Kyoto. The sites we visited were Kyoto Imperial Palace, Nijō Castle, Nishiki Market, and Pontocho.
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3 Days of eating and shopping in Osaka

On our visit to Japan, our first stop was the beautiful city of Osaka. We came for a wedding and spent out first few days eating and drinking and sightseeing within Osaka. We visited the Osaka aquarium and went up to the top of Umeda Sky Building. We also had an interesting experience at the Lock Up Restaurant. Other than that we just indulged in the amazing food. My only wish is that I could have possibly eaten more. What I couldn’t eat I photographed, so going back through our trip is really making me hungry. By day four we still had to fit into our wedding clothes. After the elegant ceremony, we went spoil again with course after course of amazing food. I have included some pictures below of the gorgeous wedding of our dear friends.

Osaka has to be my favourite city that we visited in Japan. The people are extremely friendly and polite. So many times when we were lost, older Japanese people would approach us and try to help, even without knowing English. The streets and facilities were all very clean and the people were dressed very elegantly. The food was probably the best here as well. There are so many things to see and do within the city and also on the outskirts. Check out my following posts to see where else we went.

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DisneySea in Pictures

A couple of years back when I visited Japan I had my first Disney park experience at DisneySea in Toyko. It was the most beautiful theme park I had ever visited and really reanimated my love of Disney.

Unfortunately, we didn’t do any research before our visit, other than how to get there. We didn’t know anything about the park until we turned up. Big mistake, especially since we were visited a park in a non-English speaking country. Other than riding the boat across the harbor and taking the steam train, we only saw one show and went on one ride. When we lined up for the Tower Of Terror we weren’t even sure it was a ride. Nearly 3 hours later we finally got to find out. Ok, it was awesome, but I’m not sure it was worth the wait time. We didn’t get Fastpasses, so I was confused seeing people skip ahead of lines. We also didn’t book a restaurant, so we had a really long wait to get a table in a warm restaurant. We were visiting in November, so it was pretty cold too. I still enjoyed the outdoor day and evening live shows. Fantasmic! still has to be the best Disney evening show at any Disney park we been to so far. We also enjoyed just walking around the different lands and taking it all in. However, had we planned out our day we might have made the most of our visit.

These are some of the photos I took on my visit to DisneySea. I hope to return one day and also visit Disneyland Tokyo. I have also written up a Guide to DisneySea Tokyo, which goes into detail about the rides, shows and character experiences. Stay tuned for my upcoming trip to Disneyland Paris, in next month and a guide to those parks.

 

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