I have tried to blog from Japan, and it was just not working out very well. It was too hard to do it from my Ipad, and it’s a pity, because it would have been nice to keep a travel log while there.
Instead, I’ll publish our photos and writings about Japan in different posts, now that we’re back. I’ll write in English, and I’ll try to post photos taken by both of us. Today, since Andreas is in Jutland and I’m about to travel as well, I’ll start with a “summary” type of post with just few of my photos :-). More to come later on. But let’s begin!
This is what happen to you if you spend too much time in Tokyo!! Or if you use a photo booth in a Japanese arcade. They are pretty sci-fi! Tokyo was the first city we visited. We arrived with a direct SAS flight from Copenhagen – flying direct is a little more expensive but definitely worth it! The flight was 11 hours, but very comfortable. They even served us hot green tea and cold Oolong tea, pure Japanese style….maybe because our flight was 99% Japanese people onboard :-)
You need at least a week in Tokyo to visit all the “must see” things and to have some time for shopping and just relaxing. Or at least you need not be jet-lagged and you should really try to get up earlier than 11 am (ops!). It was hard….The good news is if you come from the US then you’re up at 6 am! From Europe you are fresher late at night…which is also cool, especially in such a crazy city.
Above you can see some photos from Tokyo. Japan is the land of contrasts, and that alone makes it a wonderful holiday destination. As our Lonely Planet guide aptly puts it: “Japan is a world apart – a wonderful little planet floating off the coast of China. It is a kind of cultural Galapagos (…) Even today, the world struggles to categories Japan: is it the world’s most advanced technological civilization, or a bastion of traditional Asian culture? (…) There are no easy answers, but there is plenty of pleasure to be had in looking for them”. And they are right. Japan is fun, every single day, every single minute. The food is amazing, the shopping is insane (in any sense), the temples, the nature, the cities….I mean, I don’t even know where to start! In a nutshell: book your flight now, what are you waiting for?! Also, we didn’t think it was too expensive. Actually it was not expensive, especially if compared to Denmark. Everything was cheaper there :-) Tokyo can be cheaper than many European cities for food, drinks, museums, shopping. And you can totally do it on a budget! Even without staying in a capsule hotel. Enough words, more photos from Tokyo!
Ok, one thing that is more expensive in Tokyo is a square watermelon. It was about 90 euros…but the practicality of it!! The bento box that you see here (in the 4th frame) was about 8 euros at the train station. The fancy lunch at the Edo Tokyo museum, including sashimi, tempura, rice, pickles, meatballs, rice and miso soup (1st frame) was I think 15 euros, in a fancy cafè overlooking the city. At Seven Eleven you can buy onigiri (rice balls) for 1 euros, and sushi for like 2 to 6 euros. An energy drink or a cold green tea from a vending machine (they are everywhere) is like 1 euro 50 cents.
Next stop was Kyoto, a big city which has tons of old temples and shrines, beautiful bamboo forests, awesome shopping and dining. Here some photos!
In Kyoto you see definitely more tourists than in Tokyo. But since summer in Japan is extremely HOT (36-38 degrees celsius were our daily average), there were fewer tourists than usual. It was pleasant to visit the shrines and temples with not too many people around. Unless you mind the heat of course :-) I have low blood pressure and usually hot weather bothers me, but this time I had no problems at all. I used an umbrella in the sun, like Asian women do, and kept drinking lots of water and energy drinks. And the heat gives you a good excuse to eat ice cream all the time :-) But food will be the topic of another post…
Next we went to Nara, of which I will post some photos later – for lack of time now and because I want to pick from Andreas’ selection as well. After Nara we went to Hiroshima. It was a deeply moving experience. Here you can see the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima:
And above there’s a shot of the origami paper cranes left in memory of Sadako Sasaki, the Hiroshima girl who died at age 12 from leukemia after the bombing.
Personally I think that a trip to Japan should include a stop in Hiroshima. It is a really beautiful city, I’d love to go back there and explore the area a bit more. We will post more photos from Hiroshima as well, once Ando is back and I can get some of his photos too. I took hundreds of photos in Japan…so I also need more time for a proper edit :-).
We spent the last night in crazy Shibuya! Before I close this “summary” post I’d like to write down a couple of links to the hotels we stayed at, they were all good choices – especially the Grand Fresa Akasaka. Cheap and classy, with an amazingly comfortable bed, and in the business district. The only con was the really tiny size of the room, but that’s how it is in Japan! We booked our trip with Expedia. These are the places we stayed at:
– Tokyo (Akasaka): Grand Fresa Akasaka. 3 stars, renovated in November 2011, it has a boutique hotel feeling and the staff is really nice. They give you free water bottles every day as a gift (perhaps for people afraid of the Fukushima radiations?). The hotel is close to the amazing Biz Tower! A high rise building with lots of restaurants: our fav was Do-Zo, cheap and delicious noodles. There’s also an Illy Cafè called Espressamente, so good!
– Kyoto: Best Western Hotel Kyoto. 3 stars. Recently renovated, really fancy rooms – also on the small side. In the center of Kyoto.
And the last night we got a fancy 4 stars hotel in Shibuya, the Shibuya Granbell Hotel. Even in a 4 stars the rooms are super small :-) It was nice but being in Shibuya is way too overwhelming, after a day&night in crazy Tokyo is nice to go back to a quiet neighborhood like Akasaka, or perhaps Ueno.
That’s all for now, in few hours I’m off to Italy! See you on this blog in a week and happy holidays!