Konnichiwa Japan!

I spent 12 days exploring Japan in it’s autumn months. Although it was my second time in Japan, it was different travelling in a warmer climate and it was awesome experiencing new cities I have not visited before.

It was great catching up with my brother, David and catching up with my old Japanese friends from high school and from exchange in Aarhus, as well as meeting new people from all over the world.

Some of the highlights of the trip are below:


  • This was my second time in Tokyo and I was still so excited to be in this bustling, crazy city!
  • I arrived on Thursday night and from Narita, caught the train to Ueno and headed to my hotel in Shinjuku. I dropped my bags, said a quick hello to David then caught the subway to Ikebukuro to meet Nayui. Her university is located here and she took me to a typical sushi place for locals where I ate a variety of nigiri and sashimi which was good! Although we didn’t spend lots of time together as she was going away, it was so nice to see her again!
  • The next day was spent exploring Tokyo but unfortunately it was rainy so it was a little annoying to get around. David and I went to Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park, Harajuku and walked down Takeshita-dori, Ginza and then headed to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building near Shinjuku Station. It’s free to enter so it’s a great way to see Tokyo from above, however since it was cloudy and rainy, we couldn’t see anything. We did some shopping and then ate dinner in Shinjuku at 35 Steps and had a chilled night.
  • Disneyland Tokyo with Junna – was so lovely to catch up and she was able to guide me around as she has been here more than 50 times. It was Halloween themed and the Japanese love this American tradition! As well as the normal parade (where the Japanese find a good spot to watch it hours before), there was also a special Halloween parade. We went on numerous rides which brought the out inner child in me!
  • On Saturday night, I caught up with Miyu who I hadn’t seen since high school! She took me to this awesome Teppanyaki place in Roppongi where we ate grilled vegetables, seafood, foie gras rice and had sake. We bar hopped and it was hilarious people watching.
  • We had a late udon feed at “Tsurutontan” which was amazing after a few too many drinks.
With Nayui in Ikebukuro
Sake barrels at Meiji Shrine
Shibuya Crossing by night
Shibuya night lights
Disneyland with Junna!
Miyu & I at dinner
  • Hakone is most famous for Mount Fuji but also for its onsen (hot springs) and the beautiful surrounding nature. Hakone can be easily done in a day trip from Tokyo but we decided to stay one night to relax and enjoy the place.
  • With less than 4 hours of sleep from the night before, David and I caught the train from Shinjuku to Odawara and then another local train to Gora and then the Tozan cable car to Naka Gora and dropped our bags off at our hotel. To say I felt terrible was an understatement but I powered through the day.
  • Unfortunately the Hakone Ropeway was closed due to volcanic activity so when we arrived at Sounzan (last stop of the cable car), we had to catch the bus down to take the Sightseeing Cruise to Hakone-machi. We walked to the shrine and lakeside torii which was nice. There was no sight of Mount Fuji due to the volcanic clouds and since I have been to Hakone last time it didn’t matter too much but was a bit unfortunate for David not to see it.
  • Hakone Open Air Museum is worth the visit – it is one of Japan’s oldest open air museums and is beautifully set in the natural landscape. It showcases numerous sculptures and paintings and also has the Picasso Collection as well as kid friendly play areas.
  • Gora Park is great to stroll around with its pretty gardens as well as a beautiful fountain in the middle of the park. It costs 500¥ to get in but it us free entry with the Hakone Free Pass.
  • We had a fantastic dinner at a little restaurant called “Rikyu Tonkatsu” in Gora. This restaurant is run by a cute elderly couple who put so much effort into making your food. It had bar style seating so you can see your food being made. They specialise in tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlets) and it was probably one of the best I’ve had.
  • David and I said our goodbyes in Hakone and I caught a Shinkasen (bullet train) to Kyoto.
Artwork at Hakone Open Air Museum
Lakeside torii
Lake Ashi
Best tonkatsu!
Gora Park
  • Kyoto has to be one of Japan’s most visit cities in Japan due to over 1,000 temples and shrines in the city. It is the former capital of Japan and holds 20% of the country’s treasures.
  • I was honestly not in any rush to see all the temples and shrines because essentially they look similar so I picked and chose what I wanted to see in Kyoto in my short 3 nights there.
  • I stayed at Kyoto Khaosan Theater hostel which was in a good location and the staff were helpful and welcoming. It was also a good way to meet other travellers.
  • On my first morning in Kyoto, I headed to Arashiyama (which is in the western part of Kyoto) for the bamboo forest and the surrounding temples and shrines. I arrived at 8:30am and it was fantastic as there were no crowds and it was relaxing walking around. By 9am, the tour buses start rolling so if you want good photos, head in early.
  • I came back into Kyoto to catch up with Honoka in her hometown. She invited her 2 friends, Hikari and Kana and Kana’s German friend, Ira also joined. It was nice for locals to  take us to the best place and show us around! We walked around Nishiki Market then had a delicious bento box lunch at “Tariquet” which cost only 980¥.
  • Kinkaku-ji or known as the Golden Temple is a zen temple and a World Cultural Heritage Site. It is covered in gold leaf and was impressive to see. It was very crowded and full of tourists but worth going.
  • Gion is the famous geisha district and lovely to stroll during the day and night with traditional wooden houses lined up the streets.
  • The riverside is full of restaurants, cafes and bars. We went to Kawa Cafe for some drinks which had a lovely view of the river.
  • Afterwards we got a bowl of ramen for dinner, went to an izakaya for drinks near Pontocho Alley (which is a pedestrian alley filled with traditional restaurants and bars) then went to karaoke and sang our hearts out which was super fun!
  • The next morning, Alison (who I met at the hostel bar earlier) and I headed to Fushimi Inari. Fushimi Inari Shrine is an important shinto shrine but the primary reason people come here is to walk through the torii gates up to the mountain. There are more than 10,000 gates which are bright orange and these were donated by individuals and corporation – their names are inscribed onto each gate. We climbed to the top of the mountain and there are great views of Kyoto from here. As you walked up the mountain, the crowds die down anyway but get here early nevertheless to beat the crowds!
  • From here, I decided to do a half day trip to Nara. It took about 1 hour to get there from JR Inari but it was worth it. Todaiji Temple is a significant landmark of Nara and the main building is said to be the world’s largest wooden building. Inside is a huge Buddha statue.
  • Nara Park is nice to stroll around and there is a ridiculous amount of deer here where tourists and locals feed and pat them. I also visited Kasuga-Taisha Shrine, Wakamiya Shrine as well as other temples.
  • On my last night, I had a few beers at the hostel bar then went out with a bunch of guys from there and went to a grungy bar. We initially only went for a couple of drinks but ended up staying out til 5am. Fun night!
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Cute laneways in Arashiyama
Delicious lunch with the girls
Kinkakuji – Golden Temple
So much matcha (green tea)
Kamo River
Ramen dinner
Streets of Kyoto
Bright orange colour torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine
Hiking up the mountain
Giant torii gates
View of Tokyo from the mountain in Fushimi Inari
Deers everywhere in Nara!
Todaiji Temple in Nara
  • Fukuoka is a harbour city which is located in the Southern part of Japan. I really enjoyed being in this relaxed city – although it had its sky high buildings, you were minutes from nature and the beach.
  • I did a spontaneous trip down here with two Dutch guys, Thomas and Ewout, who I met in Kyoto on our night out.
  • We caught the Shinkasen to Osaka then to Hakata and it was a good day to travel as it was raining. After dropping our bags at the hostel, we went for a walk and then headed to an izakaya style restaurant for meat skewers, seafood and beers.
  • We headed to a bar afterwards called “Mitsubachi” where it had a riverside view and it was nice to relax.
  • The next day we hired some bikes and rode through Ohori Park and around the lake and headed towards Fukuoka Tower and went to the waterfront/seaside area of Momochi. We relaxed by beach and it was actually quite warm! (Later realised I got sun burnt from bike riding and being at the beach – I really underestimated the sun here. I never even burn in Australia!)
Fukuoka Harbour by night
Dinner with the Dutchies
Famous Fukuoka Tower
Bike selfie!
Miyajima Island
  • Miyajima Island is only 1 hour away from Hiroshima and whilst most people do a day trip, I decided to stay a night on the island. It is one of Japan’s top 3 destinations and I highly recommend spending some time on the island.
  • I stayed at Miyajima Guesthouse Mikuniya and it was one of the best guesthouses I’ve stayed at. You instantly felt welcome and the hospitality was second to none. I shared a traditional style room with one other girl and you made your own futon (Japanese style bed) and you sleep on the floor and I actually had one of the most comfortable sleeps.
  • As I arrived around 7:30pm, there was a lack of restaurants opened but found one which served okonomiyaki (Japanese style pancakes). Had a delicious seafood one with soba noodles – Hiroshima okonomiyaki generally come with udon or soba noodles mixed through unlike the ones in other parts of Japan i.e. in Tokyo.
  • The giant torii gate is probably the main attraction of the island. I was able to see the torii gate in low tide and was able to walk all the way to the gate but in high tide, the gate looks as if it is floating above the water. Itsukushima Shrine is also significant and is built over the water.
  • There are heaps of walking trails around the island that are worth doing if you have some time.
  • My priority in coming to Miyajima Island was to hike up to Mount Misen. Daisho-In trail is the most scenic but still a hard enough course as it is fairly steep. There are also 2 other courses you can take. It took about 1 hour to the summit and the views from the top were absolutely stunning and worth the hike up.
  • There are deers scattered around the island who are accustomed to humans and roam freely.
  • You must have the oysters whilst on the island – a specialty!
Giant torii gate in low tide
Giant torii gate in high tide
Deer on the island
View from Mount Misen
  • Hiroshima is a city with so much history, pain and suffering due to the first atomic bombing on the 6th of August 1945 during WW2. However, as the city recovers, there is so much hope and peace in this place.
  • I made my way back from Miyajima Island to Hiroshima and treated myself at the Mitsui Garden Hotel for a night for some R&R.
  • I woke up early next morning and walked around the city and explored the Hiroshima Castle, then walked to the Atomic Bomb Dome (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only standing structure left after the bombing) and the Peace Park with the Children’s Peace Monument. 
  • The Peace Memorial Museum and the Peace Museum were a good way to get some insight into the tragedy and to see how Hiroshima has built up its city again.
Hiroshima Castle
Peace Park
Children’s Peace Monument
A Dome Building
  • Osaka is an economic hub and is known for its shopping, food and nightlife.
  • I only spent one night in Osaka so it was short but sweet.
  • I headed to Osaka Castle and walked around the compound and then headed to the Shinsaibashi area and went to Jinen Sushi for nigiri and sushi which was so tasty!
  • From here, I walked to Namba and strolled around Ame-mura and along the river in Dotonburi and also had the most delicious takoyaki (octopus balls)
  • In the evening, I met João who is Portuguese, who introduced me to some of his Japanese friends. We went to a local teppanyaki place where we had beers, grilled meats, yakisoba and okonomiyaki which was so delicious!
  • After, we went to Little Long Beach Bar in Namba where we had some beers and sake and this was a perfect way to end my Japan trip!
Osaka Castle
Making yakitori in Dotonburi
Last Japanese meal and drinks with new friends!

It’s safe to say that this trip was super fun and memorable – I love the Japanese who always make you feel welcome and are so polite. The food is also to die for. Being at home was a hard hit to reality especially going back to work and getting back to studying the CA.

I cannot wait to go back to Japan in the near future to catch up with my old friends as well as my new ones!

Arigatou gozaimasu Japan for the fun times ✌