Japan is really a wonderful holiday destination. Great food. Great shopping. Great sights. Great in a sense that there is something for everyone. For me, the top places of interest this trip are . . .
Tokyo Disneyland & Disney Sea
The first time I visited Tokyo Disney was when I was 9. I remembered being fascinated with It’s A Small World and Haunted Mansion. My second time was 5 years ago when I visited Japan twice within the year. Between the 2 trips, I went Disneyland 4 times and Disney Sea 2 times. For this recent visit, I only had 4 days in Tokyo, and guess what? 1 day for each theme park.
It’s amazing how Disney never fails to captivate and enchant you with a sense of magic and excitement. The atmosphere, the rides, the surroundings, the people, the food, the merchandise. Everything is fabulous. I have been to Disney in L.A. and Hong Kong. The one in Tokyo is still the best.
The day I left Tokyo for Osaka was clear blue skies. The weather was so good that we decided to make a quick trip to Tokyo Tower before our shinkansen at 2pm. Since we could not visit Hakone this time, perhaps we could catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji from the tower. We were spot on!
At first we thought the white mass was a cloud. But upon zooming in, we realised it was the tip of Mount Fuji. The visit to Tokyo Tower was worthwhile.
Later onboard shinkansen Nozomi 700, my husband suddenly exclaimed that Mount Fuji could be seen from the window. I turned and there it was:
Two sightings in a day. Incredible!
Kuromon Ichiba Market
I visited 3 markets this trip – Tsukiji Fish Market @ Tokyo, Kuromon Ichiba Market @ Osaka and Nishiki Market @ Kyoto. My favourite is Kuromon. At first, I wanted to give it a miss as it was rather out of the way. But after reading several raving reviews about the cheap and good food, I decided to make a trip there. And boy was it a right decision.
If you look at the map, there is a main street with stalls lined up on either side. There are also side lanes, some with stalls as well. It was non-stop eating from start to finish. We had fatty tuna, skewered beef, oden, mochi, kitkat, pudding, grilled tuna and teppanyaki squid.
There was a stall selling sashimi and giant crab legs. It was so popular that all the tables were occupied. I took a photo of it and told myself, next time.
River. Hills. Bamboo forest. Parks. Autumn colours. Quaint shops. If you like the combination of all these, then you will love Arashiyama.
It was noon when my group arrived. After a wonderful picnic lunch at Nakanoshima Park, which is a short walk from Hankyu Arashiyama Station, we crossed the Togetsukyo Bridge. We followed the path along Oi River and entered Kameyama Park. The plan was to take the Sagano Train from Torokko Arashiyama Station but tickets were sold out for the day. So we left the station and strolled through the Bamboo Forest. It was extremely crowded making it impossible to pause and take photos. We emerged from the forest and found ourselves at what seemed like a main road with shops lining both sides.
The best thing to eat after a long walk is ice-cream. I saw a shop selling tofu soft serve and decided to give it a try. Little did I know that Saga Tofu Ine is a pretty famous store that makes their own tofu.
We continued down the road when a display of umbrellas stopped us in our tracks. Not only were they beautiful, they were also unique. When these umbrellas come into contact with water, flower prints will appear. I did not get the umbrella but I did get a pretty wallet from Fuyusha.
We made a special trip to Himeji to visit the newly restored World Cultural Heritage Site National Treasure – Himeji Castle. My family was pretty excited because we had spent quite a bit of effort to build the castle, I mean the nanoblock version of the castle.
The actual castle was sparkly white, so different from the mostly grey ones I have seen in Scotland.
But my favourite was not the castle. It was Kokoen Garden beside it. The Himeji tourist website suggested we purchase a combination ticket to visit both, and that was what we did. I was not expecting much from the garden until I entered and was greeted with this:
I ventured further and voila!
Truly breathtaking, stunning and gorgeous autumn colours. I was so glad that I brought a proper camera to capture such beauty. Within the garden was a restaurant and a tea house. Since it was already 4pm when we arrived at Kokoen, both were closed. I would love to have a meal there should I ever visit again.