Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Top 3 Places in Japan

There are just so many positive adjectives I can use for Japan that it makes it really hard to write this post because I just want to gush over everything. My original post about Japan was just ridiculously long. So I've had had to really elevate my standards, sure I generally had a great time in all the places that we went to, but what were the top three places that really can't be missed?


One of the most stunning places I have ever visited. A four drive out of Kyoto (and lots of expensive freeway tolls) lies the small and well preserved ancient town of Shirakawa. It's divided into two parts. The very old village which is more of a museum I guess as you pay a small fee to get in. But it's so worth it. It was just so tranquil and naturally beautiful, straight from a Japanese fairytale. With the emerald river on one side, snow capped mountains on the other, the stroll around the cherry tree lined pathways is nothing short of breathtaking. We were really lucky to have the cherry blossoms still in full bloom.

The second part of the town is to cross the bridge into the functional part which is still quaint with it's well preserved houses that people still live and grown crops. Then finally it's a 30 minute upward trek to the viewpoint at the edge of the town which gives you a stunning vista of all beauty below. If you do one thing in Japan - let it be this.


A sleepy little onsen town known for great ski/spa trips in the Winter time. We stayed at Tsuyukusa Inn and just loved the 24 hour access to indoor/outdoor tubs and the friendly service we got - which included a photograph of us at the onsen (like a real one, printed out and all). I would have loved to have stayed in the tub all day but really you can only feasibly do it for 30 minutes because it's so hot, and that's with frequent cold water splash downs. There are only a few restaurants in this tiny town but the best thing we had was Hida beef at a rather unassuming BBQ place, so tender and delicious. One of the best beef steaks I've had ever, and I've been to Argentina!

Hitachi Seaside Park/Ashikaga Flower Park

OK I'm cheating a little as these are two separate places about 90 minutes apart but we visited them on the same day (during peak times Ashikaga closes at 9pm and the blooms at night all lighted up look just as spectacular). 

I've always wanted to visit Hitachi as there are always photos of it in those top ten beautiful things in the world lists for it's Autumnal red Kochia bushes. However the blue nemophila flowers hills were really stunning as well and I really enjoyed just riding a bike around the whole park. Extra bonus that we got to see this group of really cute dogs pose for a photo in front of the tulips together.

Ashikaga is a lot smaller but more impressive in the sheer amount of colour. Wisteria trees so large that they need a lot of scaffolding to hold them up. Bright splashes of pinks and purples everywhere you look. Wisteria flavoured soft serve. The fragrance in the air. It had a more cultivated feel but it was so beautiful I could overlook that.

So Japan is just one of those places that I will keep visiting over and over again and each time fall in love with it all over again.