The first holiday my now-husband and I ever took together was a two and a half week December trip to Japan: taking in Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kobe and Tokyo.
Only a few months earlier, I had never even considered going to Japan, but some friends had been and came back waxing lyrical about it. All of a sudden I was planning my trip!
I often think about our time there – we spent two and half weeks exploring and still didn’t see all the country has to offer. In fact, while in Tokyo – after a failed trip to Mount Fuji (it was cloudy and so we couldn’t see it) – I panicked that we hadn’t seen enough of the city, so we extended our trip by two days (that bit wasn’t cheap, so I can’t recommend it!).
The temples were stunning and there were many to choose from. We saw most of them while in Kyoto, Japan’s original Imperial capital city. However, when in Osaka, it’s a good opportunity to wander the streets – at one point we found ourselves in the middle of a religious ceremony at a temple we stumbled across.
Hiroshima was eye-opening and heartbreaking. As they always say, history is written by the winners and I think too many people don’t know of the horrors that the people of Hiroshima experienced. They have taken it in their stride, however. For example, each Mayor of Hiroshima since the bombing writes to country leaders around the world to request they abolish the use of nuclear and chemical warfare. When you visit the Hiroshima Museum you’ll see these letters posted to the wall in the foyer.
I must admit that I couldn’t get through the full museum. Once I reached a display containing a tricycle belonging to a toddler who died in the blast, all I could do was cry. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting – I think it makes it even more important as a stop to add to your itinerary.
The culture and tradition in Japan certainly deserve more than a paragraph, but I could end up writing a book if I’m not careful. From formal Japanese tea ceremonies to maiko performances, we did our best to get as much of Japan’s culture into our trip as we could. I love that there is such respect for tradition in Japan, that formal ceremonies and aspects of the culture that have been embedded for generations are still alive and kicking today.
Of course, it’s not all serious as you’ll see from my photos below. And you’ll have heard of the many colourful Japanese subcultures, like Harajuku Girls and Cosplay.
The food in Japan was amazing! From bento to automated sushi trains, we ate unbelievably well everywhere we went.
Of course, I did so much research before we left Australia that practically every meal was planned in advance. I dragged my poor husband around for hours looking for the right gyoza, the right bento, and a whole building dedicated to okonomiyaki while we were in Hiroshima.
There are also some brilliant museums dedicated to beer and sake, two very important drinks in Japan.
If you can’t get all the way to Japan, there are some great places to eat here in the UK, including Sen Nin in London.
Memories of Japan
Japan is a fascinating country. I look forward to the day I can go back and explore the places I didn’t see and eat at the restaurants I missed out on.
If you have tips for when I do get to return, please let me know!