This trip was organised by Ingrid with only minor input from me. Apart from one night at a hotel in Nagoya, where we needed to be for Ingrid to get to a concert, we stayed mostly in Airbnb accommodation.
After a long flight and a train journey we arrived in Tsu for our first few days. We found our way to our Airbnb, which was quite close to the station and near a nice park, and left our luggage there for the day. We then just got on a train to see where it would take us, intending to get off anywhere that looked interesting. Unfortunately, it rained heavily but in the evening we went with our host to a Ramen place. We were both ill in the night.
Saturday 2 April 2016 – Nara
The next day we went to Nara where we were supposed to meet up with one of Ingrid’s Japanese friends. There were too many exits from the railway station and our mobile phones had no signal so we could not find them and, in the end, we went off on our own.
The main part of the town was quite crowded with tourists but we managed to find our way off the beaten track.
The locations of the photos I took can be seen on the map.
In the evening, we discovered there was a cherry blossom festival in the local park in Tsu. We had dinner at one of the numerous food stalls and then we wandered around the beautifully lit park.
Dinner in the local park – Komeicho, Tsu
Sunday 3 April 2016 – Nagoya
We had to set off quite early the next morning so that we could check into our hotel to give Ingrid time to go to meet her friend and get to their KAT-TUN concert.
I was left to explore on my own while she was at the concert. Looking at a map of the local area, I noticed a park within walking distance. It turned out that it was the famous Nagoya castle. It was quite an impressive place and I spent most of the day exploring it. The cherry blossom festival was in full swing and the view from the top of the castle was impressive.
Monday 4 April 2016 – Kita-Kamakura
The next morning we set off to Yokohama where we stored our luggage for the day and caught the local train to Kita-Kamakura which is famous for its numerous temples and shrines.
From the Main Hall of the Meigetsuin Temple, built in 1160, there is a lovely view through a round window into the back garden. The window is supposed to represent the full moon.
After exploring the area we decided to walk to the next station along the railway line, stopping at various interesting points along the way. You can see some of these marked on the map.
Back at Yokohama, we had a walk round the station area which had been used as a location for many of the Japanese TV dramas that Ingrid had watched. We then caught the train to Tokyo Akihabara station and our next Airbnb. Having found the flat, we went out and met another of Ingrid’s friends for dinner.
Tuesday 5 April 2016 – Nikko
We spent the next day at Nikko with Yuko, another of Ingrid’s friends. First we had a very good traditional lunch at a place in Nikko by the famous bridge and then walked around the temple complex. It was quite crowded near the entrance but as we got further in there were fewer people. It was rather misty and it threatened to rain but it made for quite a magical atmosphere.
Tuesday 5 April 2016 – Tokyo by night
In the evening we went to Odaiba. This is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay and across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. It was originally built for defence but it is now a major commercial, residential and leisure area.
We had great views of the Rainbow Bridge which was so named so by the public.
The Rainbow Bridge is a suspension bridge crossing northern Tokyo bay between Shibura Pier and the Odaiba waterfront. The towers supporting the bridge are white and designed to harmonize with the skyline of central Tokyo as seen from Odaiba. At night there are lamps of three colours, red, white and green, on the suspension wires supporting the bridge and they are powered by solar energy stored from daylight hours.
Wednesday 6 April 2016 – Mount Fuji
Jun, another of Ingrid’s Japanese friends, took us out for the day and we went to see Mount Fuji. Along the way we drove on a road that made music as we went over it. We couldn’t get very close to the top of the mountain as the road was closed due to snow but we visited some ice caves and had a lovely walk. After lunch, we went to Oshino Hakkai, an old style village.
Thursday 7 April 2016 – Tokyo (Ueno & Asakusa)
I had arranged to meet up with Chieko, a friend from when I lived in Japan back in 1990-92. The weather wasn’t great but we met up at Ueno station and had a nice walk around Ueno Park. We found a place for lunch and who should be sitting at the table next to us, Ingrid and her friend Mayumi.
After lunch, Ingrid and I walked to Asakusa with Nao for a bit of shopping ending up in Akihabara.
It had been a short and busy holiday but very enjoyable. There are so many more places we would like to explore so there must be a repeat visit.