I recently got back from a trip to Japan and I can’t shut up about it. If you haven’t been before I highly recommend you hop online and get booking! It is a land of indescribable beauty and grace. I was fortunate to spend 6 weeks there and I was able to take my time and enjoy it at a gentle pace. The majority of travellers I met over there did not have that luxury though. Most were in Japan for around 10-14 days so I thought I’d tailor this post towards those of you who would love to holiday in the land of the rising sun with a need to be in and out in 2 weeks. It was incredibly tough to pick and choose which of Japan’s locations should make this list but I think the five I’ve ended up with showcase Japan at it’s best and most natural.
Hakone is a gorgeous area to the West of Tokyo that is famous for its idyllic scenery and hot springs. You will not believe your eyes when you arrive as the beauty of Japan opens up in front of you. Hakone is the perfect day trip destination and it is accessible by train from Tokyo and Shinjuku stations and lies around two hours away. I can’t think of many places that let you experience forests, a volcano, Mt Fuji, and a gentle lake in one visit. There is an extremely convenient round trip course that lets you experience everything by way of train, cable car, rope-way and scenic cruise. The options to get around and save money are readily available and you can read about my experiences here.
The only place I found on mainland Japan that could rival Hakone for sheer natural beauty was the island of Miyajima. Hiroshima is famous for the peace museum but to experience the city fully you need to see it from the top of Mt Misen on Miyajima. It’s quite famous as a place of stunning landscapes and views of the bay and once you arrive it’s not hard to see why. I was blown away by the views on Miyajima and I’m sure you will be too! There are also deer casually wandering around the place, but if you want the read about the real deer capital of Japan keep reading. If you need help planning your trip to Miyajima I have you covered.
While you’re visiting Miyajima why not add an extra day in Hiroshima and visit the island of Okunoshima? Oh don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it by that name, it is famously referred to as Bunny Island. Still haven’t heard of it? That’s okay, my Uncle who was born and raised in Osaka hadn’t either! The best way to describe it is to imagine an island void of anything other than adorable, fluffy little rabbits. How these bunnies came to own Okunoshima is a matter of debate but what is fact at this point is this is the cutest bloody island in Japan, and possibly the world. Definitely make the trip if you’re in Hiroshima or maybe nearby in Osaka or Himeji. This is another perfect day trip destination that you can’t miss out on.
Speaking of day trips and cute animals Nara has to rank up there as one of the premier destinations for anyone visiting Japan. The majority of travellers will find themselves in Kyoto at some stage of a trip to Japan and who could blame you? It is a gorgeous city, and one of the more beautiful options for those of you who choose to stay in Kyoto, and even Osaka, is to take a day trip out to Nara. Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan and is surrounded by spectacular lush hills and forests but the real attraction lies in the deer who wander about the streets. They are everywhere and are as much apart of the town as the human inhabitants. They roam in the temples, gardens, main streets and sometimes can be found trying to get tables at restaurants. This is something you need to see to believe, and if you’re really lucky they may even bow to you after you feed them. An overload of adorable awaits you in Nara.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Last but certainly not least is the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. This place is utterly mesmerising and you can’t understand how gorgeous it is until you’re standing there beneath that forest. The actual forest isn’t that big but the feeling it creates is enormous. The best thing about it is you can go twice and have two totally different experiences. At night they light the forest up and it takes on a whole new feeling but it is no less beautiful. My only recommendation is to try and go as early in the morning as you physically can as it is quite popular and it will lose some of its appeal if you’re surrounded by a crowd. Kyoto is a must see!
There we go, my top 5 things to experience in Japan if you’re under a time crunch! I hope this helped you all out. If some of these are new to you then that’s excellent, and if you’ve heard of them then I guess it should just reaffirm how fantastic a time can be had in Japan.
Feel free to leave your thoughts and personal experiences below, I’d love to hear them!
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