Japan will surprise you: unexpected technological objects, hot/cold patches, waitresses dressed in anime costumes, sushi on a conveyor belt. But also thousands of antique temples, gardens that materialize perfection, the Fuji as a presence that rises powerfully.
Anyway, this is the synthesis. Let’s start from the beginning of your 10 days in Japan!
DAY 1-4: TOKYO
“Tokyo is made for walking”, it is said, and it’s true. Get lost in its neon streets, big avenues, strange bars, huge shopping malls and narrow alleys. You will not regret it.
- Tokyo Metropolitan Towers: it is free and it has the best panoramic view of the city.
- Omoide-Yokocho: little narrow streets full of mini food stalls, one next to the other, where you will sit in a tiny place and the cooker will prepare your dinner.
- Golden Gai: small alleys with plenty of 2×2 m2 bars, with capacity for 5-7 people. It was a clandestine area and now it’s one of the best places in Tokyo to go for a drink at night. Do not miss this experience!
- Shinjuku Gyoen Park: start falling in love with Japanese gardens.
- The Scramble Crossing: the biggest and more crowded pedestrian crossing in the world!
- Electronic and gadget stores
- Adult stores
- Maid Cafes
- Anime stores
- Sushi and Ramen restaurants (Try these amazing typical dishes!)
- Ghibli Museum: The most beautiful museum you will ever see. On top of that, if you are an anime fan, please, please: go! Do not forget to buy the entrance a month in advance because they run out very quickly.
DAY 5: FUJI
I do not agree with those travelers who only give Fuji a quick view from the train seat. Mount Fuji definitely deserves at least one day for you to sit, observe and let yourself be carried away by its beauty.
I recommend you stay in Kawaguchiko, a little and quiet town at the base of Mount Fuji, famous for its landscapes and for being the most easily accessible. From its train/bus station, two retro buses provide the tourist with local transportation around the Fuji Five Lakes, which will give you the opportunity to see the Fuji from different viewpoints. End the day relaxing in hot springs Onsen, with indoors and outdoors pools, one of the best experiences in Japan.
Footnote: Some seasons (winter, spring, autumn) and day times (early mornings and late afternoons) are more suitable for seeing the Mount Fuji. Be warned that, even in that times, it may disappear covered up by clouds. So, when planning a trip, I recommend you to keep this data in mind.
DAY 6-8: KYOTO
Kyoto is known as a traditional city of Japan, one of the main touristic points in the country for national and international tourism. When you know its countless temples and shrines, admire its perfect gardens and find geishas walking on the streets, you will understand why.
Footnote: Some accommodations include bikes or the possibility to rent them for a very low rate. Touring Kyoto by bike is great!
- Tenryu- ji Temple: the main attraction of the temple is the zen garden. You will discover a new sense of beauty, in which every element has its “right place”. Awesome!
- Bamboo Forest: Next to Tenryu- ji Temple. The walk is very short (5 min) and often crowded, but it’s free and very nice.
- Fushimi Inari Shrine: Do not miss it! Known as the temple of 10,000 toriis, it has been a place of wide worship for the guardian god of abundant crop, family safety, and prosperity since Wado era. Walking on the mountain through thousands and thousands of toriis is an experience that you will not forget ( Length: 3-4 hrs).
- Ponto-cho and Gion neighborhoods: traditional architecture, teahouses and geishas & maikos walking on the street. The challenge is to recognize them among the many tourists wearing kimonos and yukatas, but you will find them by their beauty, fancy kimonos and a certain reserved and distinguished bearing.
- Riverside area (downtown): area full of alleys with mini and traditional restaurants
- Shijo Dori (downtown): main shopping street plenty of souvenir stores. Perfect for tasting candies!
- Kinkaku-ji Temple or the Golden Pavilion Temple: Highly recommended not only for its two upper floors covered with pure gold leaves but also for its stunning Japanese garden.
- Imperial Palace and Gardens: It is free but remember to request your application
for visit in advance
DAY 9: HIROSHIMA
It is very hard to visit Hiroshima and learn about all the pain and suffering that it went through. But I strongly believe that it is important to know the history so as not to repeat the mistakes from the past.
- A-Bomb Dome: This building is the only one that remained standing after the bomb since it was very close to the epicenter of the explosion. It was preserved exactly as it was found after the bombing and declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
- Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims: An arch-shaped tomb reminding everyone who died in Hiroshima because of the blast or the effects of radiation.
- Flame of Peace: “…Symbolizing the universal desire for a world free of nuclear weapons, the flame will burn until the day when all such weapons shall have disappeared from the earth…” (abstract from the commemorative plaque)
- Children’s Peace Memorial: “This monument stands in memory of all children who died as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The monument was originally inspired by the death of Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb at the age of 2 years. Ten years later, Sadako developed leukemia that ultimately ended her life. Sadako’s untimely death compelled her classmates to begin a call for the construction of a monument for all children who died due to the atomic bomb…” (abstract from the commemorative plaque)
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum: The approach to the subject is very complete, not only historical-technical but also sensitive. It is a must.
DAY 10: OSAKA
Many flights arrive or leave from this great city, so it is usually the beginning or the end of a trip to Japan. Make the most of your day by visiting Dotonbori, Osaka’s busy shopping and gastronomic center. Try two typical dishes: Takoyaki (balls stuffed with octopus) & Okonomiyaki (a kind of omelet with seafood).
Say goodbye to Japan, assuming that definitely, you will want to come back!