HOW TO ENJOY CHERRY BLOSSOM VIEWING IN JAPAN
Nothing compares to cherry blossom viewing in Japan during sakura season, which is as much about the visual spectacle as it is about culture.
Having recently returned from my trip to Japan, exploring some of the highlights that this wonderful country has to offer, we thought we would share my adventures with you all. There were so many exciting places to visit in Japan, so in my limited time in the country, we chose the highlights.
DAY 1 - 2
We made it to Japan and were very excited to explore this fascinating country! After landing, we made our way from Narita Airport to Nohga Hotel Akihabara in Tokyo where we were able to relax and in a great location for exploring this wonderful city. The next day we could explore all of what Tokyo has to offer and to see the amazing attractions and culture.
This vibrant city has something for everyone, the bustling Ginza shopping district is the hub of glitzy shopping in Tokyo and very popular with both tourists and locals which was an amazing way to be immersed in the culture. Omotesando is the home of designer shops and chic cafes. Shopping is a favourite hobby for Japanese culture!
For our final day in Tokyo, we explored TeamLab Planets Toyko, which is a collection of 9 immersive art projects using a combination of light and water in a new and exciting way. The whole display is an interactive experience which allows you to feel at the centre of the art and how the art alters around you.
After the immersive experience of Team Labs we went to explore the peaceful, botanical gardens with the beautiful cherry blossom trees nearly out in bloom. The best time to see the cherry blossoms in bloom is in April. Read more on this blog post. We then made our way to the famous Toyosu Fish Market to experience some of the freshest sushi offered in most of the restaurants surrounding the market, it was delicious!
Top Tip: Expect that throughout Japan you will regularly have to be barefoot when you are inside!
Our time in Tokyo had come to an end, we made our way to the train station, this is a very popular way to travel around Japan. We boarded the bullet train to Nagoya and then a further train to take us to our destination which was Takayama. Our journey to Takayama took about 4 hours 40 mins.
Arriving at Takayama station we were welcomed by spotting snow-capped mountains in the distance, the town is located in the Northern Japanese Alps. With our hotel, only a stone's throw from the train station it makes for a perfect base for exploring all that Takayama has to offer.
Waking up for our full day of exploring this quaint Japanese town. Takayama is famous for Japanese architecture and is home to hosting spring and autumn festivals, with ornate festival floats which prove very popular! Takayama has a very relaxed and quiet atmosphere about it with a mountainous feel. We visited the historic folk villages, learning about how they once lived and we were able to wander around the old farmhouses.
One of the most popular areas to visit in Takayama is Samachi, famous for its tea shops and restaurants, a very popular area to visit for foodies! We enjoyed dinner at Heinraku which has delicious vegetarian food.
We hopped on the train from Takayama to Kyoto for our next stop on this amazing trip. This is one of the largest city in Japan, full of large shopping districts. Kyoto is previously Japan's Capital city, walking down the streets you pass many monks and geishas. The city is full of culture with around 2,000 temples and shrines to explore with a very spiritual and traditional feel.
I would recommend this as a must-see for those wanting to experience Japanese culture. We also enjoyed renting bikes to save our legs and explore more of the sites, especially as it is all flat!
One of my favourite places was the Zen Temple, the architecture and the artwork is beautiful to admire and explore as well as many stone gardens surrounding the temples which were beautiful to explore.
In the Nara Park around the temples are the Nara deer which you could go up and feed some deer crackers! Kyoto is full of restaurants and jazz bars with lots of little back streets giving the city a lovely feel.
Located on a quiet street only 5 minutes from the station was our hotel, Hotel Intergate Kyoto Shijo Shinmachi which was the perfect base for a city stay. We visted the Hoshinoya hotel overlooking the river, accessed only by boat and surrounded by Cherry blossom trees, perfect for a rest bite from the bustling city. The food here was delicious with traditional Japanese food.
DAY 9 and 10
Leaving Kyoto we jumped on the bullet train to Shin-Osaka and then onto Nanba station, Osaka, which only took 30 minutes. Known to have many Ferris wheels all over the city, we jumped on one to witness the amazing views of Osaka.
There was also a TeamLab expedition in Osaka which is mesmerising to see. Hotel Gracery Osaka Nanba was a perfect place to stay and in close proximity to the main attractions.
Whilst in Osaka we had to go and experience a Sumo Tournament, this was one of our favourite Japanese experiences! Mainly full of locals, with a very loud atmosphere and fully immersed into the fight! This was a nice change from many of the attractions we had been to were mainly directed at tourists. The matches are run throughout the day so we were able to fit it into our plans.
We went up Osaka Castle which had lots of informative displays to explain the history, we then went up the Umeda Sky Building where you get amazing views across the city. Throughout the city, it is filled with delicious restaurants and cafes to choose from. For those with families, Osaka has Universal Studios which would be perfect for a day out with children.
The final day of our trip had arrived, and we spent the day sightseeing in Osaka, which a lot to see! Similar to the other major cities we had visited, there were many shopping districts .
Sadly our trip has come to the end having seen some of Japan's highlights although there was so much more of the country to experience.
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