Ever since I was a little girl I have had a dream to visit Japan. My neighbour was Japanese and I grew up with Japanese food, treats and evening news (which were often running around midday).
My boyfriend has always been a vivid fan of manga and animé and drawn to Japanese culture and history. Thus, it seemed obvious that Japan would be the destination for our next big trip.
We are going in the summer months when the islands are hot and humid and you can almost drink the air. But despite the lack of red and orange colours on the trees and the blossoming cherry trees, summer in Japan is a beautiful and charming period. This country is so beautiful that any season has its own magic.
For three weeks we are travelling on the central island, Honshū. We will begin our trip by watching the sumo final in Nagoya before heading north to the mystical Japanese Alps where we will visit Matsumoto, Kamikochi, Takayama, Ainokura and Kanazawa. Our second week will be spent in Kyoto with daytrips to Osaka and Nara, while we will end our travel with eight days in the metropole above all others, Tokyo.
Summer is coming…
The Japanese Alps
A few hours later we both woke up refreshed and in great need of something to eat. I imagine it was dinner time in Denmark. Eating a few leftover biscuits from our flight we finally had the feel that we were here, in Japan…
Gallery: the Senshuraku
Sumo is a fascinating sport full of traditions and mysteries. It is also extremely funny to Watch alongside hardcore Japanese fans. Here are a few of my many many Photos from the 2015 Senshuraku in Nagoya.
The List of Weird: Nagoya
Being in Japan it is obvious that some things will be different, some of it weird, some of it ingenious. In the following I've collected a list of those things which surprised us while walking around Nagoya.
Dinner is served around a fireplace with a large pot hanging from a massive hook in the ceiling. Guests are placed in a circle around the fireplace, which makes it easy to converse, but also a bit embarrassing for those of us not used to eating with chopsticks.
Kanazawa: 日 1
I quickly came to realise that the synthetic cocktails served at the place were named after the characters represented on the desk. Thus, my menu this evening became a long line of animé characters such as Mami and Kyoko from Puella Magi.
Gallery: Omisho Market
I have tried to limit my photos from Kanazawa, but I have always had a weakness for markets and I simply have to share some of the many delicacies one can get at Omisho Market in Kanazawa. Enjoy!
Kyoto: 日 1
But according to the sweet older lady behind the counter, the restaurant had run out of pasta and we ended up with rice dishes instead. What are the odds!
Kyoto: 日 2
However, I must admit that I was contemplating taking the plunge as we were stuck between large masses of tourist groups on the stage in the middle of the terrifying humidity. It might have been the easiest way down.
Kyoto: 日 3
So we played a little game called getting away from the pink couple as we slowly made our way down the Philosopher's Path.
Kyoto: 日 5 - Northwest Kyoto
The misty morning had turned into a beautiful day and in this very moment, at this place I felt peaceful. It made me appreciate even more the wabi-sabi of Japanese culture.
Kyoto: 日 5 – Arashiyama
We started our visit with a bit of refreshment in the way of green tea and Japanese sweets, in the cooling shade at the charming tea ceremony room Tekisui-an.
Day trip to Osaka
Surrounded by the neon lights and massive commercials in Osaka's Dotonbori, I can only come to the conclusion that Japan's third largest city has been worth every minute we spent here.
Tokyo 日 2: Car free day in Ginza
Japanese city maps which are placed around to help guide tourists and visitors rarely point north. Their top will always be the direction in which you stand when looking on the map.
Tokyo 日 3: Exploring Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya
While the servers might have been slightly stressed when we changed tables, I think they forgave us the chaos as they saw our awe of the view.
Tokyo 日 5: The Royal Homes, Tsukiji fish market and a boat trip to Asakusa
I have never and will probably never taste sushi as fresh as that at the small sushi joint we found near Tsukiji Market. These places are known to serve only the latest caught fish from the market next door, and oh my goodness can you taste it.
Tokyo 日 6: Shimokitazawa and kimono hunting in Harajuku
After nearly three weeks of sightseeing and so many impressions, I decided on a slow day. My boyfriend was off on his own discovering other parts of Tokyo, but I needed a quiet day without too much walking.
Tokyo 日 7: Roppongi, Tokyo Tower and Ueno
So off course I placed myself on the top of the Yūyake Dandan stairs, to capture this famous view of one of Tokyo's few remaining traditional areas.
Tokyo 日 8: Akihabara and a night out taking photos
Before going to Japan my impression of the animé and manga culture was rather innocent. It was all excessive cuteness and pretty costumes. But after three weeks here the cuteness has turned sour.
Gallery: People of Tokyo
Somewhere along the way, I have managed to take some photos of a small portion of the many million people you might meet in Tokyo. All of them so very different from one another. This gallery is made up of a few of those photos.
Temples, Castles and Shinto Shrines...
After three weeks in Japan it is time to bring forth the cultural calculator:
Castles: Nagoya-jō, Matsumoto-jō, Kanazawa-jō, Nijo-jō, Ōsaka-jō, Tokyo Imperial Palace.
Buddhist temples: 22, Shinto shrines: 7, Villas: 2,
Samurai houses: 1, Gardens: Never enough...