Japan

Japan

Japan is one of the most fascinating countries you can visit. It is a really neat place to explore and there are so many different activities to do there. You can immerse yourself in Japan’s rich history by visiting various temples, castles, and old towns, or enjoy the natural scenery the country has to offer, or even stay in the hyper-modern Tokyo and get a glimpse of a super-efficient city. All the while enjoying the delicious foods Japan has to offer. From a steaming hot bowl of ramen to a fresh plate of sushi and sashimi, a trip to Japan is a feast for your senses.

I have been to Japan two times so far and I still feel as if I have only scratched the surface of what the country has to offer.

But, I do have to say that a trip to Japan should be more prepared compared to many other countries, because Japan is not cheap (for most people, including me). Accommodation and transportation expenses will cover a lot of your budget and therefore I think it is necessary to prepare well in advance. There are many different websites where you can find budget lodgings. I also highly recommend staying in hostels to save costs. From my experience, hostels in Japan were very well maintained and comfortable and could easily be compared to hotels in other countries. This could save you some money that you can spend on other activities.

If you are planning to travel to various other cities, you could also look into buying a JR Pass, which allows you unlimited travel within a certain time on certain railroad tracks. The only downside is that this pass has to be bought before coming to Japan.

In the following posts I have written about my experiences during my last trip there. Most time was spent in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara. There are still some posts coming up, but those will take some time to prepare. In the meantime, enjoy the ones available for now.

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The Thousand Lanterns At Kasuga Taisha In Nara

Michael Sy A Foek | June 24, 2015 | Japan, Nara

Our last day in Japan consisted of us just taking it very easy and relaxed. We decided to go back to Nara Park one more time and feed some deer. While we were there we went to our last temple of the trip, the shrine that features over a thousand lanterns. Its name is Kasuga Taisha and this shinto shrine is located at the far end of Nara Park. It is easily and comfortably reached walking through the park and once you are there you are greeted by many stone lanterns that line the pathways up the hill. more »

Naramachi: The Historical Merchant District of Nara

Michael Sy A Foek | June 24, 2015 | Japan, Nara

When we were done visiting the Toshodaiji and Yakushiji Temples in the outskirt of Nara, our Nara student guide Kaede, brought us to a local more »

Yakushiji Temple: Dedicated To The Emperor’s Wife

Michael Sy A Foek | June 24, 2015 | Japan, Nara

After we were done touring the Toshodaiji Temple, our student guide Kaede brought us to the Yakushiji Temple which was only about ten minutes away more »

Toshodaiji: An Influential Buddhist Temple In Nara

Michael Sy A Foek | June 24, 2015 | Japan, Nara

For our second day in Nara, we signed up for a free-guided tour which is organised by students from a university in Nara. This is more »

Nara: The Quiet Nigatsu-do Hall Complex

Michael Sy A Foek | June 24, 2015 | Japan, Nara

After finishing up our discovery of the Todaiji Temple we walked further up the hill behind the temple and came across the Sangatsu-do and Nigatsu-do more »

The Majestic And Imposing Todaiji Temple In Nara

Michael Sy A Foek | June 24, 2015 | Japan, Nara

Deep within Nara Park we found one of Japan’s most famous and important temples, the Todaiji Temple. This temple is not only enormous in size more »

Kofukuji Temple: A Treasure From A Powerful Clan

Michael Sy A Foek | June 24, 2015 | Japan, Nara

Walking up the Nara Park from the city you will undoubtedly see a large pagoda standing among the trees. You can’t miss it. We too more »

Nara Park: The Kingdom Of Playful Deer

Michael Sy A Foek | June 24, 2015 | Japan, Nara

After getting a good night’s rest at the Yuzan Guesthouse, we set off early in the morning to explore more of the old capital of more »

The Yuzan Guesthouse, Cold Noodles, And Nara City

Michael Sy A Foek | June 24, 2015 | Japan, Nara

Nara was an absolute blast of a time! The city is definitely worth checking out for a day or two more »

The Classic Ippudo Ramen In Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 23, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

After having worked up quite an appetite from walking around and discovering the Fushimi Inari Shrine, and packing our bags, we decided to try more »

Fushimi Inari Shrine: Torii Gates And Foxes

Michael Sy A Foek | June 23, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

After visiting the amazingly interesting Nishiki Market in Kyoto, we hopped on a train to take a look at the hundreds of torii gates located more »

Wandering The Fascinating Nishiki Market In Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 23, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

One of the most exciting activities you can do while traveling in foreign countries is to visit a local market. It not only provides all more »

Find Tranquility At The Tenryuji Temple In Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 22, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

Situated near the famous bamboo grove and the Togetsukyo Bridge, the Tenryuji Temple is one of the main attractions of the Arashiyama district in Kyoto. more »

Mountainous Arashiyama: Stunning Surroundings in Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 22, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

After visiting the Sumiya Kiho-an onsen we felt super relaxed and refreshed and then we decided to check out the Arashiyama area, which was quite more »

The Sumiya Kiho-An Onsen In Kameoka, Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 22, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

We decided to go to an hot water spring bath, an onsen, called Sumiya, which I found online. This onsen is also a Japanese ryokan, more »

Pontocho: A Narrow Restaurant Lane In Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 21, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

Pontocho is a popular dining area in Kyoto. It is basically one long and narrow alley that runs parallel along the Kamogawa River. The street more »

The Elevated Kiyomizu-dera: A Scenic Temple In Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 21, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

Walking through Higashiyama eventually led us to the impressive and popular Kiyomizu-dera Temple. This is one of the most well known temples of Kyoto and more »

The Grand Kodaiji Temple: Zen Refinement In Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 20, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

While walking around the Higashiyama district you will eventually encounter signs that point towards the Kodaiji Temple on top of a hill. We were curious more »

The Charming Historical Higashiyama District In Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 20, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

The whole Higashiyama district is amazing, and one of the best parts of Kyoto and perhaps even Japan, although I still need to see more of more »

The Pretty Maruyama Park In Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 20, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

Maruyama Park is a small public park adjacent to the popular Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto. We walked around this park after visiting the Yasaka Shrine more »

The Yasaka Shrine: A Famous Shinto Temple In Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 19, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

The Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto is located right next to the Gion district and is therefore sometimes also known as the Gion Shrine. It is more »

Traditional Kyoto And The Lively Gion District

Michael Sy A Foek | June 19, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

I fell in love with Kyoto and the Gion district. This ancient city is so beautiful and amazingly rich with history, culture, and atmosphere. When more »

The Best Noodles: Gogyo Burnt Ramen In Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 18, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto

On recommendation of a friend who had travelled to Japan a few weeks before me, we decided to look for this place that served burnt more »

Riding The Nozomi Shinkansen From Tokyo To Kyoto

Michael Sy A Foek | June 18, 2015 | Japan, Kyoto, Tokyo

Japanese bullet trains are called Shinkansen and they are among the fastest trains in the world, reaching speeds of over 300 km per hour. These more »

Loyal Hachiko In Famous Shibuya, Tokyo

Michael Sy A Foek | June 18, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

After indulging on so many delicious foods, pastries, cakes, and snacks at the A to Z Café, we had to walk around a bit and we proceeded to more »

The A to Z Café: Yoshitomo Nara’s Artful Restaurant In Tokyo

Michael Sy A Foek | June 18, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

After our lunch, we walked from Harajuku to the area known as Omote-sandō and on the way to Shibuya we visited the A to Z Café, a restaurant more »

The Stylish District Of Harajuku In Tokyo

Michael Sy A Foek | June 18, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

The last full day in Tokyo was spent travelling around the city and meeting up with old friends once more. We took a train from more »

the tokyo imperial palace in japan during sunset

The Stately Tokyo Imperial Palace In Japan’s Capital

Michael Sy A Foek | June 17, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

During one of our days in Tokyo, the last few hours of the afternoon were spent in the gardens and parks surrounding the Tokyo Imperial Palace, which was a ten minute walk from the Tokyo train station. High walls and deep moats surrounded this important building that is located in the center of the city. more »

a store in akihabara in tokyo japan

Akihabara: Tokyo’s Electric Town

Michael Sy A Foek | June 17, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

Before I went to Japan, one of the places I was most looking forward to was the area in Tokyo known as Akiba or Akihabara. This place is known for its tech and anime, video-games, and manga culture. Unfortunately, Akihabara turned out to be one of the less interesting places we visited during our trip. more »

a view of the pond in ueno park in tokyo

The Wonderfully Expansive Ueno Park In Tokyo

Michael Sy A Foek | June 17, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

This gorgeous sunny day turned out to become a park-hopping day with Ueno Park first on our agenda. This huge public park is located right next to the Ueno Station. Ueno Park in Tokyo is well-known for accommodating several important museums, such as the National Museum for Western Art, the National Science Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and the Tokyo National Museum. And besides the museums, the Ueno Zoo can also be found there. more »

a torii gate at the meiji shrine in tokyo japan

The Monumental Meiji Shrine In Tokyo

Michael Sy A Foek | June 16, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

After we were finished looking around Mitaka and exploring the Ghibli Museum, it was time to head back to Tokyo. We hopped on a bus and then a train and found our way back to Shinjuku. From there, we transited to Harajuku station. From that station, it was only a minute or two walking to the large Meiji Shrine garden complex. more »

the studio ghibli museum building in mitaka tokyo japan

The Cinematic And Magical Ghibli Museum In Mitaka, Tokyo

Michael Sy A Foek | June 16, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

After a good hot cup of coffee to wake up, and receiving directions to Mitaka from the staff at Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki, we set out to go to the Ghibli Museum. Now, the Ghibli Museum is unlike many other museums. Tickets for this museum must be bought in advance. This is very important: you cannot buy tickets at the museum entrance, you have to buy them in a Lawson convenience store in Japan. I just repeated that, because I did see people there trying to buy tickets from the museum staff. Luckily, these days it is also possible to buy the tickets online in advance in select countries. However, in our case, I happened to have a friend who had traveled to Japan a few weeks earlier and bought the tickets for me. This was such a nice thing to do and we are super thankful! more »

the sensoji temple in asakusa tokyo

The Sensoji Temple And The Asakusa Shrine In Tokyo

Michael Sy A Foek | June 15, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

Pretty much all of the interesting sightseeing spots in Asakusa are reachable by walking. Due to the close proximity of all the cool bits, this really was the perfect area for that. And of all the sites, the Sensoji Temple and its surrounding areas are some of the most fascinating to explore. Sensoji Temple is one of the oldest, biggest, and most popular temples in Tokyo. It was built centuries ago and it was damaged during the Second World War, but most of the buildings have been reconstructed afterwards. more »

a cherry blossom tree at sumida park in asakusa in tokyo

Sunshine And Sakura In Sumida Park, Tokyo

Michael Sy A Foek | June 15, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

We arrived at our hostel, Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki, quite early and since we could only check-in at two o’clock in the afternoon, we decided to explore Asakusa. First, we made our way to Sumida Park. This park stretches out for a few hundred meters on both sides of the Sumida River. We only walked along one side of the river, but it was interesting enough. The weather was absolutely beautiful, clear blue skies with not a puff of a cloud visible, and we were also still lucky enough to catch some of the last remaining cherry blossoms! What good fortune! At last we finally get to see some of them and they were spectacular. They looked quite bright pink and lovely and smelled so sweet that we picked up their scent from meters away. more »

the entrance to the khaosan tokyo kabuki hostel in asakusa tokyo

Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki: A Fantastic Stay In Asakusa

Michael Sy A Foek | June 15, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

We stayed in a hostel that was located near the old Kaminarimon gate in Asakusa. The hostel is situated very close to the hustle and bustle of the neighbourhood, yet just far enough to avoid the busy tourist crowds that fill up the famous Nakamise shopping street with its countless souvenir shops selling everything from pastries, candies, sweets, and collectables. more »

a crowd of people at nakamise shopping street in asakusa tokyo japan

Around Astounding Asakusa, Tokyo

Michael Sy A Foek | June 14, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

Following our night crashing at the airport we woke up early and were ready to start the day before sunrise in the morning. After enjoying a cup of coffee we bought the tickets for our Nozomi Shinkansen train ride that would happen later on that week and we hopped on a train to our hostel in Asakusa, an old part of Tokyo that is easily reached from Haneda Airport as there is a direct train line going there. You don’t even need to transit. So, all in all, very convenient and easy. more »

a meal from a convience store at haneda airport in japan

Crashing Overnight At Haneda Airport In Tokyo, Japan

Michael Sy A Foek | June 14, 2015 | Japan, Tokyo

This is the first part in a series of travel posts about Japan. I will definitely try to give as many tips and information as possible for future travellers and I will add plenty of photos to complement the text and make it more interesting. Please feel free to let me know any areas in which I can improve my writing and posts! more »