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Famous for its bamboo grove, Arashiyama is a sightseeing district that makes for a really nice day trip from Kyoto. Like many other places in Japan, it presents a different charm with every different season. The best time to visit is during Autumn it presents clear skies, promising lovely weather, and all colours around the beautiful countryside.One of the most enjoyable and convenient ways to travel around the Arashiyama is by rental bicycle, which is available for around 1000 yen near the train stations.Cycling through rural residential areas, the bridge near the river and all temples is one of the most enjoyable parts of a visit to Arashiyama.Togetsukyo BridgeThe Togetsukyo Bridge is Arashiyama's well known, central landmark. There are many small shops, souvenirs, small restaurants nearby.
After some of the previous day’s Sake induced expletives… head to the Ueno national park. This, my dear, is my reason for Japan… one of the most famous sites for Sakura aka cherry blossom viewing… get all melodramatic with the sweet smelling pink in your life around the Shinubazu pond!
If the excitement of Harajuku leave you craving some zen, head to Yoyogi Park which is located just next to Harajuku station. It's particularly beautiful during cherry blossom season (at the end of March and the beginning of April) and during the Autumn (September to early November).
On my first day in Okinawa, as i sit down for lunch at Makishi Market, a gentleman in his 60's sits right across from me.. and nods and smiles in acknowledgement. As a tourist and first timer in Japan i fumble with my menu, and as i am adjusting my palette to the delicacy of my first Japanese meal in Japan, the stranger walks away with another nod and a endearing smile. Little did i know then, that he had paid for my meals as well, and he would not give me a chance to thank him. An unconditional gesture of kindness.
Hakuba Happoone Ski Resort
The most famous ski-resort in Japan and supposedly the largest, Happo One graces the eastern front of Mount Karamatsu and played host to several important events in the 1998 Winter Olympics. With absolutely breath-taking views of the Japanese Alps, a ski-area of 23000 metres, 23 lifts including a Gondola and as many as 13 trails, Happo One is truly an icy adventure of a lifetime. There is also a Happo Banks Snowpark for avid snowboarders. The resort is accessed by a 5 minute long fixed-route bus along the Sarukura Line from Hakuba town. A regular single day ticket should come for 5000 Yen.
Fondly referred to as the 'Crow Castle' because of its black exterior, Matsumoto Jo (Jo: Castle in Japanese) is one of the oldest castles in Japan and continues to remain in its original state. With six elaborate floors and a hidden storey for Samurais, it dates back to the 16th Century and is a treasure of the Naganao Prefecture. While the wooden interiors of the 'Jo' are impossibly beautiful and the relics are interesting, you will have to climb some extremely steep stairs without footwear. The admission fee is around 600 Yen and the fortress and its gardens are open from 8:30 am till 5 pm. Constructed by Ishikawa Kazumasa and his son Yasunaga, it is a 15 minute walk from the Matsumoto Station. Visit during the Cherry Blossom season for some exceptional views.