122 Kms from Gifu
First on the list of best places to travel alone for solo female travellers is Kyoto. This city of gorgeously styled temples, art galleries and master pieces of Japanese gardens is best explored walking. For a solo female traveller not just Kyoto but Japan as a country is considered the safest, thus walking through the beautiful corridors around the city with blooming cherry blossoms at night is not a problem at all. Read More
First on the list of best places to travel alone for solo female travellers is Kyoto. This city of gorgeously styled temples, art galleries and master pieces of Japanese gardens is best explored walking. For a solo female traveller not just Kyoto but Japan as a country is considered the safest, thus walking through the beautiful corridors around the city with blooming cherry blossoms at night is not a problem at all.
Tempura Bar at Yoshikawa Inn. The chef serves us tempura omakase style - whatever he decides to be on the menu that day. We had shrimp, asparagus, yam, shinoki mushrooms, eggplant (i think). I might have missed out a few dishes they were all so good. The batter was light and didn't cover the ENTIRE food item. Its amazing how the oil he used for frying stayed clear throughout our meal and I learned afterward that he uses a special oil. He was cooking for 11 people in total because that's how much space the bar can accommodate. We arrived slightly around 1.30pm or so that the hostess only accepted another couple after us and started turning customers away (they close at 2.30pm and open later for dinner). We were also served shredded cucumber and tiny anchovies that we ate with rice. The kind hostess explained that we can dip our tempura in spiced salt (it wasn't spicy, just spiced) as an alternative to dipping in the sauce. She was so nice and I was afraid that she'd turn her nose up at us because we weren't Japanese and didn't know the proper etiquette for eating tempura in a proper establishment. I guess they get lots of foreign visitors. The tempura bar is in an actual ryokan.
Serene beauty: Kyoto (3 days… or 3 years) Get back to Honshū and head to Kyoto, the place where you’ll find all the stereotypical images you probably have in mind about Japan: zen gardens reflected in peaceful ponds, infinite rows of red gates, and even — if you’re lucky — the fugitive sight of a geisha gracefully gliding down the street. Geishas are professional artists hurrying on their way to work, by the way, not cultural oddities: please don’t stop them to try and make them pose for a picture. Get lost in the silver-green bamboo plantation, get a taste of ancient Japan in the teahouse district of Gion, risk blindness by contemplating the bright Golden Pavilion, stroll along the canal, explore the nearby mountain villages… and maybe consider sticking around for a few years. “I would happily include Kyoto among the ten cities in the world where it is worth living for a little while”, Nicolas Bouvier wrote in Japanese Chronicles The Travelettes Itinerary for Japan(which you should read by the way, no matter whether you have the intention of visiting Japan or not).
Thanks to the Google gods, we were able to find a great restaurant where we could enjoy some local flavors like oyster and sashimi! And surprisingly, it was incredibly affordable! My meal set (pictured above) was under 2000 yen, and came with so many things to try! The oyster was 1100 yen or so on it’s own, and I have to admit that I much prefer mussels, but it was great to try. They also offer kaiseki meals (traditional Japanese meal sets) for a range of prices, but those might need a reservation. Anyway, I would definitely recommend Torimatsu to those of you driving through Kyotango! :>
Kyoto is connected to Tokyo by the Shinkansen or the Bullet Trains which can take you from Tokyo to Kyoto in times that range between 140 Minutes to 4 Hours for the 460 Kilometer journey, depending on the speed of the train you choose to travel in. Kyoto was the capital of the erstwhile Japanese Empire from the 8th to the 19th Century, and thus has numerous shrines, temples and other architectural structures like the Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nijo Castle that provide an insight into Japan's history. After trekking around Kyoto for hours looking at these temples in the heat we had been worrying that we’d be shunned from restaurants looking the way we did (read: sweat-stained tank tops, shorts and mosquito-ravaged calves). However, we were welcomed into a beautiful, traditional restaurant where we were invited to take off our rank sneakers, given a booth, offered sake to try and left with a bell to ring when we wanted something from our very pleasant waiter. In the pub we went to afterwards, the bartender poured us sake in addition to the drinks we ordered and invited us to try Umeboshi, salty plums, with the three locals sitting at the bar.
164 Kms from Gifu
Warm delicious broth with bouncy noodles on a cold, wet winter evening is truly comforting. The Japanese don't judge a ramen by its broth, but by the noodles. I love a good broth and I like my noodles just al dente. Many people argue about which is the best ramen in Osaka but I think this one is worth a visit. I added a healthy dollop of garlic and a small mountain of spring onions to my ramen so I was very happy.
Food galore: Osaka (2 days) Okay, we actually used Osaka as a home base for day trips, and didn’t like it that much (twinkling neons, lousy casinos). However this probably had a lot to do with us staying in the rather sleazy love-hotel area of the city, near Namba Station. Indeed, I’ve heard other people say that Osaka had been the absolute highlight of their trip thanks to the buzzing art and culture scene, and most of all thanks to the food. Needless to say I will be back there in the future, rent a bike and take the time to properly explore (but probably upgrade from our funky, dirt-cheap love hotel to more recommendable accommodation) — and you should too.
The Osaka Mint Park is really crowded. Bunch of people want to see the Sakura. Osaka Mint Park has a long road ahead, so you’ll feel surrounded by people, and of course, Sakura. The Sakura is really really beautiful !! If there are only a few people around, I believe it will be more beautiful.
196 Kms from Gifu
After visiting the beautiful castle I hopped onto the train to head to the next destination – Kobe, yummy BEEF :)Famous for the legendary Kobe beef, it is, in fact, an important port city and one of Japan’s ten largest cities.Kobe Chinatown is just around the corner. The juicy pork oily buns have a rich filling and a thin white dough layer, they are an absolute must-try. Along the street are numerous Chinese family restaurants, as well as vendors touting Chinese snacks.A few other popular things to do in Kobe is taking a stroll in the waterfront Meriken Park, and going on a sake tasting tour in one of the breweries.Read More
After visiting the beautiful castle I hopped onto the train to head to the next destination – Kobe, yummy BEEF :)Famous for the legendary Kobe beef, it is, in fact, an important port city and one of Japan’s ten largest cities.Kobe Chinatown is just around the corner. The juicy pork oily buns have a rich filling and a thin white dough layer, they are an absolute must-try. Along the street are numerous Chinese family restaurants, as well as vendors touting Chinese snacks.A few other popular things to do in Kobe is taking a stroll in the waterfront Meriken Park, and going on a sake tasting tour in one of the breweries.
328 Kms from Gifu
Shibuya:Well, Shibuya is always the place to start! It’s one of the main shopping centers in Japan, as well as home of the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world: The Shibuya Scramble (the one that you see in many Hollywood movies like 'Lost in Translation', 'Resident Evil' and more).Read More
Shibuya:Well, Shibuya is always the place to start! It’s one of the main shopping centers in Japan, as well as home of the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world: The Shibuya Scramble (the one that you see in many Hollywood movies like 'Lost in Translation', 'Resident Evil' and more).
After a day in ancient Japan, catapult your way back into the 21st Century by starting your second day in the district of Shibuya dodging humans at the world’s busiest crossroad, Shibuya Crossing. If it's too early for such physical contact find a spot to sit or stand and watch as the traffic lights go red and hundreds of busy commuters bolt across in every direction. You can even get a cool birds eye view of the scramble from the Shibuya Hikarie, located just East of Shibuya metro station.
One of the most exciting shopping places in Japan, everyone that visits Tokyo will surely pay a visit to this amazing district. Well known as the fashion central and an abundance of nightlife. One of the popular places here is the Shibuya 109 Building which is a must-stop for Japanese young women. Another well known place here is the Shibuya is famous for its scramble-crossing where you see thousands of people crossing this intersection at all angles. It is located in front of the famous Shibuya Station Hachikō exit. I also flew in to Japan via AirAsia X which lands at the Tokyo Haneda Airport which is much nearer than Narita. If you are visiting Tokyo, you should make it a point to visit this place to get a memorable Shibuya photo.
Visiting Japan isn’t complete without a picture with Hachiko, the very famous dog statue that is located in Shibuya. Hachiko is a very loyal dog, there’re some film about Hachiko, and I always cry when I watch Hachiko movie. It’s very sad, really. So yeah, I finally can meet Hachiko statue in person! Shibuya is also famous for its what so called “Shibuya Crossing”. It’s located beside the Hachiko Statue. Shibuya Crossing has five main intersections, and there’s time when the traffic lights will turn all green, and bunch of people will cross around the road. There are lots of photographers waiting for the traffic light turns green and take pictures from the top of the building next to Shibuya Crossing. Unfortunately, because I go here around 10 a.m in the morning, the crowd is not that crowded.
In one of the major fashion hubs of the world, Shibuya is reason enough to upgrade your wardrobe. One of the maddest and insanely crowded shopping districts of Tokyo, you can literally shop and drop here. Shibuya has numerous shopping centers and departmental stores like Tokyu, Shibuya Mark City, Seibu, Loft, Parco etc. It has three very famous streets, Koen Dori, Spain Slope and Center Gai. It is one such place where you would, in all probability, find the maximum number of shops and shoppers in one district, in the world. Shibuya is also sought after for its food and nightlife. As one of the fashion centers that attracts mainly the youth, Shibuya's nightlife is quite groovy. It's a maze though, your best bet would be to ask around for a good place to hang out!
Shibuya is another district famous for its nightlife and shopping complexes. This entire shopping district filled with restaurants, bars and shops, many selling high street fashion brands, is located around the Shibuya Station, one of the busiest railway stations in Tokyo. We had a memorable meal of steamed and fried pork dumplings (the best one's I have ever had) washed down with chilled Kirin beer at a restaurant tucked away in an alleyway in Harajuku, Shibuya. On another night, we popped into what was clearly a local’s bar fronting as a frat house basement (or the other way around) with old school hip-hop blasting as the Australia/Japan World Cup-qualifying soccer match played on a huge screen. Dinner was being scooped out of a crock pot. Caught up in the moment, I high-fived the bartender when Japan scored a goal (sorry, Australia). A Japanese man came over and introduced himself and bought us three quick rounds of shots as the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to one of the patrons. We would have stayed all night if only we could handle the continuous flow of hard liquor before our early-morning, three-hour train ride to Kyoto the next day. But we slipped into the streets of Shibuya and got another surprise: throngs of tipsy Tokyoans cheering and chanting over the Japan soccer team’s tie with Australia, which qualified the team for the World Cup. Group after group skipped by and held up their hands to us for a high five, embracing us in the celebration of their sports success.
329 Kms from Gifu
ShinjukuAbout Shinjuku, let me start by saying that Shinjuku Station is the world's busiest railway station, handling more than two million passengers every day. TWO MILLION !!!Like Shibuya, Shinjuku is also a business hub.. infact a bigger one! There are innumerable skyscrapers - west of the station is Shinjuku's skyscraper district, home to many of Tokyo's tallest buildings, including several premier hotels and the twin towers of the Metropolitan Government Office, whose observation decks are open to the public for free.Read More
ShinjukuAbout Shinjuku, let me start by saying that Shinjuku Station is the world's busiest railway station, handling more than two million passengers every day. TWO MILLION !!!Like Shibuya, Shinjuku is also a business hub.. infact a bigger one! There are innumerable skyscrapers - west of the station is Shinjuku's skyscraper district, home to many of Tokyo's tallest buildings, including several premier hotels and the twin towers of the Metropolitan Government Office, whose observation decks are open to the public for free.
Shinjuku Neon Lights are one of the must-experience things to do when you are visiting Tokyo, Japan. The incredible district is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo and it is also a major commercial and administrative center, housing the busiest train station in the world which is the Shinjuku Station. Can you imagine two million people use the station daily and at least 12 different lines pass through here. One could easily get lost inside the station. Anyone and everyone that visits Tokyo will at least make a stop at this unique part of Japan and as for me, my last visit here was back in 1990. You can only imagine how it was back then. On my last visit here in February 2011, it seemed like nothing had changed. Below are pictures I took while I explored this place on foot. Please click on the pictures to see in full size. Walking around at night is probably the best way to experience Shinjuku, especially along the main roads at Kabukicho where you can get a good view of the neon lights that tantalize your eyes. Every nook and cranny was almost covered with all sorts of neon. Even walking pass lanes, you could see lights leading all the way deep into the lanes.Overall, if you like the vibrant nightlife, Shinjuku is one of the places worth exploring as they offer all kinds of shopping and entertainment. Luxury brand stores are also found around here. There are some excellent places with great Japanese food while specialty coffee cafes can be seen here too. Be careful of street promoters that approach and offer you good deals to special clubs and bars as once you are committed, you would most likely end up paying exorbitant prices. Note that various subway lines stop here but the train service stops at midnight so if you plan to stay late, you need to take a taxi back. Some of the best clubs in Tokyo are found here too.
From the Shinjuku Government Building, we go to Shinjuku to do shopping ;) Shinjuku has Tokyu Hands, like a department store that sell anything - really, anything - and it’s really complete. You can spot a lot of interesting yet unique products here. My friends and I spent a lot of time here. After we go around Tokyu Hands, we go around Shinjuku. As far as I observed, actually Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Ginza all has the same similarities. They all have branded products along the road. The kind of product that they sell is almost the same. Maybe it only has differences in a certain brands and store.