Culture and saké: Takayama (2 days) Kampai! Takayama is home to dozens of saké breweries, and is the place to sink down jugs and jugs of this rice-based beverage. If you don’t like the taste that much, try and start with some warm saké after a day of exploring — nice, right? To fill up the day before boozing hour, visit the morning markets, explore the old town on foot, and snap pics of the traditional wooden houses and old-school shops. Or maybe spend an afternoon hanging out in a cafe, sipping on tea and writing postcards while listening to jazz records. Oh, and make sure you hop on the train back to Tokyo during daylight hours: the ride is stunning.
Activate JR Rail pass- Day 5KYOTO [ Departure track No.13 ] 7 AM HIROSHIMA [ Arrival track No.12 ] 9.10 AM- SHINKANSEN HIKARI 491Start/9:30am: Hiroshima Station- After arriving at Hiroshima Station, grab a map at the Tourist Information Center in the station and maybe a cup of coffee. Then, leave via the south exit and head to the street tram stop in front of the station (make sure you have some change to cover the Y160 fare). Take tram #2 or #6 and get off at Genbaku-domu-mae (A-Bomb Dome) about 10 minutes later.9:45am: Atomic Bomb Dome- You can easily see the famous Atomic Bomb Dome from where you get off the tram. Take some time to observe this sobering sight, then cross nearby Motoyasu-bashi Bridge across the Motoyasu-gawa River and enter the Peace Memorial Park.10:30am: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum- I suggest heading straight through the Peace Memorial Park to the Peace Memorial Museum because you want to get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds that descend on the museum as the day progresses. Allow about 90 minutes to explore the museum thoroughly.Return to Hiroshima Station- To reach the ferry port from Hiroshima Station, take the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (25 minutes, 410 yen one way, covered by the Japan Rail Pass).Arrive Miyajima - Upon arrival on the island, it’s very easy to get oriented. Just walk south along the shoreline in the direction of the famous “floating shrine gate.” Walking from the pier, this means going to your right.12 PM : Itsukushima-jinja Shrine- Take some time to explore Itsukushima-jinja Shrine and pose for the obligatory photo of yourself with the floating shrine gate in the background.1:00Pm: Daisho-in Temple- From Itsukushima-jinja, it’s an easy 10-minute walk up to Daisho-in Temple. It’s clearly marked and you can usually just follow the crowds. Take a good hour to explore the temple.2 PM : Momiji-dani-koen Park- After lunch, follow the small Mitarai-gawa River up into Momiji-dani-koen Park. Mt. Misen via Miyajima Ropeway- Continue up the valley, following the river, to reach the base station of the Miyajima Ropeway. Take the gondola/cable car up to the top station, near the summit of Mt. Misen. Walk from the top station for about 30 minutes to reach the true summit and check out the temples, shrines and views there. From the Niomon Gate down to Daisho-in Temple takes about an hour.4pm: Finish in the village- If you walk down from Mt. Misen at a leisurely pace, you’ll be back in the village around 4pm. If you’re staying the night on Miyajima, return to your lodgings. Otherwise, head to the piers for a ferry back to the mainland (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park or Miyajima-guchi and on to Hiroshima).
Matsumoto is a lot more touristy when compared to Hakuba as it is the second largest city in the Nagano Prefecture. Home to one of the oldest castles in the country along with some excellent shrines and museums, it morphs into a cherry blossom heaven during the months of March and April. While it is more of a university town, the traditional edibles available in Matsumoto, especially the 'Soba noodles', are loved by locals and travellers in equal measures.
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.