Japan: Cherry Blossoms, Ramen and an A-bomb

Tripoto
22nd Apr 2019
Photo of Japan: Cherry Blossoms, Ramen and an A-bomb by Aishwarya Raj
Day 1

Hello, Tokyo!
Narita International Airport, the primary airport for travelling to and from Tokyo is more than an hour away from the city, and taxi fares are exorbitant (think tens of thousands Yen). Try to get the "Narita Express" train to Tokyo station, and then find your way to your hotel from there via the metro system or by city cabs. 
I didn't have much time left on this day, so I ended the night with some Udon noodles at a local diner next to my hotel in Shinjuku.

Day 2

See Tokyo!
Start with the most famous attractions, because even the most "clichéd" spots in Tokyo are worth a visit. The Imperial Palace and Museum are a good option, though these were closed for renovations during my visit.
I decided to go to the Shinjuku-Gyoen park (next to the Shinjuku-Gyoemmae metro station) to see the beautiful Sakura trees in blossom.
The park a huge estate in the middle of the city with a Central Park vibe, with views of skyscrapers all around the edge of the park, as well as lakes, traditional tea houses and multiple gardens.

Photo of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj

In the afternoon, I decided to go to the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. The path to the temple is lined with stores full of knickknacks and souvenirs, so you could shop for kawaii items for your friends and family back home here. The temple structure itself is humongous and colourfully decorated. During peak hours, you might also be able to see locals in traditional kimonos at the temple.

Photo of Sensō-ji, 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj

End the night at Shibuya - Tokyo's main youth shopping and nightlife district. The Shibuya crossing is a vast 5-way junction with thousands of people waiting to cross the road every time there's a red light, and the chaos you'll see here is unlike anything else in Tokyo.
Shibuya is also home to most internationally-reknowned brands, from Forever 21, Zara and H&M to local stores (consisting of 10-storeyed buildings each) such as 10-9 and 10-9 Magnet.

Photo of Shibuya Crossing, 2 Dogenzaka, Shibuya City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Shibuya Crossing, 2 Dogenzaka, Shibuya City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Day 3

The one thing that you have to do on a trip to Japan is visit Mt Fuji. The incredibly vast volcano is covered with snow at all times, and the panoramic views from all around are not something you'll easily forget.
The easiest way to get near Mt Fuji is to take a train from the Tokyo station, which will be free if you have a tourist Japan Railway Pass. If you intend to travel around Japan by rail or even spend a significant amount of time in Tokyo, getting this pass will make your life much easier due to the extremely efficient and convenient metro lines in the city.

Photo of Mount Fuji, Kitayama, Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Mount Fuji, Kitayama, Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Mount Fuji, Kitayama, Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Mount Fuji, Kitayama, Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Day 4

Time for some shopping!
Tokyo is every bit as expensive as London or New York, there is no doubt about that. But if you have some time and money to spend, shopping at local stores in Tokyo definitely pays off. The quality of the apparel in stores is unbeatable, and designs are varied and available for most shapes and sizes.
If you're looking to shop on the street, the Asakusa district has a large selection of stores on the roads next to Senso-ji.
The Ginza district in Tokyo is the place to go to if you're interested in luxurious buys, with pretty much every big-buck brand you can name from across the world in one area.
Akihabara is an otaku-lover's paradise, and is also the bets place to shop for electronics and anime related souvenirs.
For teenagers and young adults, Shibuya and Shinjuku are the shopping districts to be at. There are plenty of cafés, diners, and restaurants all around, so you could easily spend a whole day shopping and binging on all sorts of food here (pictured: Tonkatsu Shoyu ramen with nori seaweed and naruto fish).

Photo of Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Day 5

Kyoto is about three hours from Tokyo by rail. The city is filled with temples and museums, and the Gion district is highlighted for spotting Geishas in full attire.

The Kiyomizu-dera temple is situated on top of a hill, and is one of the main attractions in Kyoto. The views of the city from here are stunning, and the road leading up to the temple is lined with souvenir and food stores. The temple itself has vast grounds and is beautifully constructed.

Photo of Kiyomizu-dera, 1 Chome-294 Tatsumicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Kiyomizu-dera, 1 Chome-294 Tatsumicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Kiyomizu-dera, 1 Chome-294 Tatsumicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Kiyomizu-dera, 1 Chome-294 Tatsumicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Kiyomizu-dera, 1 Chome-294 Tatsumicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan by Aishwarya Raj

The Kyoto Imperial Palace is another extremely popular attraction. The grounds of the palace are vast, and the gardens as well as the structures are perfectly maintained despite being thousands of years old.

Dinner (pictured) - grilled beef with miso soup, prawn tempura, sashimi, gari tsukemono and sticky rice.

Photo of Kyoto Imperial Palace, 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Kyoto Imperial Palace, 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Kyoto Imperial Palace, 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Kyoto Imperial Palace, 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Kyoto Imperial Palace, 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Day 6

Hiroshima is only an hour away from Kyoto by train, so taking a day trip to the city is super convenient. What was once the target of an atomic bomb is now a flourishing city.
Places to visit include the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park (where the A-bomb dome still stands as a reminder of the horrors that Hiroshima has seen), as well as the Hiroshima Castle, a large palace with panoramic views of the city.

Photo of Hiroshima, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Hiroshima, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Hiroshima, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Hiroshima, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Photo of Hiroshima, Japan by Aishwarya Raj
Day 7

I took a train back to Tokyo from Kyoto, and spent the day at leisure. Simply walking around the streets of Tokyo is an experience, as the modern and hustle-bustle of the city is tempered by the cultivated greenery and clean streets, unlike most densely-populated cities in the world.

All in all, Japan has everything I was looking for in a trip - extremely friendly people, incredible food and culture, and beautiful infrastructure and topography.

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