Last December, we headed off for two weeks of adventure in Japan. For those of you who know us, we are big lovers of Japan. We’ve visited Japan for the last two years and we had to go back to explore more of the country this time.
During the first week of traveling around Japan, we covered Fujisan, Hakone, Nara, Osaka, Nagano, Kanazawa and Shirakawa. After arriving in Tokyo on our first day, we headed straight to Fujisan. We traveled between cities using the Japan rail pass and stayed in a mix of AirBnB and hotels. Most of the time, I prefer to pick accommodations that are close to the point of interest as this reduces the time it takes to get to the place and we can spend more time enjoying the location.
So let’s start off with some photos from Days 1 to 3 of Fujisan, Hakone and Nara.
After arriving late evening at Fujisan, our first dinner was a simple meal bought from Family Mart. Family Mart and Lawsons are a god-send for us as our times hardly align with the majority of restaurants and cafes. Day 1 at Fujisan, we left our hotel at 6am to make our way to Chureito Pagoda. We snacked on bread and yoghurt drinks whilst waiting for the sunrise. There was a young couple already there with their cameras. May tried out a timelapse for the first time with her Olympus camera whilst I set up my drone for its flight in Japan. We were later joined by a Japanese businessman, Hiromu-san who sat quietly and watched the sunrise too. After spending over 2 hours there, we started to head back down. Hiromu-san was also leaving and caught up to us as we’d been stopping here and there to take pictures whilst walking down. He asked us if we were staying far and said he was passing the station and offered us a lift! Now usually in any other country you’d think this was stranger danger, but this is Japan! We initially declined but he insisted so we took up his offer. In the car, he told us of his job and how he was visiting Fuji and that it was his first time too. When we got to the hotel, we invited him to join us for breakfast as a way to thank him for the lift. We talked about each of our travels and the differences between the UK and Japan, as well as exchanging email contacts (hello Hiromu-san if you are reading this!)
After breakfast, we packed and made our way to the next stop – Hakone. Hakone wasn’t really on our initial itinerary but we decided to make a stop after asking some friends for recommendations outside of Tokyo. After several connections, we arrived at Hakone early evening. We quickly lugged our trolleys up the steep hills to the AirBnB, dropped off our stuff and headed back down the hills again. Sadly it was too late to explore the outdoor sculpture art museum so we opted for Owakudai’s sulphur valley instead. We took the local train up the valley and then jumped onto the cable car. It was extremely windy that day so getting a steady shot of the aerial view was tricky – not to mention my fear of heights.
The view was incredible. The steam escaping from the vents and the colourful sediments and stinky eggy smells were not too dissimilar to that of the geothermal area of Iceland’s Seltun. When we reached the top, we had about 10 minutes of quick snapshots before the last cable car down. The wind was so strong that the 10 minutes was more than enough and as we dashed back in the last cable car down, we finished the evening with some hot ramen cooked by an old granny in a local restaurant that looked like it’d been trapped in a 70’s timewarp before we called it a night.
The next morning we made our way to Nara. We had breakfast on the Shinkansen and arrived late afternoon. After checking-in at the hotel, we took the circle bus to the temple to see the famous deers. When we got to the park, there were tourists and deers everywhere. We got a bit carried away taking pictures of every deer in sight. I scouted out the temple area whilst May was occupying herself with trying to get the deers to bow. The next morning we came to the temple before dawn. The temple grounds were empty and no deers had woken up yet. When the biscuit sellers started to arrive and set up shop, we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to take some shots of us with the deer. Big mistake! When you’re the only person holding a stack of deer biscuits and these guys had just woken up expecting breakfast, be prepared to run hahaha. As soon as the biscuits went from the seller’s hands to May’s hands, she was surrounded by at least 8 deers and there were more coming! I couldn’t get any shots as I was busy trying to rescue her from being prodded and nipped at by the hungry deers. The sellers thought it was funny at least. We made a quick getaway by eventually just throwing all the biscuits on the floor and decided not to attempt another round of pictures with them.
We decided to walk back to the hotel as we wanted to stop off at, what we were told, was a famous mochi shop. Sadly they weren’t open when we got there (it was 9am and they open at 10) so we opted for an early lunch by the time we reached the vicinity of our hotel.
Next stop .. and next post… Kanazawa, Shiragawa, Nagano…
Track- Gravy Beats/Shinigami
Words by May
Photos shot on EOS M3
continue part 2