"Nihon sugoi desu! (Japan is wonderful!)" Top 5 Page for this destination Japan by Pixiekatten
Japan Travel Guide: 20,048 reviews and 56,056 photos
My first visit to Japan was in early spring 2005. I kind of tagged along with a friend who went there to do some work for her University. She wanted company and I needed a vaccation. Japan amazed me from day one. I went there for only 2 weeks back then. But the splendor of the Kansai region captured me and I swore to come back to see more. My fascination grew stronger and stronger during the 2 weeks - Koyasan, Nara and Kyoto grew on me and I didnt want to leave! The huge differences is what got to me the most. How the neon-glowing, pulsating and ultramodern cities like Tokyo and Osaka were like other worlds compared to more traditional life in smaller towns where all one could see was ricefield after ricefield. I was amazed by how old and new met and shook hands in Kyoto. Expensive shopping malls and Starbucks on one side of the river, and teahouses and geisha on the other.
So in 2006 I returned to this country I had fallen in love with the year before. I arrived at Kansai International Airport the first week in May, in time to experience Golden Week. The buzz was amazing but after that weekend ended I got to see a side of the country I had never imagined. No crowds anywhere. Several hostels I arrived at were empty except for me. It was a strange feeling but of course I still had an amazing time. This time I was in Japan on my own and I got around by using Shinkansen. One thing is for sure, I cannot get enough of these superfast trains! And I just couldn't get enough of Japan...
In 2007 I was in South Korea and being so close to Japan I couldn't help myself but to jump on a ferry in Busan and head for Shimonoseki. And although I was a bit short on time I still think this trip was the best (sofar). First of all I had picked up a little Japanese over the time (been a good gal and studied at home) so I felt more confident. Also I had been to most of the cities before and didn't need a map anymore to find my way around. I felt comfortable enough just to head out and hit the streets with only my instinct to guide me. Biggest difference was of course that at every hostel I met tons of good people. It was peak season and this time I wasn't alone anywhere. I made a lot of new friends and experienced my first VT-meeting ever in Kyoto. Before I left I also got to be a part of the wonderful Gion Matsuri buzz. It is busy but a bliss!
In 2009 I returned and since I had the JR pass I whisked around big parts of the country. From Hakodate in the north to Miyazaki in the south. It was autumn and I got to witness the trees turning first yellow and then blood red. I was yet again on my own but as usual I met many terrific people along the way. A highlight was definitely the Rider House in Aso. Big dinner in the evening with all the people who stayed there. We played games and drank sake on the terrace. During the daytime we climbed the volcano, still active and fuming!
This year (2013) I headed to Shikoku to walk parts of the Pilgrimage. I brought a tent and a good pair of shoes. I have heard mixed things about the hike. Some had imagined it as a tranquil walk along silent paths. This is far from the reality and I can see why some were disappointed. However it was a fantastic experience for me. I quite enjoyed the big route 56 after having spent days on end crawling up mountains in the scorching July sun! I camped and did Shukubo, temple stay. One is free and the latter can be quite expensive but worth it. Futon and cooked meals are heaven after sleeping on the ground and eating bags of dried banana and nuts because that was all there was left in the bag and there aint many shops in the rural county side! ; ) I recommend the pilgrimage to anyone who wants a quiet adventure. Look out for mamushi (deadly vipers) and if you're hiking in the summer - bring swimming gear! The coast of Shikoku is grand!!
Back to Kyoto
Osaka - incl daytrip to Himeji
Kyoto - incl daytrip to Kameoka & Arashiyama
Shimonoseki - incl daytrip to Hiroshima
Beppu - incl daytrip to Usuki
Hakata - incl daytrip to Nagasaki
Osaka - incl daytrip to Matsumoto
Kyoto - incl daytrip to Kobe
Hiroshima - incl daytrip to Miyajima
Kagoshima - incl daytrip to Sakurajima
Shikoku Island - Matsuyama
Yup, I headed back to Japan once again this year! :) This time my route was as followed:
Shikoku (the Pilgrimage)
Shimanami Kaido (The 7 bridges over 7 islands)
Shimonoseki (to take ferry to Korea)
Kyoto (flying back here from Seoul and here ends the journey)
Can't wait!!!! :))
I had my worries when I in 2006 decided I wanted to do Japan on my own. Having read and heard about chikan, men who feel up women and girls on packed trains, I had second thoughts on travelling the country by myself by train. But I had already paid and recieved my JR PASS vouchers so I had to trust my common sence and my ability to tell creeps to f**ck off! Still of course, I had some sleepless nights.
But that year all went well. Not one incidents during the whole trip. Both at that trip and during the one I did this summer in 2007 I met a lot of gals travelling on their own and none of us have had any bad experiences.
Japan is probably one of the safest countries in the world for solo female travellers. People are really helpful, friendly and treat you with respect. But this doesn't mean one can ignore the fact that things of course can happen. There is never room for being careless, not in Japan, not anywhere!
- But people are generally very kind and helpful. Twice has it happened to me that someone has given me one of their umbrellas and walked me all way to my hotel in pouring rain when I been lost!!
During the Shikoku pilgrimage I walked by myself for 6 weeks. A few times I hitched a ride and I was camping in a small one person tent several times. I felt safe where ever I went!
- In a nutshell:I just keep coming back!
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