2016 Classic Japan Autumn Tour Report
Our autumn tour started off with 3 days in Japan’s capital city, Tokyo (東京), home to 37 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area in the world.
It’s no surprise that there are endless things to do in Tokyo, and it is currently undergoing even more development in preparation for its role as the host city for the 2020 Olympic Games.
We based ourselves in Ginza, right in the heart of Tokyo and famous worldwide as a luxury shopping district. Peter and Michele arrived early to Tokyo so we were able to start our tour early.
The first place that we visited was Meijijingu Shrine, one of Tokyo’s most popular shrines located in a beautiful forest in the middle of Tokyo. We were here on the weekend before the Shichi-Go-San Festival (七五三, Seven-Five-Three), a traditional rite of passage and festival day for 3 and 7-year-old girls, and 3 and 5-year-old boys. Many families were celebrating this day with their children, who were beautifully dressed in kimono. There were several Shinto wedding ceremonies being held too and all the brides looked stunning wearing their traditional white wedding kimono and distinctive bridal hood.
After Meijijingu, we made our way to Odaiba Bay. This is the first time we’ve visited this part of Tokyo on a tour, and we were here to check out the fascinating architecture of the Fuji TV building, the ever popular Gundam statue, and enjoy the wide open space and atmosphere of Odaiba.
On Day 2, we started off with a morning visit to Tsukiji Market, the largest fish market in the world and famous for its tuna auction. It was a hive of activity inside the market with a seemingly endless variety of seafood on offer for sale. We finished our visit to Tsukiji Market with a delicious sushi breakfast.
Views of Mount Fuji
Hakone was our next destination so we headed south on our first ride on Japan’s famous high speed train, the shinkansen.
Hakone is one of Japan’s most popular travel destinations owing to its scenery, onsen and views of Mount Fuji. We visited the Hakone Museum of Art again this year and were treated to a spectacular display of autumn colours at their very peak amongst the beautiful moss and landscape garden.
The following morning, we rose up early and caught a clear view of Mount Fuji. We finished off our time in Hakone with a trip up the ropeway where we were lucky enough to be able to visit the volcanic area of Owakudani. For much of 2015 and 2016, access to Owakudani was closed off due to excessive volcanic gases.
Japan’s most beautiful castle
Our next destination was Himeji, home to Japan’s most famous castle. One of only 12 original castles in the country, Himeji Castle is widely considered to be Japan’s most beautiful castle and has survived for over 400 years.
Himeji Castle has undergone a restoration and cleaning in recent years. Work is still continuing on the exterior walls and minor structures within the castle complex but the main keep really looks fantastic at the moment, befitting the castle’s nickname of “White Heron Castle” (白鷺城, Shirasagijo).
We finished off our time in Himeji with a visit to Kokoen Garden just next door to Himeji Castle. This small garden is often overlooked by visitors but is absolutely beautiful in autumn and features 9 separate walled gardens designed in Edo period styles.
Hiroshima ＋ Miyajima（広島と宮島）
Memorial to peace & the floating torii