This post is a little late, but I had to share.
Last October (2011), I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Japan. I have always wanted to visit such a culture rich country, full of colour, history and life! I stopped by Nagoya and met up with a school friend and her boyfriend – Natalie & Shin, I cannot say how much I appreciate what you did for us! Tsumago and Magome was amazing! We walked between these villages as part of the Nakasendo Highway – I have to admit, this has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We just hiked, that’s it. But it was one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen – it was just green and blue, how the world should be. You walked into people from around the world, taking in the clean air and the clear sky. All I kept thinking was what Japan would be like back in the 10-15th centuries, when the Samurai were at their peak. Could you imagine that? Walking in the same streets they did, seeing the mountains they saw…now I’m getting all sentimental.
Other cities I visited were Osaka (mmm tako yaki!), Hiroshima, Kyoto (my favourite by far!), Himeji, Tokyo and Kamakura. I think Kyoto was the richest in everything – culture, food, craft…I couldn’t get enough of it. My favourite place in Kyoto was Fushimi Inari-taisha, the shrine at the bottom of Inari mountain. I tried going up right to the top, but the day was too wet to climb up on slippery shoes. On the way down though, I still ended up slipping. It was totally worth it though! I was able to catch a glimpse of a geisha one night – so many tourists just waited outside her house and waited for her to come out and get into a taxi, it was as if a famous celebrity lived there.
Another great experience was visiting Himeji-jo, one of Japan’s oldest and largest heritage-listed castles. It’s currently being restored (another excuse to go back to Japan in a few years). It’s amazing how it was built and long it has been standing. The people every where are amazing, extremely kind and patient. Even if you don’t speak any Japanese at all, they will try and help you. They are diplomatic, caring and hospitable.
Anyways, I think one of my favourite things to do while travelling is watching people. You sit down at a bench, take out the camera, and just watch and learn. See if any interesting characters stand out of the crowd and catch your eye.
I cannot wait until I go back to Japan, but for the time being, these photos will preserve my memories :). I have added a few photos here, selection from each city. I hope you enjoy!