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Land of the rising sun! And so it is! We had 2 trips to Japan. The first was only for a week, but it very importantly, gave us time to get a handle on Tokyo and its extensive public transport.

When we arrive in a new place, we always try to conquer the local public transport – then we are in control. Nowhere more important than Tokyo. It has very extensive subway system, but you need to be aware that payment for different lines may be a separate operation.

Anyway, the second trip was about a month, all on the main island of Honshu, from Tokyo to south of Hiroshima and back. As an artist, I was always a great admirer of Japanese art and always look for it in museums incl. Chester Beatty in Dublin, which has great collection.

Our visit was in early spring when it was quite cold and less crowded. All our travel was by train including the Bullet Train-Shinkansen. Following just gives an impression of this amazing country.


A heaving but very manageable city. We were based in Shinjiko, a very busy part of city. Access to rest was by subway. In terms of things to do, spoilt for choice. We really always have a couple of things – art, walkabout/see the people, visit places to experience people, history, geography, etc. So, suggested approach with a place such as Tokyo/Japan is to have research done in advance and have a loose, relaxed plan. Tokyo was previously named Edo, name changed in 1868 when capital moved from Kyoto

So in Tokyo to see:

  • Imperial Palace and gardens
  • National Museum
  • National Museum of Art
  • National Museum of Western Art
  • Nezu Fine Art
  • Asakusa area for walkabout
  • Ginza area for galleries (and shopping)



North west of Tokyo, set in a national park, Nikko dating from 8th century is a city of Temples, Shrines, Galleries and Torii (those special gates). Looking at the concentration, you cannot but be amazed by the artistry and skills that went into designing the buildings and shrines.


South of Tokyo, arrived at by boat across the bay. The “pirate ships” have to be seen to be believed – Kitch on water! Funicular cars ride to top of mountain, view of Fuji and smelly volcanic hot springs.


The train ride here (fast!) again allowed appreciation of the massive amount of greenery and low populated areas in Japan. This town is in the ancient Hida District in the mountains in north central Japan, lots of woods, mountains etc., which are reflected in the people and their skills. Due to time of year it was also a bit brass monkey. Great place for wandering and seeing the local country side. Town has many temples and museums incl. folk museum and interesting stuff like lacquerware carvings, including very elaborate festival floats.


Remembered by most for the wrong reason, Hiroshima, which was levelled, has been rebuilt as a thriving, liveable, friendly and attractive place. The Abomb dome is the symbol of less happy times. There are many attractions and places to visit, depending on your interest.


This was one of our main target destinations and it didn’t disappoint. Originally capital of Japan it is its cultural heart. It has many things to see and do. You can spend a long time here just finding new hidden gems and other stuff. It includes numerous temples, shrines, museums, castle, old wooden houses, tea houses and parks including the famous Golden Temple set in its exquisite garden. There is lots of opportunity for other activities – sampling the delicious food, gazing at the geisha shows and admiring the suma giants. You’d just never run out of stuff to do here.

Himeji And Miyajima

Himeji is the one must see castle in Japan, called white egret because of its colour, it is truly majestic. From 1580, its 5 stories dominate the surrounds.

Miyajima – interesting place to visit with its tame deer and pickins rich sand and numerous sea Torii.

Kintai-kyo- 5-Arched Bridge at Iwakuni

We travelled a long way to see this famous bridge built in 1673 and often painted by Japanese artists. It’s a great feel in to be beside something so familiar which, in itself is a work of art.

Hokusai Painting


We have included some food images. Food and drink are a way of life in Japan. Japanese tea parties are well known. We were lucky enough to participate in some full blown 15 course “feasts”. These were very pleasurable.

Even the takeaways are an experience – example the multi-component Bento box. Health is a big deal – quite a number of items are certified beneficial to health – e.g. green tea and probiotics. Vending of hot and cold drinks is common. Restaurants display attractive meal selections.
(p.s. the auld drink ain’t bad either!)

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