JAPAN 2017

Japan, situated in northeast Asia, is said to be “a fascinating balance of unique heritage and culture, contrasting with the sprawling metropolises of the world’s most advanced technological civilisation”. The population is 127 million, which makes Japan the world’s 10th largest country.
Japan is made up of four main islands – Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku. The Japanese name for Japan is “Nippon” or “Nihon”, which means “sun origin” and is often translated as “Land of the Rising Sun”. Japan’s capital is Tokyo, which has a population of 9.1 million. Japan has 6,852 islands and a great way to explore the Land of the Rising Sun is by sea. We will spend 4 days in Kyoto and then board the MS Caledonian Sky (sister ship to MS Island Sky that we did our Norway and Baltic cruises in August 2015). On our journey we will “voyage around the stunning coastline and offshore islands of the archipelago, and discover ancient castles, serenely beautiful gardens and opulent temples and shrines”. At the end of our cruise, we will take the Shinkansen Bullet Train from Kanazawa to Tokyo for three days’ sightseeing as part of our APT tour and then the two of us will stay in Tokyo for a further three days for more sightseeing on our own.

Tuesday 23 May 2017 Brisbane to Osaka, Japan
The first part of our adventure commenced on Tuesday 23 May 2017 at 2.30pm, with our Singapore Airlines flight from Brisbane to Singapore on board an Airbus A330-300. After a comfortable flight, we arrived at Singapore Changi Airport at 10.50pm and went for a wander around this now very familiar airport. We had a cuppa at our favourite café and at 1.25am we boarded our next flight on an Airbus A330-300 for our 2.25am flight to Osaka in Japan.
Wednesday 24 May 2017 Osaka – Main Island – Honshu
We managed to get about 3 or 4 hours broken sleep, before our flight landed in Osaka at 8.40am. After clearing Immigration and Customs, we were met by an APT Representative, who took us and another 5 people who are on our APT tour, in a luxurious mini-bus for the 1.5 hour journey to our hotel in Kyoto. Kyoto was chosen as the capital of Japan in 794 and was the residence of the Japanese family until 1868. Because of the strong influence of aristocrats, warriors and religious areas, many Japanese ideas, culture and practices were created and established here.
We were impressed with the highway from Osaka to Kyoto – it was built above the houses and we crossed several bridges, which connected the little islands. Along the way we saw Osaka City, its sprawling suburbs, an agricultural area amongst the high-rise buildings and houses, before arriving in Kyoto. The day was overcast but remained fine. Our driver delivered us to the Kyoto Hotel Okura, where we will be staying for the next four nights. Kyoto Hotel Okura looks out on Higashiyama Mountains and Kyoto City streets – Kyoto is actually surrounded by mountains.
We were unable to check into our room until 3.00pm, so we had a snack in the hotel café with one of the other couples, before heading off on our own to explore the local area. We love their zebra crossings that chirp back and forth from one side of the crossing to the other when it is your turn to walk. We were impressed with the tree-lined streets and gardens, which are just starting to come into flower. We went past Kyoto City Hall, wandering along the streets until we came to the Kyoto Imperial Palace, which takes up the equivalent of several city blocks. We wandered through the grounds but were not able to get into the Palace or even see the inner sanctum of the old Palace because of its walled exterior. Three schoolgirls came up to us, asking in their minimum English if we would answer some questions for their school assignment, which we happily did and then had to sign each of their assignments. We saw the Muku Tree of the Shimizudani Residence, which is 300 years old and is one of many Muku Trees found in the Palace Grounds. This tree has been staked to help support it, because of its age.
At the end of our 2.5 hours exploring, we discovered a large underground shopping mall, called Zest Shopping Mall, adjacent to the Hotel where we stopped for a coffee/cold drink.
After settling into our room, we ventured out to the Underground Mall we had discovered earlier, which turns out to be under the Town Hall. We decided to eat in a little local restaurant, where the staff were lovely and with a bit of English and sign language we managed to order a beer for Richard, a Cola for Sandy (she tried lemonade/Sprite earlier, but ended up with a nice cold, but very tart lemon drink) and for dinner we had Rosukatsu Gohan – pork cutlet fillet crumbed with something? and served with finely shredded cabbage, boiled rice and some sauces. We also had some Furaido Poteto – fried potatoes ie wedges. We ate our dinner with chopsticks!
We came back up to our room to finish our blog and sort our photos, while looking at the lovely view out over Kyoto and the mountains, through a fine misty rain.

5 Responses to “JAPAN 2017”

  1. Maria Highes says:

    Interesting to learn of the culture and heritage of this amazing country – let the adventure begin 🙂 love us xx

  2. Katharine says:

    Glad to heer you got a beeru Dad and some Furaido Poteto! You should also try and have some Okonomiyaki while you’re there – very yummy.

  3. sandy says:

    Thanks Maria. The adventure has well and truly begun. It was so hard to choose just a few photos of our wonderful day!! xoxo

  4. sandy says:

    Thanks Katahrine. We will definintely try some Okonomiyaki while we are here. xoxo

  5. Maria Highes says:

    Again beautiful photos and interesting Blog – loving travelling along with you, love us xoxo

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