Osaka Station Sky Farm and Japanese Garden

Ever wanted to visit a Japanese garden and do a bit of farming at the top of a skyscraper above a huge train station? Ok, maybe not, but I’m sure you can admit the idea of Tenku No Noen (Sky Farm) and Yawaragi no Niwa (Healing Garden) are pretty cool. They offer good views over theContinue reading “Osaka Station Sky Farm and Japanese Garden”

Sumiyoshi Taisha

Sumiyoshi-taisha (住吉大社), or the Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine, is Osaka’s most famous shrine. It is the headquarters of over 2000 Shinto shrines across Japan and believed to enshrine 3 gods, for protecting the nation, sea voyages and waka (31-syllable) poetry. Registered as a national treasure, it also has a few unique aspects to it. The most interestingContinue reading “Sumiyoshi Taisha”

Kamigamo Shrine

Kamigamo Shrine (上賀茂神社), twinned with Shimogamo Shrine to the south, is an important Shinto shrine in northern Kyoto. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is known across the country for its iconic Tatesuna & Saiden sand cones. The shrine is also surrounded by a picturesque primeval forest. Budget travel tips Visiting shrines can getContinue reading “Kamigamo Shrine”

Daigoji Temple

Daigoji Temple (醍醐寺) is a picturesque Buddhist temple in south Kyoto. While a bit run down in places, the main pagoda and red bridge are iconic sites that set Daigoji Temple apart from all the other countless temples in Kyoto. It is also quieter than the other ones, due to being about 30 minutes fromContinue reading “Daigoji Temple”

Hagi

Hagi (萩) is a castle town, little visited by foreign tourists. The town is full of history, particulary from the Meiji Restoration period. The town is also known for its traditional pottery, called Hagi-yaki. Budget travel tips It’s quite a journey to get here, so seriously consider taking a night bus or use a Limited Express trainContinue reading “Hagi”

Tsuwano

Tsuwano (津和野), often called “little Kyoto”, is a small castle town in Chugoku. Budget travel tips Like nearby Hagi, a great place to explore on foot or bicycle (800 yen per day) in a day. Things to do Site of Tsuwano Castle The towns castle was a huge mountain top one, and the remains areContinue reading “Tsuwano”

Bitchu-Takahashi

For some reason completely unknown to most tourists, including Japanese tourists, Bitchu-Takahashi (備中高梁) presented one of the most surprising castles we have ever visited. After visiting nearby cities and towns such as Okayama and Kurashiki, Bitchu-Takahashi  was a breath of fresh air. It’s an average town, but with a scattering of fascinating and traditional relicsContinue reading “Bitchu-Takahashi”

Kyoto Railway Museum

Kyoto Railway Museum (京都鉄道博物館) is a brand new museum showing off all the latest train technology, as well as in-depth exhibitions on railway history in Japan and abroad. The museum all hosts plenty of hands-on experiences for all ages, from train simulators to model trains, plus visitors can ride on a steam train. Budget travelContinue reading “Kyoto Railway Museum”

Tottori

Tottori (鳥取) is the most popular city in northern Chugoku, best known for its sand dunes (the largest in Japan) and associated sand museum. Budget travel tips Pick up a Look Kirinjishi Bus pass from the train station Tourist Information Center, which takes visitors to all the main tourist spots. Available on weekends, national holidaysContinue reading “Tottori”

Kurashiki

Kurashiki (倉敷) is a historic town near Okayama known for its merchant past and old-fashioned canal, which dates back to the Edo period. The area has some interesting museum, cafes and restaurants to experience, most of which are housed in tastefully converted merchant buildings. A lovely place to spend a relaxing day, just strolling around andContinue reading “Kurashiki”