Japanese spirit

08/12/2015 - 08/26/2015
by kuba10


DAY 1-2 - flight from Prague to Düsseldorf and from Düsseldorf to Tokyo

DAY 3 - Tokyo - Shibuya, Meiji Shrine, Takeshita Street, Shinjuku

DAY 4 - Tokyo - Tokyo Skytree, Senso-ji Temple, Akihabara

DAY 5 - Tokyo - Tokyo Imperial Palace, Hamarikyu Gardens, Odaiba Beach

DAY 6 - Kamakura - Tsurugaoka Hachimangū, Hōkoku-ji and bamboo forest, Kōtoku-in, Daibutsu (Great Buddha), Hase-dera, Yuigahama Beach

DAY 7 - Nikko, Kegon Waterfall, Lake Chūzenji

DAY 8 - Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Taisha

DAY 9 - Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Higashiyama district, Kodaiji Temple, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, Philosopher's Path

DAY 10 - Kyoto - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Tenryu-ji Temple, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Heian Jingu Shrine

DAY 11 - Nara - Nara Park, Todaiji Temple, Mount Wakakusayama

DAY 12 - travel back to Tokyo

DAY 13-14 - climbing Mount Fuji (3 776 metres)

DAY 15 - flight from Tokyo to Düsseldorf and from Düsseldorf to Prague

DAY 1-2 - flight from Prague to Düsseldorf and from Düsseldorf to Tokyo

We have decided to visit my Erasmus friends in Japan. For me it was the most exotic experience I was about to make, so I was a little nervous beforehand. It was a long way from Prague to Narita Airport in Tokyo, but flight with All Nippon Airways was very pleasant.

It was amazing meeting our friends at the other side of the world after almost 2 years from our Erasmus studies in Sweden. 

DAY 3 - Tokyo - Shibuya, Meiji Shrine, Takeshita Street, Shinjuku

Our first place we visited in Tokyo was Shibuya. This district is famous especially for its big crossroad Center Gai and neon signs. This district is a major commercial and business centre, it is also known for its fashion shops and nightlife. My first impression from Tokyo was that this city is really huge. I have never been in such a crowded city as Tokyo. It is true that I couldn't have probably chosen more crowded place than Shibuya as my first encounter with Tokyo.

One of the best-known stories concerning Shibuya is the story of Hachiko, a dog who waited on his late master at Shibuya Station every day from 1923 to 1935, eventually becoming a national celebrity for his loyalty. A statue of Hachikō was built adjacent to the station, and the surrounding Hachikō Square is now the most popular meeting point in the area.

When you are around, it is worth visiting Meiji Shrine that is in walking distance from Center Gai. It is Shinto shrine and it is located in big forest, so if you want to take a break from crowded streets of Shibuya, this is the place to go.

After spending time in such a calm place as Meiji Shrine, visiting Takeshita Street is big shock. It is narrow and extremely crowded shopping street. You can admire all kinds of weirdly looking Japanese fashion.

We ended our first day in Shinjuku. It is large entertainment, business and shopping area around Shinjuku Station. You can find there skyscrapers district, but also Kabukicho - Japan's largest and wildest red light district with number of bars, nightclubs or love hotels.

DAY 4 - Tokyo - Tokyo Skytree, Senso-ji Temple, Akihabara

We started this day with going to the top of Tokyo Skytree that is broadcasting and observation tower and it is 634 high. The tower is quite new, it was opened in 2012. If you look around from top of it, you can see how vast this city is.

Japanese temples are very different from what you can see in Europe. It is hard to describe it, but you will definitely feel it when you see one. They are more connected to nature and Japanese gardens around calm you down. Senso-ji Temple is not that calm, because of all the visitors, but it is the oldest and most significant temple in Tokyo, so you should not miss it. You can also admire five-story pagoda adjacent to the temple.

For me Tokyo is the city of paradox. On one hand you can feel tradition and spiritual values, but on the other hand there are districts like Akihabara. It is so called "geek town" and shopping district for video games, anime and manga. As Buddhist temples this is part of Japanese culture as well.

DAY 5 - Tokyo - Tokyo Imperial Palace, Hamarikyu Gardens, Odaiba Beach

If you would like to glimpse the Emperor of Japan, you need to visit his residence - Tokyo Imperial Palace. You can get on tour inside the palace only couple of days a year, but the main reason we went there was to take a walk through beautiful East Garden of Imperial Palace. Japanese gardens is the thing I love the most about Japan. They are very calm, so it is perfect place for resting and thinking. They are made the way that each season you should see some blossoms.

After that we went to another Japanese garden, this time called Hamarikyu Gardens. There is a tea room in the heart of the garden, so we experienced tea ceremony with matcha - drink from green tea powder that you find on every corner in Japan.

To end the day we went to Odaiba Beach. It is popular place for Japanese to have fun with their friends. We saw many party boats cruising Tokyo Bay. This place also offers great view of Tokyo Bay and Rainbow Bridge.

DAY 6 - Kamakura - Tsurugaoka Hachimangū, Hōkoku-ji and bamboo forest, Kōtoku-in, Daibutsu (Great Buddha), Hase-dera, Yuigahama Beach

First trip out of Tokyo led us to Kamakura. This city is full of temples and shrines. You could spend many days exploring each of them. We chose the most important Shinto shrine in Kamakura Tsurugaoka Hachimangū. It is geographical and cultural centre of Kamakura, so it is good place to start.

Then we moved to Hōkoku-ji - old temple of Zen Buddhism. Main reason why we went there was bamboo garden also known as "Bamboo Temple". There is small tea room where we enjoyed cup of matcha tea with view of surrounding bamboo forest.

One of the most famous icon of Japan is Daibutsu also called "Great or Giant Buddha". One of these bronze statues lies in Kamakura's Kōtoku-in Temple. The statue is approximately 13 metres tall and looks at Kamakura as its mentor. The statue is hollow, so you can even see its interior.

In order to get to Hase-dera Temple, you have to ascend some metres, because its location is half-way up Mount Kamakura. The temple offers impressive view of Yuigahama Beach that was our last place we visited in Kamakura. When we reached the beach, it was very windy and beach was quite dirty, so we were not able to enjoy the beach properly.

DAY 7 - Nikko, Kegon Waterfall, Lake Chūzenji

The UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nikko is good for one day trip in Tokyo. The area encompasses around 100 buildings belonging to Futarasan jinja Shrine and Tōshō-gū Shrine. It is very popular place for tourists, so be prepared for larger amount of people. Nevertheless the area in the middle of forest full of decorated shrines is very beautiful.

From Nikko we took a bus to scenic Lake Chūzenji and Kegon Waterfall. Lake Chūzenji was perfect place for putting your feet into water and enjoying scenery around. Don't miss Nikkofutarasan Shrine Okumiya that is quite small, but very cosy and quiet.

DAY 8 - Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Maruyama Park, Yasaka Shrine, Kodaiji Temple, Philosopher's Path, Higashiyama District

If you want to move from Tokyo to Kyoto, the best way to do that is to take shinkansen - high-speed train with maximum speed over 300 km/h. It was great experience, the train doesn't shake at all and you just don't feel anything. I should also mention that they are very punctual.

When we arrived to Kyoto we went to special shop where we rented yukata dress for one day. It is summer version of traditional kimono. It is used for special occasions and for us the special occasion was visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. It is famous for its walking path that leads you through a tunnel of red torii gates. Torii gates symbolically mark the transition from the mundane to sacred and you find them in proximity of most temples and shrines in Japan.

Another look into Japanese tradition was to sleep and have a dinner in traditional Japanese inn called ryokan. They typically feature tatami-matted rooms and communal baths. I was lucky to be alone in their baths and I had it only for myself. The dinner in ryokan is also highly reputed and it was gourmand experience.

DAY 9 - Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Higashiyama district, Kodaiji Temple, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, Philosopher's Path

Kiyomizu-dera Temple is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is also called "Pure Water Temple" thanks to the fall's pure water. It is best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall. It offers nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees, but it used to be popular place for committing suicides.

In order to experience traditional old Kyoto, we went to Higashiyama district - the city's best preserved historic district with traditional shops, cafes and restaurants. It is the best way how to get from Kiyomizu-dera to Yasaka Shrine.

You should not miss Kodaiji Temple that was for me one of the top temples in Japan. It belongs to Zen Buddhism. Its garden is just amazing and it is paradise for photographers and garden lovers. One part of the garden is also bamboo groove.

We continued through Yasaka Shrine and Maruyama Park to Philosopher's Path where we enjoyed nice and calm walk by canal in shadow of numerous trees.

DAY 10 - Kyoto - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Tenryu-ji Temple, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Heian Jingu Shrine

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is one of the must-sees in Kyoto. It is quite far from centre of Kyoto, so it is good idea to take a bus or train. 

If you are already walking in Arashiyama district, you can visit temple of Zen Buddhism Tenryu-ji.

Then we returned to the city centre and went to see Kinkaku-ji Temple known also as "Golden Pavilion". It is astonishing Zen temple whose top floors are completely covered in gold leaf.

Our last stop was Heian Jingu Shrine and its adjacent gardens.

DAY 11 - Nara - Nara Park, Todaiji Temple, Mount Wakakusayama

Our next trip took us to Nara. The city is located less than hour from Kyoto. The Nara Park is home to hundreds of freely roaming deer. They are considered to be messengers of the gods. They have become a symbol of the city. You can even buy crackers and feed them.

The most significant landmark of Nara is Todaiji Temple. Its main hall is the world's largest wooden building. It is called "Daibutsuden" (Big Buddha Hall). Inside the main hall you find one of the Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha. It is 15 metres tall. Statue of Buddha is accompanied by other statues of its guards and two Bodhisattvas.

Then we went for a walk to Mount Wakakusayama that is about 350 metres tall and affords nice view of Nara City.

DAY 12 - travel back to Tokyo


DAY 13-14 - climbing Mount Fuji (3 776 metres)

There are several trails that lead to the top of Mount Fuji - the highest mountain of Japan. We took one of the easiest Yoshida Trail that starts in Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station. You can take bus from Tokyo to get there. 

Mount Fuji is an active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707-1708. Government of Japan is spending big amount of money on research, because they still see the eruption as potential danger. Its symmetrical cone is symbol of Japan and it is frequently used in art and photographs.

We decided to make our climb with sleeping in one of the huts that are on the way. So we started around 4 PM. The trail is quite monotonous, but views are spectacular. Many people climb during night to be at the top for the sunrise, but they are deprived of those views. It was a good choice to climb during daytime, because the path was not that crowded. 

We were slowly ascending until we arrived to Gorai-kou kan. This hut is located in 3 450 metres above sea level and it is the nearest hut to the top. My friend had some troubles with altitude sickness, she was having a headache, but one pill against headache helped her and she was fine. That was the only problem we had on the way. 

After short sleep we had to get up pretty early to catch the sunrise from the top. As it was peak climbing season, we were going in the line of many people having the same aim as we did. This part took around 2 hours and was a little annoying, but when we made it to the top, we didn't care at all. When you are up there you can even walk around the crater

It was quite cold, but seeing sunrise from Mount Fuji the top of the land of rising sun will stay in my memory forever.

DAY 15 - flight from Tokyo to Düsseldorf and from Düsseldorf to Prague

When we got back from Fuji to Tokyo, the weather was getting worse and worse - typhoon was coming. I was lucky to be able to leave Japan before typhoon hit Tokyo. I said goodbye to this amazing land while looking at the cone of Mount Fuji peeking out from clouds.

Very important part of every trip to Japan is tasting local cuisine. There are several meals to show you that Japan has a lot to offer in terms of its specialities. 

If you want to take a train to explore Japan, perhaps you will find this page interesting. You can buy there Japan Rail Pass that can save you a lot of money:


Create your own travel story

Try out our travel diary to keep your memories alive! Easily associate photos and videos with places you visited and share them with your friends or public.