3 min read 1 Comment

こんにちは  -Kon'nichiwa Japan!
With a 14-day train pass and a single bag of carry-on luggage, we discovered Tokyo-Kyoto-Kanazawa-Takayama & Hakone.

 Australians tend to link travel + skiing  to Japan, but it was the beauty of cherry blossom season that drew us here … In just two weeks  ~ we discovered that the Sakura season means more to the Japanese than it could ever mean to us.                                              

           But first Tokyo. Everything I knew about Japan was from the movie Lost in Translation. Foolishly we left Australia without a phrasebook or dictionary. It turns out that Japan is very Japanese - from neon lights to lanterns and late starts. It was Good, Good Not Bad, when we found a coffee spot that opened early.  
From afar, Tokyo looks like a daunting labyrinth...but once you are on street level, buildings, cafes, and restaurants have an extraordinary human-scale intimacy and a myriad of ways to use tiles.

      The blooming of blossoms symbolizes human life, transience and nobleness. Parks and walkways were filled with Japanese people on holiday, celebrating and cherishing the short lifetime of the trees in full bloom, with many gatherings for parties known as hanami, 
 花見, - "flower viewing".

It was a wonderful opportunity to see many young women ( and men) having their photos taken in traditional dress. I particularly loved the art of the obi ~ the decorative piece of cloth tied around the waist over a kimono, a wide sash or belt made of satin or stiff silk material-  worn since ancient times in Japan to secure the kimono.


But be forewarned, there will be crowds. Use the day wisely.  Visit Pontocho Alley, at dusk and gardens early in the morning.  We highly recommend getting bikes to zip around Kyoto, its easy to fit in The Philosopher's Path , the fabulous Nanzen-ji Temple and gardens, as well as riding through the Gion district in a day. 


Of course, there were other beautiful distractions, temples, shrines, antiques, old doors, art, galleries and some damn good ramen. In the book,  Handmade in Japan, it is observed the elongated archipelago is a key factor for the diversity and regional differences that result in the high skill level of Japanese craftspeople. 

 Japanese craftspeople care deeply about the way things are made and have an immense appreciation for humble objects and their origins. 

 I loved many of the patterns of Japan. Seigaiha,is probably one of the most famous, this pattern is symbolic of waves of water and represents surges of good luck. It can also signify power and resilience.

Read more about Wagara here (traditional Japanese patterns)

Japanese gardens are a cultural art form, we stayed in Kanazawa to see Kenrokuen Garden, one of the top three gardens of Japan. It was beautiful by day and by night.  The name, Kenrokuen translates as a garden of six sublimities – spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, water sources & magnificent views.

We feasted on tempura prawns, sushi, ramen and soba noodles and sidestepped some overly fishy fish. We found the most Parisian of sweets far from France  … I’m not a super fan of the Ningo-yaki, small cakes baked in tiny moulds filled with sweet anko bean paste, but they were a cute part of our Japanese food experience…

For first-time visitors to Japan, we had plenty of highs and a few lows - it wouldn't be travel otherwise. We loved bike riding in Kyoto, strolling the old streets of Takayama and visiting the outdoor museum in Hakone (oh, and we happened to see Mt Fuji there too)

Modern Japan is a place of old and new, of East, meets West, of tradition and technology -  just look at the state-of-the-art Shinkansen trains.

Of dark and light, and black and white. 


ありがとうArigatō. Thank you Japan.
またねMata ne. See you again !

1 Response

Hannah cutts

July 09, 2023

Thankyou for that lovely article.
I want to go now so I want the details please

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Words & Pictures

Q & A: Matilda Dumas
Q & A: Matilda Dumas

2 min read

Q & A with Matilda Dumas | New Artwork
Read More
Hello Autumn 🍂 Interiors
Hello Autumn 🍂 Interiors

2 min read

If you live in the Northern Rivers, there's a sense of relief as the summer heat slips away...
Read More
Summer Captures
Summer Captures

1 min read

Summer at home ... best idea ever.
Read More