Japan 2016: Enjoying the crisp Autumn air of Nakameguro in November

Meguro River, Nakameguro, Tokyo Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan

Since we’d already been to all the essential must-visit spots around Tokyo over the last few years (y’know, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa, and all that), we made it our priority this time around to avoid the well-trodden areas and to hit up more obscure parts of the city. Cue Nakameguro, which is pretty famous for its cherry tree-lined river and tranquil streets.

The area around the Meguro River is enchanting in Autumn, when the hidden late morning sun shrouds the quiet walkways in silver light. While Nakameguro certainly is a bit of a ghost town on weekdays, James and I quite enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere, plus it was something we probably needed at the start of our week-long finally-some-time-away-from-work vacation in Japan.

Continue reading “Japan 2016: Enjoying the crisp Autumn air of Nakameguro in November”

Hiking up Mount Takao (高尾山, Takaosan) will literally take your breath away

Takaosan, Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan Takaosan, Hachiōji, Tokyo, JapanTakaosan, Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan

If you’re in the mega-city of Tokyo for a week and need to get away from the concrete and crowds for a moment, there’s no better place to go than on a nature-filled hike up picturesque Takaosan 高尾山 (“Mount Takao”). Only 50 minutes by train from Shinjuku, it makes for a convenient and memorable day trip for anyone with a penchant for the outdoors. In fact, plenty of Tokyoites make the journey to Takaosan because of its accessibility (yes, believe it or not, the mountain is still actually considered part of metropolitan Tokyo), and because it’s just really, really pretty up there.

Continue reading “Hiking up Mount Takao (高尾山, Takaosan) will literally take your breath away”

Kyoto Aquarium @ Umekoji Park, Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto Aquarium Kyoto Aquarium

Well, it was bound to happen! We’ve done Sumida Aquarium and Osaka Aquarium Kaiyūkan. Now, we can cross Kyoto Aquarium (京都水族館, Kyōto Suizokukan) off our Japanese Aquariums list! Located in the northern part of Umekoji Park, the modern complex of Kyoto Aquarium is a relaxing 10 to 15 minute walk from Kyoto Station. Continue reading “Kyoto Aquarium @ Umekoji Park, Kyoto, Japan”

Visiting Shirakawa-gō & Staying the Night in a Traditional Gasshō-Zukuri Farmhouse

Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō

Shirakawa-gō (白川郷) is a place I never thought I’d visit in my lifetime. From all the pictures I’d seen, the timeless, isolated region struck me as a mystical land so far-removed from the modern twenty-first-century civilisation most of us picture Japan to be. Tokyo is overrun with towering skyscrapers, Osaka is swathed in an ocean of neon lights, and Kyoto houses more than a million souls. It seems Shirakawa-gō has missed the evolution memo, opting instead to preserve its ancient heritage amid remote mountains and thick forestry.

Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō

Continue reading “Visiting Shirakawa-gō & Staying the Night in a Traditional Gasshō-Zukuri Farmhouse”

Visiting Zenkō-ji Temple + Nagano Photo Diary 2015

Visiting Zenkō-ji Temple, Nagano, Japan Visiting Zenkō-ji Temple, Nagano, Japan Visiting Zenkō-ji Temple, Nagano, Japan

Due to the long cross-country journey we had to make to get from Fujikawaguchiko to Shirakawa-gō, James and I decided to stop overnight in the sleepy inland city of Nagano. Nestled in the mountain ranges of the Northern Alps, Nagano has long been a place of pilgrimage. Its most famous temple, the Zenkō-ji Temple, is situated in a prominent position to the north of the city and draws more than four million visitors each year. Continue reading “Visiting Zenkō-ji Temple + Nagano Photo Diary 2015”

Tennōji Zoo, Osaka – Japan’s Third Oldest Zoo

Lions at Tennōji Zoo, Osaka Mandarin Ducks at Tennōji Zoo, Osaka

Just a handful of animal photos, all taken at the Tennōji Zoo in Osaka. Not the best zoo I’ve ever been to. Opened in 1915 as Japan’s third oldest zoo, it celebrated its 100th birthday this year, and its age certainly shows. Many of the enclosures are small and we noticed some of the larger animals exhibiting signs of listlessness. Then again, at only ¥500 to get in (about AUD 5.80), it’s a wonder they make enough to keep such a large place running. I wouldn’t have minded paying a higher admission fee to help the zoo improve some of their enclosures. Continue reading “Tennōji Zoo, Osaka – Japan’s Third Oldest Zoo”

The Terrifying Japanese Folktale of Mt. Kachi Kachi

Mt. Kachi Kachi, Kawaguchiko Mt. Kachi Kachi, KawaguchikoMt. Kachi Kachi, Kawaguchiko

Let me tell you a seriously messed up story that involves a homicidal tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) and a vengeful rabbit. Of course, there are many variations to this disturbing tale out there, but here’s the version I found online. I’d better warn you: it’s not pretty. Continue reading “The Terrifying Japanese Folktale of Mt. Kachi Kachi”

Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyūkan) @ Tempozan Harbour Village, Osaka Bay Area

Osaka Aquarium Neon Tetra Osaka Aquarium Osaka Aquarium Jellyfish

“Jeez, is it school holidays or something? This place is packed!” 

Somehow, I’d convinced James to let me drag him to the Osaka Aquarium (海遊館). It’d be like a romantic date, I assured him. Secretly, I just wanted to take cool pictures of aquatic creatures and fantasise about the possibility of keeping rare species in my own home. James’ role was relegated to being the “photographer’s assistant” – a role that he assured me he didn’t mind (he probably did). Unfortunately for me, and fortunately for James I suppose, the aquarium had become a temporary can of sardines that day (there’s probably a pun in there somewhere) and taking photos was almost impossible with the number of kids (and adults!) jostling their way to the front. I believe I gave up being a photographer at some point and the aquarium visit did end up becoming a date after all. Continue reading “Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyūkan) @ Tempozan Harbour Village, Osaka Bay Area”