3 Weeks in Japan – Part 4: Kagoshima & Yakushima

After a 5 hour train ride we arrived in Kagoshima for the night. Last stop before Yakushima!

It’s not the prettiest of all cities, but there are some nice parks and a view of the Sakurajima volcano.

 

kagoshima japan Sakurajima volcano

 

In the evening we went to Kagomma Furusato Yataimura, a food street close to the train station, where we ate some delicious Shabu Shabu while listening to a local band.

 

kagoshima japan KAGOSHIMA FURUSATO YATAIMURA food street

kagoshima japan KAGOSHIMA FURUSATO YATAIMURA food street japan kagoshima stud

 

Shabu Shabu is a hot pot dish where you dip thin slices of pork (Kagoshima’s speciality)  in a broth to cook it! It’s the best!

shabu shabu japan kagoshima food

 

YAKUSHIMA

We took the ferry to Yakushima in the morning. It takes 3 hours to get there by speedboat. If you’re lucky, you will see some flying fish!

The weather in Yakushima is unpredictable. When we arrived it was pouring and we got really worried for our hike trough the forest the next day, but luckily it cleared up (sort of). The island is tiny and we could not find any big convenience stores close to our guesthouse, but luckily there were some awesome restaurants with amazing fish dishes and the local speciality: Flying fish! Raw or fried… it’s really good!

 

In our guesthouse we could order a bento for the day of the hike. It was delivered at 5 AM, for those who left really early. Most people rent cars because it is the easiest way to travel around the island and there are only very few buses. But we took the bus anyway so we left at 8 AM with the first bus and got back at 4PM with the last bus.

We are not experienced hikers but we were able to do A LOT of walking in 6 hours (we really took our time and took tons of pictures) and didn’t get lost once. Just follow the pink ribbon. We took the red, the yellow and the green trail on this map.

 

yakushima japan trail map

 

I had a minor shoe incident and lost my soles after 30 minutes but was still able to get to Taikoiwa rock, where we were supposed to have a great view… except we didn’t because we were in a cloud.

The forest is majestic. The trees are huge and I felt like a wood fairy jumping from stone to stone to cross a river. The higher we climbed the more misty the woods got. The atmosphere was really magical!

Here’s some green overload.

 

yakushima forest japan hike

yakushima forest japan hike yakushima forest japan hike

yakushima forest japan hike

yakushima forest japan hike yakushima forest japan hike

yakushima forest japan hike yakushima forest japan hike

 

Next we will visit Hiroshima and finally, TOKYO! See ya!

Part 1: Kyoto
Part 2: Kyoto (2) 
Part 3: Koyasan and Nara

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3 Weeks in Japan – Part 3: Koyasan & Nara

After some adventures we arrived at Koyasan, the sacred mountain. Koyasan is celebrating the 1200-year anniversary of its founding. Temples, monks and pilgrims everywhere! Also, it’s cold… so there were still Sakura!

Sakura Japan

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We had booked a night in a temple (Shukubo) which meant that we would eat a vegetarian meal made by monks at 6 PM and get up at 5.30 AM for the morning prayer. It was a great experience!

 

OKUNOIN’S GRAVEYARD

One of the most visited places in Koyasan is the graveyard. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place with giant trees and old, mossy stones.

There are hundreds of Jizo statues scattered all over the graveyard, often covered in moss and plants. People like to put clothes on the statues to protect them from bad weather and keep them warm. It is believed that Jizo statues protect the souls of children that die before their parents. It is heartbreaking to see children’s clothing, bibs or toys put near the statues by grieving parents.

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NARA

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Nara was once Japan’s capital. You can find many temples there, as well as a giant Buddha statue made of bronze (inside Todai-Ji)… but the most awesome thing about this place are the deer! They roam the streets and the parcs and you can buy crackers to feed them. I don’t know who taught them to be so polite, but they bow in order to get more food. It’s adorable!

nara deer bow feed cute crackersThe one in the top right corner wants some too!

 

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nara japan parc flowers butterfly

nara japan parc

 

TODAI-JI

todai-ji japan nara deer

nara japan deer

nara japan temple

 

We walked past this small shrine decorated with pink hearts. You could pray for love and read your fortune on a paper you dipped in water. Looked fun!

nara japan temple heart

 

Previously on the blog…
Part 1: Kyoto
Part 2: Kyoto (2) 

Next up…
Part 4: Kagoshima and Yakushima

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3 Weeks in Japan – Part 2: Kyoto

Yes, we’re still in Kyoto. As I said it was my favourite destination and I took a TON of pictures.

After a long day outside Kyoto, visiting Arashiyama and its surroundings, we were late to visiting Fushimi Inari-taisha. The guides says that it takes 4 hours to visit this shrine, known for its long torii path up a mountain.

We arrived there for the golden hour and decided to push forward and see what it looks like in the dark. We went up quite far and admired an amazing view, but didn’t go to the top because it started to get late and we were hungry! So we went to look for some okonomiyaki… delicious!

 

Fushimi Inari-taisha japan night kyotoFushimi Inari-taisha japan night

Fushimi Inari-taisha lamps kyoto japanFushimi Inari-taisha view night kyoto

 

GOLDEN PAVILLON – KINKAKU-JI

Golden pavillon Kinkaku-ji kyoto japan

 

ENKO-JI TEMPLE

Enkō-ji Temple jizo statue kyoto

Enkō-ji Temple kyoto japan

Enkō-ji Temple gardens kyoto japan

 

PHILOSOPHER’S WALK

Philosopher's Walk kyoto Japan

 

The philosopher’s walk must be amazing during the sakura season! we were lucky enough to get there before it ended, but there were only a few flowers left.Philosopher's Walk kyoto Japan

Philosopher's walk kyoto japan sakura
Food of the day: delicious tonkatsu and green tea cream puffs!

 

TO-JI TEMPLE

To-ji temple kyoto japan

temple door

 

Behold! The heron vs. cat stand-off!


When you are entering a temple or a shrine you can wash your hand, sometimes face, sometimes you can even drink the water. Just purify yourself, fool!

 

For our last night, we went to see a « traditional arts » performance. We saw a tea ceremony, flower arrangements, a maiko dance and a puppet performance. It’s really touristy but I loved it!

gion kyoto japan

That’s it time to say goodbye to Kyoto…

temple mont kyoto japan

 

… See you soon for the next destination: Koyasan and Nara!

 

Previously on the blog…

Part 1: Kyoto

Next…
Part 3: Koyasan and Nara

Part 4: Kagoshima and Yakushima

 

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3 Weeks in Japan – Part 1: Kyoto

It was my life goal to visit Japan and I finally did it! I wanted to visit this country so bad but had quite a hard time deciding which places to see besides the obvious destinations like Kyoto and Tokyo.

I am an organisation freak when it comes to travel. I need to know that I am not missing something important: an awesome view, an amazing restaurant… I want to see and taste it all! Since I spent so much time and found so much interesting information on blogs and websites (I love to see bloggers post their travel photos), I thought that I could share my experience with the world and maybe help someone to plan his trip.

The fact that I wanted to see Yakushima (inspiration for princess Mononoke’s forest) made the route planning more complicated since it’s so far south. Here’s our travel itinerary:

 

japan map 3 weeks route itinerary tokyo osaka kyoto hiroshima yakushima kagoshima nara koyasan

 

Thank Glob for the Japan Rail Pass! Without it this vacation would have been very pricey.

 

We arrived in Tokyo and took the train to Kyoto right away. Kyoto was by far my favourite place in Japan! You can find very traditional neighbourhoods with temples and beautiful gardens, but you can also find « little Tokyo-style » areas. The best of both worlds. It’s the only place where we found tea houses everywhere. You could stop wherever you wanted to take a cup of matcha with some sweets or MOCHI ().

The first day was quite rainy, but that didn’t stop us.

Ryozen Kannon japan sakura cherry blossoms japan rain Japan-016

 

IT’S TEA TIME!

 

WE SPENT THE NIGHT IN AN AMAZING RYOKAN IN GION DISTRICT, EATING KAISEKI

 

You can find Jizo statues hidden in gardens or next to the road. They are Japanese divinities that are supposed to protect children (there is more to them, but I’ll talk about that later). I was obsessed with finding those little guys, they are so sweet and delicate.

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moss garden japan

tanuki japan moss fro

 

Next up…
Part 2: Kyoto (2)
Part 3: Koyasan and Nara
Part 4: Kagoshima and Yakushima

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Furiosa

I’m back from Japan and still working on the millions of photos I took there.

In the meantime I went to watch Mad Max: Fury Road and it blew my face off! What an amazing movie! I couldn’t resist drawing Furiosa. So here it goes.

 

furiosa mad max fanart illustration

 

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