Can you guess what this is? The second picture tells the tail – it’s hardboiled egg shaped seats near Owakudani. The hot springs are used to hardboil the eggs and turns them black in the process.
This picture shows some of the most popular and classic Japanese souvenirs, all items made from washi paper.
While it’s now a worldwide phenomena, having a night out with friends to sing popular songs got it’s start on the streets of Tokyo. You can find Karaoke places with private rooms and English songs in Shinjuku.
The flagship store of department store chain, Mitsukoshi, is a landmark in the Nihonbashi area of Tokyo. Did you know they started out as a kimono fabric vendor in 1673?
The ropeway takes you from the top of Hakone’s cable car (from Gora) over the Owakudani sulfurous steam vents and down the other side of the hill to Lake Ashi.
There are so many specialty stores in Japan. Little shops are in all areas of Tokyo that specialize in just one type of product. Here is a photo of a brush shop near Asakusa.
Niki de Saint Phalle’s colorful piece stands out against the vibrant green hills of Hakone. See this, and more, at the Hakone Open Air Museum.
You can take a public or private cruise on the Sumida river. This unusual view of Tokyo was taken while heading toward Asakusa on a private cruise.
This unusual display of Japanese textiles can be found in the Arashiyama station in western Kyoto. Originally a temporary display, it is now permanent and includes hundreds of different patterns displayed in clear, plexiglass housing. Designed to reflect the nearby bamboo forest, these fabrics are lit from within in the evening to create a beautiful path of color.
When in doubt about where to eat; head to the nearest department store. They all have multiple restaurants, usually located on one or two floors at the top of the store. This guide to the dining options at the Takashimaya in Kyoto also lets you know which ones have an English menu. You’ll often find restaurant guides like this in popular places (stores,stations).
OK, not your typical Japanese shrine, but for the avid shopper, one of your first and last stops on a trip to Japan. Eight floors of magnificent goods, delicious food, quirky designs and elegant traditional products – what more could a shopper need.
The large Dai symbol on the eastern hills of Kyoto, is lit on fire every summer during the Daimonji (Gozan no Okuribi), and can be seen from part of the Philosophers Path (near Ginkaku-ji).
This map points to Kyoto as the center of the universe, and when we’re there, we feel like it is too! Of course, since it’s on the Takashimaya department store, it’s even more apropos.
This is the spectacular view of the Gora area from the rope way.
Take a boat ride under Miyajima’s famous torii gate. You won’t understand a single word the Japanese boatman is saying as you pass under the famous gate, but it’s a fun, tourist thing to do. Be sure to clap when told to!
The Japanese are obsessive about food quality and one of the joys of travel in Japan is the amazingly fresh ingredients and the overall quality of the food at every level. We love chocolate so we’re always on the lookout for a great chocolate desert or special item. Now leading our list for best hot chocolate in the world is the SUPERB cup of hot cocoa prepared by the Four Seasons Marunouchi in Tokyo. Made with Valrhona chocolate, it comes perfectly prepared with a selection of enhancements neatly arrayed on a tray – white chocolate curls, whipped cream and the tiniest little marshmallows ever. For a special treat – we always make it a point to stop into their quiet, 7th floor lounge (right next to Tokyo station) to warm up and relax whenever I’m passing through Tokyo.
When you visit the famous floating torii gate on Miyajima Island, if the tide is high, you can take a boat ride out to the gate and actually go under it as the Japanese would have when approaching Itsukushima Shrine, which it faces.
Conveyor Belt (Kaiten) sushi is a form of fast food in Japan. This location, at Kyoto Station shows the different types of sushi on the multi-colored plates used to keep track of how much you ate so your bill can be calculated.
Taking the Gondola ride to Owakudani Hot Springs in Hakone is one of the many family fun activities in this tourist destination. This video shows one of the cars coming up to the boarding area.
Most of us only ever see wasabi as a green paste served along with our sushi. Did you know that it is only grown in a few places in Japan, using fresh mountain water to wash over the young plants. For pictures of the final radish-like product, see our blog post here.