Just recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about my dream holiday to Japan, I know it’s a way off but I can’t stop planning every detail, so when the time comes I’ve got it all in hand. As you’ll know if you have been following me on snapchat or Instagram, we have been hosting foreign students in our home over the summer and I was excited to find out two of them were Japanese! So, naturally I couldn’t wait to ask them all about their homeland and the best things to see and do. Speaking to a local is the best way to do this, you can only get so much from the guide books! I’ve already worked out where all the main tourist sights are, so I wanted some advice about going off the beaten track – so I asked our students for a few unique suggestions of things I might like to do alongside all the ‘main bits’. Here are the top five suggestions:
Boat Ride during Sakura Season
I’ve seen hundreds of pictures of the cherry blossoms on Pinterest, so this has firmly been on my list for a long time. However, I didn’t actually realise you can hire out your own rowing boat and explore the cherry blossom by water. That just takes viewing the famous cherry blossom to a new level, how romantic would that be? I just love how the blossom has coloured the water pink too and as you glide along the water, the petals all part, leaving a trail behind you. There is also the option of stopping along the riverbank for a picnic along the way, sounds just beautiful!
Studio Ghibli Museum
Of course, for any Studio Ghibli fan, this is a MUST! I couldn’t believe it when our student, Aoi said she lives right by the museum, that is just so cool and I know where I’ll be staying when I go! 😉 I’ve seen every movie in the collection (numerous times!) and would love to get lost in a world of cute characters and stories. They describe the museum as a ‘portal to storyworld’ and due to their strict no-photo rules I can only guess what the inside must be like. In my opinion, Studio Ghibli have created some of the best movies ever made (forget Disney!) and it will be just magical. Don’t even get me started on visiting the gift shop…. obviously, I’ll want EVERYTHING!
Explore the Geisha District of Kytoto
One of my must-do’s is to take a stroll around Gion, the only remaining geisha district left in Japan. A collection of streets defined by old wooden buildings, teahouses and Japanese restaurants, this is the best place to catch a glimpse a geisha or two shuffling between teahouses in their cumbersome sandals and elaborate kimonos. Ever since I read the book Memoirs of a Geisha I’ve dreamed about visiting one day and learning more about geisha life.
The colours, the kawaii cuteness, the crazy fashion and most importantly, all of the cute FOOD! Harajuku has got to be on my list of places to visit, and my first stop will be at the famous Santa Monica Crepes, for one of the prettiest crepes I’ve ever seen!
Try out Japan’s themed cafes
I have a thing for themed cafes, I wish we had more in the UK. As soon as the Doggy Cafe opened in Brighton I took Robbie as I just love the concept, although I think Robbie found it a bit bizarre. However, Japan just blows us out the water when it comes to themed cafes! Did you know there is a cat cafe, and owl cafe, a vampire cafe, a moomin cafe, a rabbit cafe and a My Little Pony Pancake Cafe, just to name a few! There are LOADS more, if I went to Japan, I’d make it my mission to visit them ALL!
So, those are my top 5 unique things to do in Japan and with this, I feel I’m only scratching the surface with this wonderful country. Now I just need to start saving! This might be a while now little one is on the way, but I can still dream and I know I will go, one day.
Now, before I wrap this post up, I wanted to make mention of ANA airways as an option for travelling to Japan. Not only did they send me a lovely parcel of Japanese products to get me in the mood for wanderlusting over my dream trip to Japan, but when I mentioned ANA to my students they also personally recommended them as one of the very best you can travel with, which really speaks volumes. ANA focus on Japanese hospitality, so everything is thought of from the moment you board the plane, the food, the experience – they even stock Neal’s Yard products! I’m sold! So look them up if you are lucky enough to be booking a trip any time soon.
Have you been to Japan? I’d love to hear about your experiences!
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Post written in collaboration with ANA