The Vacationist

Doctor by profession. Traveller by heart.
  • Day4

    Yamanouichi

    January 26, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 0 °C

    From Nagano, took a train to Yudanaka. And in Yudanaka, took a taxi to Yamanouichi.

    What’s all the hype about? The Jigokudani snow monkeys of course. These primates are endemic to Japan. You won’t find them anywhere else in the world. I’m sure you have seen pictures of monkeys relaxing in hot springs. This is where you will find them. Of course, you have to earn it. So you have to hike up a 1.6km trail to where these creatures live. Be careful as this snow covered trail is slippery. I fell countless times. With its snow covered branches and powdered floor, this trail is perfect for taking photographs.

    By the time I got back down the trail it was getting dark and I was getting hungry. Soba noodles were for dinner. Soba is buckwheat, and buckwheat is what the Nagano prefecture is known for. With its cold temperatures, rice doesn’t grow very well here, so locals turn to this as their staple food. This soupy sensation was exactly what I needed to end my frozen, fun-filled adventure.
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  • Day4

    Nagano

    January 26, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ -2 °C

    Took the shinkansen from Tokyo and headed to Nagano. Dumped out luggage in a coin locker in the station and went sightseeing for a bit.

    Walked around and ended up at Zenko-ji temple. This town basically grew around this temple, so it is a prominent landmark.

    Temples are okay, but what you should be looking for here is oyaki. Oyaki is a vegetable or red bean stuffed dumpling which “skin” is made from fermented buckwheat. It is a Nagano speciality. I went to this traditional oyaki shop, where they cook the oyaki above the fire-pit right in front of you. These tasty treats make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside especially in the cold winter months.Read more

  • Day3

    Asakusa

    January 25, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 6 °C

    The Sensoji temple, or its more famous, Kaminarimon Gate (the one with the giant red lantern), is infested with tourists. Well known not only for its cultural history, but also its array of souvenir stalls. A fun fact: This is Buddhist temple is Tokyo's oldest temple. Its freaking ancient. Don't worry, I'm not going to make this a history lesson.Read more

  • Day3

    Odaiba

    January 25, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 6 °C

    The man made island of Odaiba is where you come to do shopping. I just came here to see the giant robot. I suppose this life size Gundam statue is the guardian of the shopping malls here.

  • Day3

    Shinjuku

    January 25, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 2 °C

    Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is where you go if you want to see what Tokyo looks like from 202 meters (45th floor) above ground. Best part about this observation deck is that it is FREE. And so, when something is free, everyone wants a part of it, which means you have to wait in line for a bit.

    Panoramic views of the city from up here are amazing. I even got to see Mt. Fuji in the distance.
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  • Day2

    Kawaguchiko

    January 24, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ -4 °C

    This is where Lake Kawaguchi lies. It is the most accessible of the Fuji Five Lakes. The reason I came here was to get to Kachi Kachi Ropeway. This ropeway ascends up Mount Tenjo to give you majestic views of, the one and only, Mt. Fuji. It’s observation deck is at about 1000 meters above sea level. I went on a clear day and this was my second trip to Japan, and so I FINALLY got to see this volcanic legend.

    On another note, I was freezing my butt off here. It hit about -4 degrees that evening.

    To get here, take the train (or the bus) from Tokyo to Kawaguchi station. And from there, just walk in the town for a bit til you find Kachi Kachi Ropeway. Its not difficult to find. Just ask anyone or follow the other tourists.
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  • Day2

    Tsukiji Market

    January 24, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    Giant tuna head! No, seriously. They put it out on display. I was just passing through and decided to stop by for some eel, or unagi as they say in Japanese. It is to die for!

    Tsukiji Market is a big fish market. Divided into the inner and the outer market. We tourists usually visit the outer market and buy dried squid or eat at the restaurants. However, the inner market is pretty interesting too as they auction off seafood in the wee hours of the morning. Of course, what are we going to do with a giant tuna head rotting in our hotel rooms right?Read more

  • Day1

    Gala Yuzawa

    January 23, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Your trip to Japan in winter is not complete if you don’t visit at least one ski resort. The Gala Yuzawa ski resort is the only ski resort in Japan which has its own bullet train station. Easy access. No hassle. Its direct from Tokyo. If you are not into skiing, why not try snowboarding? Either way, this resort offers beginner lessons if you know next to nothing regarding these two sports. Not into the above activities? That’s fine too. You can always go sledding or throw snowballs at random Japanese people (or not). The cafeteria here has the most amazing view (Picture 5). Enjoy the sight of frost tipped mountains while you sip on warm green tea.

    There are souvenir shops here. I recommend the Gala Yuzawa Chocolate Mochi (Picture 6). It melts in your mouth. My friends and I kept taking the free samples til the point the salesperson took them away.
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  • Day8

    Hakone

    October 24, 2014 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Renowned by its hot springs, Hakone is mountainous town that offers scenic views of Mt. Fuji, if you are lucky and there is no mist obstructing your vision that is. Sadly for me, I only had a day here and it wasn't a very clear one, so I didn't get to meet Fuji-san.

    I did however get to soak in an onsen. An outdoor onsen might I add. It was a chilly day and the warm water was so welcoming. When in Hakone, you have to experience onsen. Where else in the world are you ever going to soak yourself butt naked in a public bath with total strangers who totally don't acknowledge your presence. No awkward stares! Nothing! Its like you don't exist!

    What is an onsen you ask? It means hot spring in Japanese. However, this term is used for inns and bathing facilities built around natural hot springs.

    Take the Hakone ropeway and experience magnificient sights from up above. You can see Lake Ashinoko or Mt Fuji on a good day. My pictures don't do this place justice as they were taken in the evening after sunset. Nice autumn colours though.

    If you have the time, take a cruise in Lake Ashinoko. You can get some pretty good shots of Mt Fuji from here.

    I didn't get to experience Hakone properly on this trip. Maybe next time.
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  • Day7

    Nara

    October 23, 2014 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    If you need peace and quiet, come here. Feels like it cleanses your soul. I came here during autumn and let me tell you, its absolutely breathtaking. The different colours of the leaves and the serene waters of the lake with the 5 story pagoda in the distance. Simply magnificent!

    Nara is well known for its deers. You will find most of the in Nara Park, although at times you might find them wandering in town. In the park however, you can purchase deer crackers from vendors and feed the deer. These creatures are smart. They will ambush you the moment you walk to the vendor stall. "That one is getting food!", I'm sure that's what they're saying. Nothing to worry about though. They're just going to nudge you with their noses for abit.

    There is a legend here about deers being messengers of God which is why the town's folk are fine with deer trampling their lawns. Though I don't think they trample much as Japanese deers are as well mannered as their people.

    There are some temples here. A must see is Todaiji temple. It is one of Japan's most famous temples and a prominent landmark of Nara. Picture included below. You can also visit Kofukuji temple. It is right next to the 5 storey pagoda. Picture included below as well.

    Oh, and souvenir shopping here is relatively cheaper compared to the other places I've travelled in Japan. Go to Naramichi if you wish to get some keychains and fridge magnets.
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