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Three weeks felt both long (feeling so happily far away from our former desk jobs), and far too short at the same time. Here are our highlights from the 6 cities we visited:
Tokyo: Senso-ji Temple and Shinjuku
After 5 days we were quite taken with so many aspects of Tokyo. We had 7 days in total, and on our visit to Asakusa, the Senso-ji Temple was by far the highlight, surrounded by shrines and gardens that made for a lovely afternoon of wandering.Note for other rookies like us: Go to the places that look busy in Asakusa for a traditional, tasty Japanese lunch… there’s a reason the quiet places are quiet :|Shinjuku was the quintessential modern Tokyo. Busy streets lit up with a myriad of advertising billboards, amazing food (we enjoyed the best sushi we’d ever eaten), and an incredible thriving and non-stop vibe.Special mention:
Cuddling with rabbits for an hour at the Bunny Café. For ¥1250 each ($15 AUD), 6 rabbits were rotated between us. Mostly they’re just interested in the snacks you can give them and are quite friendly… but we did get a rather boisterous little fellow who repeatedly bit Adam for his 20 minutes of play time.

After our week in Tokyo – the excitingly frenetic, uniquely beautiful mega city that it is – we were ready to move on and explore other parts of Japan.

Nagoya: Miso-katsu and accidentally stumbling on a beer festival
2 hours south of Tokyo by Shinkansen, is known for its miso-katsu, so we sought out the best in town and found Misokatsu Yabaton. We weren’t disappointed, and would line up for an hour again for a second go.

As if drawn by fate, it turned out to be the Belgian Beer Weekend of 2016. Clearly not one to let weekdays get in the way of a good beer celebration, the ‘weekend’ started on Wednesday, so we were lucky enough to try a few Belgian-style craft beers on the first day of the festival.

Special mention: 
Just outside of Nagoya, about ½ an hour by bus is Nabana no Sato on Nagashima island – a botanical garden renowned for its beautiful flowers – where we were treated to the last days of the Winter Illumination light display.

KyotoArashiyama (including Sagano Bamboo Forest, Tenryu-ji Temple) & the Suntory Distillery.
Despite being greeted with wet weather when we arrived in Kyoto (not so great rolling your bags obnoxiously through a new city to a hotel, only to find you’ve arrived at the wrong one), we fell quickly under its spell.

Arashiyama, just 20 minutes by train from Kyoto station was by far the highlight. The bamboo forest was peaceful and serene even with the 100’s of people we shared it with. We topped off the afternoon with a visit to the Monkey Park to get up close and personal with the Japanese macaque monkeys. While 3 days was definitely not enough to really get to know Kyoto, it was enough to get a feel for why we should come back one day.

Special mention: 
Bungalow – a great little craft beer bar with kegs for tables, on the side of a busy road with an excellent range of local brews and some very tasty food.

In Part 2 we conclude the wrap up covering Osaka, Miyajima and Hiroshima highlights.

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