My boyfriend and I recently had an amazing trip to Japan (18th April to 5th May). After an exhausting flight and a bewildering 24 hours jet lagged in Tokyo we got the train to Takayama (north – west of Japan) for days 2 – 6.
Due to it being cooler up north we were extremely fortunate in that we managed to witness the famous cherry blossom. As the trees only bloom for 2 weeks before dropping their flowers, it can be easily missed.
Takayama was much more traditional (I would even describe it as quite ‘quaint’) than Tokyo and its peacefulness was really what we needed to get over the 24 hour journey from Wakefield to Japan.
Unfortunately due to the rain (and later snow) it became quickly clear that I had not brought the right footwear for this part (sandals and flip flops only) so wellies were quickly sourced and purchased. I definitely didn’t expect my first purchase in Japan to be wellies but half the things that happened on the trip were pretty unexpected, as it turned out.
We checked into our Ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn), Takayama Kanko, that was situated at the top of the town and had a lovely view of Takayama and the blossom.
The hotel concierge was the politest man I had ever met in my life. In his broken English he guided us around every single area of the Ryokan before taking us to our room where he insisted on making us green tea. Unfortunately I think I offended him by immediately making the school girl error of walking into our room with my shoes on, exclaiming with delight at how lovely it was. First lesson quickly learnt – ALWAYS take your shoes off in Japan, even in many restaurants.
Day 3 we decided to take a trip to Shirakowa Go as we had recently spotted it on the Lonely Planet guide to places to go in 2014. We took a local bus up there (about £40 each return – 45min each way) and it was free entry to the main area. We walked around dodging the tourists before stumbling across a more private part. We paid about £3 each to go into the ‘museum area’ and found ourselves in beautiful scenery, completely on our own. This instantly changed both our perceptions on the place and if you ever visit – head to the part where you have to pay – it’s so worth it.
That evening we had booked a private onsen (you’re allowed 45 minutes inclusive of your room booking) and it was amazing. Japan is built on volcanic rock so it is home to many hot springs. It was a perfect way to relax as we were still struggling to get over our jet lag.