What would you do if you could take the trip of a lifetime? With the money to pay for it included!
What would you do if you could take the trip of a lifetime?
What kind of trip would it be? Would it be? A beach trip – laying a top of a sun lounger somewhere, getting your tan on as the waiter brings you that second margarita of the day on a white sandy beach in Jamaica?
Or would it be trekking through the humid rainforest in Brazil? Living off the land and being one with nature?
What would your trip of a lifetime be? What would my trip of a lifetime be? That’s the question I was asked. When I was shortlisted for the Post Office Travel blogger of the year awards, where the winner gets £5k to spend on a trip of a lifetime.
And honestly, I couldn’t really answer it, because there are so many trips, place and countries I want to visit and learn about. To me, they’re all once in a lifetime experiences. So, it was hard to narrow it down to just one.
But if I had to, it would be to visit Japan (again), but this time to see the country a washed with bold shades of orange, red and golden hues of yellow (known as koyo or momijigari) in autumn.
I’ve been to Japan before to see the famous cherry blossoms. But on my visit the weather was too cold, so the flowers didn’t open while I was here and I never got to see the cherry blossoms in all their glory.
But after my first visit to Japan. I was hooked, by its neon lights, countless shrines, fantastic food, friendly locals, alleyways and mysterious Geishas. Japan left its fingerprints on my heart, and I vowed I would return to see the autumn colours. And unlike the cherry blossoms that only lasts a few days a year, the fall foliage lasts up to two months.
I’ve seen photos of the autumn foliage in Japan, and it’s the most breath-taking and peaceful sight you can imagine and to top it off I would see all of this by taking the Shinkansen train (bullet train) through of Japan.
My journey would start in Tokyo, and include day trips to Hakone and Nara and end in Kyoto.
I would start my journey in Japan, where everyone should start their visit to Japan. At the world’s busiest intersection ‘Shibuya crossing’ Tokyo. Where the bodies of human’s march across the street from all five directions, like ants moving at military precision, but never bumping into each other. I would cross the road at least five times just for the fun of it.
I would visit the unusual and very fascinating Robot café and watch the laser show and wander the many alleyways of Tokyo trying to find a cheap Michelin star restaurant (as of 2017, the city has a total of 314 Michelin stars, shared by 234 restaurants), like Nakajima to have lunch.
I would spend at least one night in a pod hotel to experience how it would feel sleeping on a spaceship. I’d explore the streets around central Tokyo taking night time photos and then chase golden hour a top of the Tokyo Tower.
But before I leave Tokyo, I’d visit Rikugien one of Tokyo’s best Japanese landscape gardens where viewing of the autumn leaves is one of the best in the city.
I would roam along Icho Namiki (Ginkgo Avenue), which is lined with the ginkgo (icho) the official tree of Tokyo and see Meiji-jingu Gaien Park. Where the leaves of the trees fall on the pathways in the park, covering them in yellow and red foliage.
From Tokyo, I would take a day trip to the Hakone area in the Kanagawa prefecture. The best way to travel to Hakone and seeing the autumn colours would be by taking the Hakone Tozan Railway which is the oldest mountain railway in Japan.
I’d visit Lake Ashi, which was formed through volcano eruption over 3000 years ago and hop on the Hakone Sightseeing Boat. I’d let lost in the forest and walk until I find the Hakone Shrine. That’s famous for its solitude looking red torii gates standing in Lake Ashi.
I would end my day trip to Hakone at a traditional Onsen. Hakone is famous for Onsen.
After my day trip to Hakone, I would travel by the bullet train to Kyoto. The former capital and culture centre of Japan. Kyoto and neighbouring Nara is where you’ll find the best fall colours in Japan.
Kyoto is a historical city and gives you a glimpse into old Japan and is known for its slower pace of life compared to Tokyo. The city is surrounded by mountains on three sides, has countless temples and shrines, famed for Gion and its Geishas.
My travel to Kyoto would not be complete without visiting the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, Gion and Arashiyama, to name a few.
I would rise early to visit the rural and peaceful Arashiyama and Sagano area, a former vacation spot for Emperors. The district lays on the outskirts of Kyoto. To see the Bamboo Grove at sunrise. I’d walk through the grove, watching as bamboos sway gently in the wind.
I would stroll along the Togetsukyo bridge, which is nearby the bamboo grove, taking in the fall colours and bask in nature.
To see Arashiyama in a unique way, I would ride the Sagano scenic railway, which takes you through the mountains and runs along the beautiful Hozugawa river. I’d combine the Sagano scenic ride with the Hozugawa river cruise to get the full effect of the beautiful area dressed in its fall colours.
The Fushimi Inari Shrine would be next on my list after visiting Arashiyama and Sagano.
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is an awe-inspiring place, with its dazzlingly orange coloured shrines of varying sizes that snake their way 4.5km up a hill. The Fushimi Inari Shrine is the head shrine dedicated to the rice god. The shrine is known for its many torii gates, and each gate donated as an offering by an individual or business. It said the larger the gate, the larger the donation. I’d hike to the very top of the shrine so that I could see Kyoto from above.
I would also visit the famed Kinkakuji, (Kinkakuji -golden pallvion). I’ve photos of this beautiful building with the calm lake around it. The water acting as a great mirror, reflecting the buildings spectacular gold structure. Kinkakuji was initially built as a retirement villa by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and is now a Zen Temple and a UNESCO world heritage site. The gold pallvion is said to be a prime spot in fall, with gold maple leaves covering the grounds.
Another fall foliage spot in Kyoto, I would visit is the Tofuku-ji Temple. One of the most notorious places for viewing the fall leaves. The compound has three different bridges, connected to it and at the peak of fall is carpeted with maples that turn bright crimson.
There is also wonderful day trips to Nara and Osaka from Kyoto by train.
I would take a day trip to Nara and witness how Nara looks under the vivid colours of fall. One of the best places to see fall in Nara is in Nara Park. Nara park is a place to be dazzled, with its beautiful surroundings and historic structures. It contains four of the eight UNESCO sites in Nara – odaiji Temple, Kasugataisha Shrine, Kasugayama Primeval Forest, and Kohfukuji Temple.
Along with the fantastic fall foliage and historic structures, you also get to meet the many deer’s that roam the park freely.
After visiting and playing with the deer. I’d walk the vast park to see the autumn colours in all its splendour. Returning to Kyoto, I’d end my Japan trip in the alleyways of Gion looking for those mysterious and elusive Geishas.
How you can help me win!
To be in with a chance of winning the Post Office Travel Blogger Awards 2018, I need your help! You can vote for me at the Post Office Travel Blogger Awards 2018 until 17th 2018. If I win, I will take you guys with me on every step of my once in a lifetime trip to Japan.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my city break guides of Europe, food tours and day trips, along with tips on incorporating more intentional travel into your life while still working a full-time job.
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