Tulips on Enoshima Island

Blooming great tulips in Enoshima

The sight of 20,000 tulips in perfect bloom is extraordinary at any time but in the middle of winter, on top of Enoshima Island, and after having been dusted with flakes of snow several times that morning it was quite unexpected. Enoshima Island is on…

Bonbai in Nagahama

Bonbai blooms again in Nagahama

If you love bonsai (the Japanese art of miniature trees) or ume (the beautiful flowering plum trees) then Nagahama bonbai is for you! Held in an historic villa in the friendly town of Nagahama this quick detour on our way to Hikone turned out to be an absolute highlight of the trip.

Benten-Kutsu cave at Hasedera

This small shrine within Hasedera temple is an example of the blending and co-existence of Buddhism and Shinto in Japan.  I’m really interested in Japanese and Buddhist history so I was excited to find this spot at our first stop in Kamakura. We visited on…

Heian Shrine

A visit to Heian Shrine in Kyoto

Kyoto is one of my favorite cities to wander and get lost in, it’s flat, relatively compact and packed full of interesting things to see.  Heian Shrine is located centrally and easy to incorporate into either a walking tour or access via the public transport…

Yasaka Shrine

How to visit a Shinto Shrine in Japan

Visiting a Shinto shrine is tightly woven into the daily life, culture and history of Japan.  As a tourist you will probably want to visit at least one during your stay.  I had a list of shrines and shrine festivals I wanted to see but…

A day trip to Enryakuji, Mt Hiei

Enryakuji – A Day Trip from Kyoto

Enryakuji is an easy day trip from Kyoto, just half an hour on the train and you can be breathing the mountain air with stunning views out over Lake Biwa. This peaceful collection of historic temples on Mt Hiei is the perfect spot for a bit of light hiking, a living history lesson and a whole lot of serenity.

Sakura blossom at Ryoanji temple

Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) in Japan

In late March and early April the Cherry Blossom trees bloom across most of Japan.  This is called Sakura and it’s a magical time to visit.  Not only are cherry blossoms beautiful but they’re a symbol of new beginnings, of impermanence, the coming of spring…

The great Buddha of Kamakura

The Great Buddha of Kotoku-in Temple

The Great Buddha in Kamakura is one of the largest Buddha statues in Japan. It’s just one of several great attractions that make this coastal city, just an hour from Tokyo, the perfect day trip.

Japanese snow monkeys in Nagano

Snow Monkeys daytrip from Tokyo

Seeing the Japanese snow monkeys in Nagano is a fabulous experience, especially if you can time your visit for a snowy winters day when you will see their natural area at its best. It’s reasonably easy to do this as an independent day trip from…


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is a ‘must see’ destination on a trip to Kamakura.  The site is historically and architecturally impressive in addition to its cultural value.   The Shrine was founded in 1180 for Yoritomo Minamoto, the first Shogun of the Kamakura period immediately after…


Kanazawa Day Trip from Kyoto

When we travel to Japan we  base out of 2-3 cities to minimize time changing accommodation and take day trips using the amazing rail system to maximize what we get to see.  Trains between cities as opposed to commuter trains are so comfortable it is…