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Blossoming Japan

12 September 2023

We travelled to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima a few years ago on a family holiday and can highly recommend you visit Japan when the opportunity allows.  The people are friendly, the cities clean, the local food delicious and the heritage and culture fascinating.

The fun part of travelling is experiencing the uniqueness that each destination has to offer.  Japan certainly has its share of these:  The city streets are very clean because there are fines for littering or smoking outside of designated areas.  You will see locals gathering in fenced off areas or in dedicated glass smoking boxes.  There are vending machines everywhere stocked with a variety of interesting drinks (including beer), food and often toys.  Then of course, there is the toilet experience… all Japanese toilets are elaborately fitted with a control panel that operates the bidet, seat warming and deodorisation.  There are even sound effects to drown out any toilet noises.  

Here are a few tips from our travels to this interesting country:

Japan Rail Pass

Travelling around the country is easy by rail.  Purchase a Japan Rail Pass before you depart New Zealand that allows you to economically travel on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) and regional JR rail.  Seat reservations can be easily made as you travel (we recommend at least a day ahead).  Be aware that not all rail lines accept this pass.  We provide a full information pack at time of booking.


It’s worth learning a few Japanese words and download a translator APP.  The friendly Japanese are very patient and polite when you attempt to communicate with them and English is spoken by locals at all tourist spots and rail stations.  Restaurants offer pictured menus or an English translated version.


We stayed here mainly as a base to travel around by train.  Visit Osaka Castle and enjoy the great selection of authentic Japanese restaurants.  Universal Studios is also here and worth a visit if you enjoy theme parks.  This is a very popular tourist attraction, so invest in the Express pass ticket to speed you up past the queuing crowds. 


We recommend you stay a couple of nights in Kyoto.  It is very tourist centric but enjoy the traditional buildings, beautiful temples and numerous women dressed in Kimonos.


Visit the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Peace Memorial, and the very moving and confronting Museum to understand more about this important period of history.  Easily done as a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto.  The train from Osaka to Hiroshima took an hour and half via Shinkansen.


Highlights included visiting Meiji Shrine, Imperial Palace Gardens, Happ En Garden, dinner with a Sumo Wrestling display and dress-up Karaoke!  Here you will also find Tokyo Disneyland that is having its 35th anniversary this year and very popular with the locals so again lots of crowds.

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