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Takamatsu; “Why Are You Going There?”

Whenever people asked us in the first few weeks of the trip where we were going to next, we mentioned the route through Japan and said the we would be going to Takamatsu, almost every time the response was something along the lines of “Why are you going to Takamatsu”

In truth, the only reason was because we got a cheap flight out from there to Shanghai with Spring Airlines. But I think you can find something you love about a place anywhere, even if you don’t love the place (I.e – Shanghai, but I’ll come to that soon)

Takamatsu didn’t start brilliantly, the hostel was a bit rubbish, and expensive, £47 per night for bunk beds is a little steep for anybody. Then the first meal we had was a bit of a rip off as well. We had a beer, relaxed, went to bed ready to find the hidden beauty of Takamatsu the next day.

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Hiroshima, The Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima Island

Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima is a place known worldwide for the wrong reasons, the utter devastation caused by the Atomic Bomb being dropped there on August 6th 1945. We have been interested in going to visit the memorial park and learn about what happened since first thinking about going to Japan.

We got the two-hour train from Kyoto, straight to Hiroshima, dropped our bags at the Hostel then headed straight out to the city. The first thing that strikes you is that it’s a very modern and rich city, most likely because there is not really a single building there older than 70 years old, because the bomb wiped out the entire city.

The peace park and museum is being used to remember the victims and showcase the devastation caused by war, rather than discuss the topic of that particular war, it is very interesting to see and also saddening to learn in-depth what it did to the people of Hiroshima.

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Kyoto, Nara and Uji

Kyoto

Kyoto is the former capital of Japan, a city with over 1,600 temples apparently, so it obviously attracts a lot of tourism. We got the train from Fuji in two and a half hours, then walked a mile to where we were staying, and with heavy backpacks on, and in the cold, that wasn’t easy, but it seems to get easier the more we do it.

We checked in to the room and went for a walk around the back streets to explore the city; in places it is empty, in other places busier than Tokyo, everything is still very Japanese, but with a little more western influence than Tokyo. There are quite a few European Restaurants around, and perhaps more English spoken in the city centre.

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Fuji For A Day

The one-hour journey to Fuji began with Stac not actually being able to contain her excitement at getting a hot coffee from a vending machine within one second of pressing the button, she thinks it must be magic. The train ride flew by with various glimpses of the famous mountain along the way, we arrive around 9.30, and Kazu, the owner of the house we’re staying at for the night, picks us up from the train station for the 2 minute drive back to his place.

Staci unbelievably excited to get a hot coffee from a vending machine

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Going Further Into Tokyo

Tokyo just keeps getting better and better, the food, the people we meet and the sights. How clean and efficient this place is will shock people even from western countries I believe, the streets are spotless, the metro and trains work seamlessly and everything is so easy to do, it feels ‘nice’. It feels comfortable. It feels like a holiday 🙂

It’s 6am, we’re feeling groggy, tired, and want to go back to sleep, but we can’t let ourselves, because today is the day we want to go the fish market. Ever since hearing a particular person’s account of the “greatest breakfast in the world” I’ve wanted to visit Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market and have Sushi at an ungodly hour in the morning.

7am Sushi Breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market

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Beginning the Japan Journey in Tokyo

We flew from Hong Kong to Tokyo Narita Airport on the 3rd January, landed around 3.30pm, collected our rail passes and headed to the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo where we are staying, needless to say, everything worked efficiently and well and we arrived and checked in to the room about 6pm with our bellies already craving something distinctly Japanese.

The food in Hong Kong was good, but it wasn’t great, and I just had a feeling that things were only going to get better. And it did.

We immediately set off to the Asakusa district, home of the famous Sensō-ji Temple, had a walk around the beautiful old town back streets and started looking for some food.

Sensō-ji Temple by night

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The Journey Begins: En Route To Hong Kong

We’re on our way. After two years of planning, two years of saving and many months of getting rid of almost everything we own, we’re now sat on a one-way flight to Hong Kong. With 7kg of baggage each (yes, SEVEN, even Staci has only seven kilos of luggage) packed neatly in the backpacks, two passports and (too) many pants, the time has come to start the journey, although Staci now says she wished she had packed a few more pants.

We got on the flight, sat and chatted, and tried to reflect on the emotions that we were feeling. You would think this would be something quite deep and meaningful, i mean, we’ve had plenty of time to think about it. Was it excitement, for the journey ahead? Was it nerves, for the unkown to come? Was it even sadness, to leave so much family and friends behind? No, it was “weird”! And that isn’t even an emotion!

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