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.
Takamatsu’s Jewel didn’t take much finding in all honesty, it’s the top ‘attraction’ to do there. I put attraction in inverted commas because you would think a tourist attraction would attract travellers from far and wide, well not in Takamatsu, in the two days we were there, we didn’t see a single westerner, but everybody was really friendly to us, if a little bemused by why we were there 🙂
Ritsurin Garden is Takamatsu’s amazing Japanese gardens, it is kept meticulously clean, beautiful to walk around, we spent around 3 hours wandering over the small bridges and footpaths, past ponds, waterfalls and garden areas. It is truly stunning and deserves more recognition. But the pictures will show you that…
In the three hours we were there, it went from glorious sunshine, to a snow blizzard, to sunny again. A fitting summary of the true beauty of Japan.
To finish off our last day in Japan, and remember what an amazing country and journey it has been, we went and found a bar to get ourselves a glass of wine. We got chatting to the barman in broken english and google translate, and he recommended a traditional Japanese izakaya close by for some good seafood.
We realised it wouldn’t be cheap, but we hadn’t done the famous izakaya style of bar properly yet, almost like a private dining experience the place is so small, so we decided to go there and try to find the most amazing food yet, we certainly achieved it.
We went in and were greeted kindly by the Chef, but it soon became obvious that her and the single waiting staff spoke absolutely no English, and there was no menu, pictures, or even english writing or numbers around. So after a little bit of internet translating and miming (really, how do you mime fish?) one of the locals who spoke a little english came over to help. A long discussion ensued about every type of amazing sounding fish dish going between us, the chef and the friendly local.
He picked for us, told the chef and we waited in excitement for what would come. By the end we had got through Fish Sashimi, Tempura Eel, Red Snapper Head, Potato Cakes, Japanese Beans, Tempura Shrimp (that were about 2 foot long if you listen to Stac) and plenty of wine and sake. We were the happiest two people on the planet right then I think.
Then the next day it was on to the China journey… First stop; Shanghai!