Summarising – my favorite spots

Koyasan

 

Here is another where I managed to go every year (sometimes more), although it is a journey to reach the top of this Wakayama mountain, almost 3 hours away from Osaka

World Heritage site since 2004, Koyasan gathers for me nature, spirituality, meditation, quiet, food, experience and Japan traditions in one place. I love spending 2 days, 1 night there. Typically, I would take a train mid morning from Osaka to arrive at Koyasan round 15h00, check in at the shukubo, enjoy the onsen, relax in the tatami bedroom with a tea watching the nature around. dinner round 18h00, shakio teaching from 20h00 to 21h00 and a good night sleep in a futon

Dinner is monk food, I love it, it is tasty, but it is a lot in quantity, dont expect a light dinner on the base that it will be vegan! the breakfast is also very tasty and enormous.

I have learned shakio during my multiple stays and take back the pencils and papers back home to practice at least once a week, very good to empty your mind, release stress and improve your posture among other things.

the next day, wake up calls at 6am to go to the morning pray (make sure you are warmly covered), breakfast at 7.30, and spend the morning hiking and walking around the temples, I love making a stop and having a coffee at Eko In or at PowerstoneCafe before I head back to Tokyo which is a good 5 hours away

From Osaka,  you take a local train, change to a cable car, commute to a bus that drops you in front of the Shukubo

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Summarizing – my favorite spots

Nara

Yukari took me to Nara in 2002 so it really dates back and I had an instant love with the place. At the time, it is much less touristy, very local, less deers, you could walk in silence on a Saturday

Since I have been living in Japan, I organised to spend at least one day each year, on an early morning Sunday before buses and hords land to the souvenir shops.

This ancient capital of the empire is inspiring, monuments, temples, woods, monks, colors, difficult to describe but it makes me happy and peaceful.

From Osaka,  you have express trains in 45mn to Nara, it is a small town, you can walk to everywhere. Please go and enjoy!! dont spoil it

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Summarizing – my top spots

Had to be Wakkanai!!

Whenever I say I spent a long week end in Wakkanai, everyone stares at me and finds it a weird choice but this remains among my best memories and experiences

We have been there in November, already very cold, at the top North of Japan, very windy and snowy, 0 tourists there, it is the very end of the train lines, the very last stop with only 2 trains a day to Sapporo (4 hours). No Konbini there, 0 branded shops (no zara, no maruetsu, no starbucks, no don quijote etc), only 1 cash dispenser in a bank that does not accept any other card than the bank!! you get stuck with no cash very quickly.

What did I love there?

  • The truly genuine people, their faces looking close to Eastern Russians,
  • The calm, you hear the silence, you watch the cold sea back and forth,
  • The northernmost point of Japan,
  • The deers in the streets,
  • The shops all written in Russian,
  • The fish market with amazingly big produce, never seen crabs that size, the quality of fish, we had a blast.
  • The fact that you reset there and stop thinking in terms of speed, and accessibility, you review your priorities and I concede life in Wakkanai must be tough.
  • The nature

Highly recommended for an experience in Japan that is definitely and uniquely different

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Summarising – my best experiences

Among the top top top souvenirs is

Awa Odori

in Koenji, every August (this year from 12th 15th in Tokushima and end August in Koenji), a million of people gather in the street to see over 2000 dancers completing the Awa Odori dance. This is a o-bon dance, plenty of classes teach you and nowadays you can see Westerners dancing during the fair.

Make sure you cope with the crowds as it is absolutely packed but the atmosphere is truly family style, friendly, and the more you stay, the more you get into the vibes, it is almost transcendental, you get into it!!

Go for it. this dance dates back from the middle age in a southern city in Shikoku (Tokushima). You will see the woman dance, the men dance. extraordinary!!

It is a brilliant day out, enjoy the music, the atmosphere, sit in the cafes around for yakitori and beer evening. It was a must in my calendar, something I would never miss, and I even planned my holidays around it to make sure I would be here!!

Tapioca

and others should I say!

Japan is unbelievable when it comes to trends, you can see products develop in a week and disappear as quickly, in 2019, it was Tapioca, it was everywhere and now gone, look at that

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