For those of you who wonder what the best season to Japan is, I would say that you need to consider October and November for the autumn colors
Part of the Shinto philosophy is about the nature and Japanese citizens take time to admire nature and season changing. We got into that mode too and spend a lot of time outdoor, peace, hike, wander, weather in Japan is a blessing in that season. temperatures gradually decrease from the exhausting 38 in the summer (90% humidity) to 10 in December, blue sky, dry air, very nice
That’s it!! I can now say that I explored Japan from North to South, from Wakkanai to Ishigaki!!
We spent 3 days at the end of November in Wakkanai, and visited the northernmost point there.
VERY cold and snowy already
SOOOO unique… it felt like there were no inhabitants, very special, hardly any cars, hardly any people outside in the streets, very old fashioned shops. Most of them have signposts in Russian since we are so close.
There was a very limited choice of restaurants in town, so much so that we had to plan our 3 days around that list and booked them, stick to their working hours, etc
it is also the last train station up north, 2 trains a day to Sapporo, first time that we go to a station where you watch the train coming to you through the window as the rail does not go beyond (see above photo)
amazingly fresh, simple, fish based, excellent, every meal was of very good quality
we had one lunch above the fish market, that was cute, 2 senior ladies run the place, tatami rooms, set lunch with excellent sashimi
we also had a very good dinner in a sashimi/sushi place
overall, great if you like fish
We realised it had been so many years since we could tell the closest restaurant chain was over 3h drive away (no starbucks, no mc donald, no TGI etc,), there were actually no chains at all and it was even difficult to find a Kombini!! On the Sunday, I needed cash and could not find any ATM, go prepared
really nice and smiling, curious, happy and proud to see us visiting, willing to share
fish market – a small place but fantastic products, the fishmongers really tried hard to show us, explain, and even took us in the back office to see the crabs
Northermost point – so windy and cold but wild and beautiful, this is a 40mn bus drive from the train station, very easy, there is a bus every 20mn, they dont take suica or pasmo, you have to buy the ticket at the counter in the station or in the bus if you have change. Once there, apart from the monument itself, there is a hill with a windmill, a shrine and a breathtaking view over Russia and the sea, but my god, was it cold and windy that day!!
this is a great place for a quiet week end – hiking and walking in the summer must be beautiful – in the winter, meditation, peace,
on day 2, at breakfast, there were deers in the garden behind the hotel. on day 3, we saw more of them wandering in the streets. a different Japan all together, we will go again! loved it after all
There is one place I love when going to Takao san, it is their restaurant Ukai! This is a beautiful way to finish the day in style, you can either hike in the morning and have a lunch or hike at leisure and get an early dinner, the last order is at 19h00 so dont miss out,
the restaurant is composed of old traditional houses they brought to create a village, each house is a “table” and there are houses for kitchen, service, etc. it is set in the woods with lovely gardens, it is a moment in time
Food is about traditional cuisine, tofu, grilled chicken, river fish grilled in the park, tatami room, waiter in traditional attires, count between 7500 and JPY 10000 all included depending on your menu choice, it is a real experience, good food, good service, but extraordinary day!
50mn train away from Shinjuku Station is Takao San, a mountain in Tokyo’s doorsteps. it is an easy hike, about 2 hours up, a lot of nature and peaceful moment. so it can end up being crowded but it remains a nice place.
Spring is nice, you avoid the heat in town, if you go in the morning, it is not that packed and the square close to the cable car has shops and cafes for a break
Taking the cable car also take you to a panorama, there is a cafe with terrace there that has barbecue in the late spring as well as beer garden
in the autumn, it is a scenic place to admire the autumn leaves so get ready for long queues, lots of people, packed trains. this is 95% Japanese tourism and not very known by foreigners (yet), I hope it stays like that