Things I loved about Japan
1. Public Transport
"How easy is it to navigate the public transport system in Japan?" - is one of the questions I am asked the most. Well, I can assure you it’s incredibly easy! When I received my itinerary from our wonderful local ground handlers, the information detailed all the public transport I would need to use as part of the trip. Depending on the trip, you’ll be using a mixture of trains, subway and buses. On the main Island (Honshu) you’ll find signs written in English for all public transport and if you’re ever unsure, someone will be on hand to ask. It was honestly so easy, there is no need to worry!
2. Temples located... are everywhere!
3. Mountains... also everywhere!
I was amazed at how close the mountains were to the big cities. Even in the bustling and busy Tokyo, you’ll have a backdrop of tree-lined mountain ranges. It's beautiful.
4. Onsens (bathing)
Again, this is another concern I get asked about quite often, as the concept of communal bathing (gender segregated) is something quite difficult to the norm. I was quite apprehensive about it myself, but I ended up loving it! After a long day’s walk, a hot spring bath is just the tonic. My colleague Laura explained the custom very well in her blog about Japanese lodgings.
5. The trails
This was my main reason for travelling to Japan, to experience the hiking trails, and I was not disappointed. I knew the walking was going to be good, but it far exceeded my expectations. Regardless of which trip you decide to embark on, you will walk through atmospheric bamboo forests, past ancient shrines and be rewarded with some of the most breath-taking views you’ll ever see. This was my first visit to Japan but it certainly won’t be my last.
5 Food or drink experiences I won't forget
The culinary experience was so great, it deserves its own category!
2. Local specialities
I loved how different regions had their own little twist on dishes. I had wonderful cold noodle dishes in Shikoku Island, and 3 different ways with Plums whilst walking the Kumano Kodo (ice cream, wine & pickled)
I developed a taste for Saki and Green Tea (not together though!). I even sampled some ice cold Jasmine Tea, and it was fantastic.
With every meal on the trail, you will find a selection of pickles. Some like Umeboshi (pickled plums) are very sour and not to everyone’s taste (I heartily recommend trying them though), but others like lotus root and cabbage are a delight.
5. Kit Kats
I wouldn’t normally mention a chocolate bar as one of my favourite things, but there are so many weird and wonderful flavours available in Japan, you’ll never look at your milk chocolate kit kat in the same light again. Current available flavours are Matcha Green Tea, Purple Sweet Potato, Wasabi and my favourite, Raspberry! My time sampling these trails is not only a memory which will last forever, but a great opportunity to learn more about travel to Japan. I'm here to answer any questions, and more than happy to enthuse you about the great things awaiting you on a trip to Japan! You can contact me, or my colleagues, about any self-guided walking holiday to Japan or beyond!