The most anticipated event in summer is certainly the Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival). It is where the yearly Hanabi Taikai (Fireworks Display) illuminates Japan’s night sky. Just as what we see in the anime where locals wear yukata or jinbei, dance the traditional “bon odori” and witness breathtaking firework exhibitions, indeed, the summer festival in Japan is not to be missed.
Soak up the culture and experience the intensity of various firework shows from each areas in Gifu Prefecture this year!
Autumn is one of my favourite season in Japan. Come the “-ber” months and the air becomes chill, the leaves slowly turn red and the autumn colours grace the environment with its beauty. Have an ultimate fall experience by traversing to the most spectacular autumn spots in Japan!
Here’s a list of recommendations to fulfill your autumn foliage travel goals this fall season:
Arashiyama has been on the list of the must-visit tourist spots when in Japan. Its charm and popularity unwavering over the past years for obvious reasons, it has a lot of tourist attractions – the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Kimono Forest, Tenryuji Temple, Togetsukyo Bridge, Monkey Park and the Boat Tour are some places of interest.
Location: 〒Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Ukyō-ku
2. Kiyomizudera Temple
Kiyomizudera being one of Kyoto’s most popular temples offers an exquisite cityscape view of Kyoto from the main hall. The red leaves of the trees enveloping the temple and shrines around the area will look like fiery flames during sunset. Although the said historical structure is under renovation, it doesn’t hinder vacationers to enjoy the main hall.
The Ena Gorge, located in Ena City, Gifu Prefecture is one of the off-beaten tracks you can visit. Enjoy the scenic area in a boat and spot some mysterious rock formations as you glide along the river.
Location: Gifu Prefecture, Ena City, Oi-machi, Okudo 2709-104
8. Meiji Mura
Get lost in the past and discover some of the structures built in Japan during the Meiji Period. Dress up either in a traditional Japanese school uniform or in a Western-style clothing.
Are you a deer whisperer? This is your chance to feed and take a selfie with the deer freely roaming around the Nara Park. Just a gentle reminder to try to be vigilant as some deer have the tendency to charge at tourists anytime.
You cannot miss out Korankei Gorge located in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. It is a favorite among tourists who visit Central Japan in autumn. Gracing the valley with colorful tones, no wonder each year the flock of visitors increase, making the place congested!
Getting off the bus stop in Korankei, the tourist spot is easy to distinguish because of the crowd. A single ginkgo tree will welcome you towards the valley. If you want to shoot without people getting your way, going to a different course is recommended. Instead of crossing the pedestrian lane, go down the stone stairs to enjoy the view of Korankei. As I arrived there, some of the photographers already claimed their spots to capture the beauty that is the same as what I captured:
While the afternoon view is a beau, wait until the golden hour happens and get surrounded by the stunning color variation of the valley. I got to witness the autumn colors in daylight and dawn when the trees are illuminated. The scenery in the afternoon and night varies greatly but both have their own charms. Production crews televised the crowd of people, interviewed some of their Korankei experience despite the cold windy weather and showcased the highlights of the illumination.
Autumn festival is held every November wherein lots of food stands line up along the streets. Also, there are a few restaurants where you can warm up from the chilly weather.
How to get to Korankei from Nagoya Station:
1. Go to Higashiyama Line (Platform 1 towards Sakae, Higashiyamakoen Fujigaoka) and drop off at Fushimi Station
2. From Fushimi Station transfer to Tsurumai Line and stay on the train until you arrive at Josui Station
3. From Josui Station, go to the Toyota Oiden bus station
4. Ride the bus bound for Hyakunenso（百年草行）and alight at Korankei
You cannot let summer pass without doing barbecue party and river wading. When you want to go somewhere relaxing and far away from the stressful city life, the Wood Design Park in Okazaki is one of the best summer escapades you’ll not want to miss out. The park boasts its “wood tile design” which sets the mood in a state of tranquillity. Moreover, it is being surrounded by nature as it is located in the outskirts of Okazaki City.
You can see the hanging pod
Inside the greenhouse-like architecture
There are three plans for the barbecue courses you can choose from, the first one is bringing your own food (reservation until 5pm one day before arrival), the second one is going empty handed wherein the management provides the food (reservation 3 days before arrival), and the last one is the rooftop plan wherein customers will have to bring their own food and take the rooftop spot (reservation until 5pm one day before arrival). All plans are inclusive to unlimited non-alcoholic drinks.
Variation of styles
Above the river
From outdoor treetops to hanging wooden pods, the park presents different kinds of spot you can explore. To fully experience the luxurious glamping, visitors are encouraged to swim or wade in the rivers surrounding the park.
Business Hours: 10:30 AM – 6:00 PM (Morning Session: 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM; Afternoon Session: 2:30PM – 5:30 PM)
Toyokawa Inari is one of the shrines where you can see hundreds of fox statues. The fox statue, being a popular diety in Japan, is believed to bring prosperity to its devotees.
Entrance to the fox stones
It is said that the fox statues were donated to the shrine by industries with their names carved below the stone to pray for the success and growth of their businesses. Thus, resulting to the infamous hundred fox stones.
At the opposite side of the shrine entrance is a place called ‘Monzencho’ where small souvenir shops and restaurants offer various local delicacies. You should not miss it the special Inarizushi they are selling here!
Access: 442-0033 Aichi-ken, Toyokawa-shi, Toyokawachō (accessible by train)
This trip was made possible by KIS International Tour’s one day bus tour. If you want to know more of their tour packages, feel free to comment below.
Suhara Himawari no Sato is found in the neighbouring prefecture of Aichi – in Mino City, Gifu Prefecture. With almost 30,000 (big and small) floras, this sunflower maze is a sure delight to tourists.
A group of wild sunfloras appeared!
Let’s go deeper in the maze
If you are into cosplaying and want to add spice in your photo sessions with the sunflower, then Suhara Himawari no Sato is the place for you! There is a myriad of costumes they provide for their patrons with a rental fee of 200 yen for one hour per costume.
If you have watched Studio Ghibli’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, you will be familiar with Kiki’s costume and her cat, Jiji riding the broomstick. Kiki’s costume is the most popular, with a simple dark blue dress and a red bow-tie headband, there is no hassle in transforming into a witch. Imagine that – you can be an enchantress and float above the sea of yellows and greens!
Access: 468-3 Shimokowa, Mino City, Gifu Prefecture, Japan
MUST-SEE SIDE TRIPS!
While you’re at it at Mino City, you can visit some of its charm points that will surely make your trip worthwhile.
I wanted to wade in the water
The Nagara River will greet you upon arriving to Suhara Station. Beat the summer heat by swimming in this river and do barbecue party with your family and friends. Do not forget to bring a change of clothes and remember to always be vigilant and extra conscious about your safety though!
Corner of Worship Hall
Corner of Worship Hall
Just less than 10-minute walk from the sunflower field, you can see the Suhara Shrine. Worshippers visit this shrine for good harvest as it is known as a shrine for the god of agriculture.
Travel back in time to the Edo period and see the Udatsu-styled houses near the Umeyama station. Kimono rentals for men and women are available for your full experience as you indulge deeper in the traditional culture of Udatsu. (Rental fee is 1,500 yen. Reservation is necessary through 090-3934-3443). You can also visit the Ogurayama Castle Ruins just near the vicinity.
Access: Mino, Gifu Prefecture 501-3701
Old Meitetsu Mino Station
Old Meitetsu Mino Station
One Man Car
Old Meitetsu Mino Station
Old Meitetsu Mino Station
Situated nearby the contemporary Mino City Station, the Old Meitetsu Mino Station retains its entrance façade, the ticketing booth and a little part of the railway displaying three old Meitetsu train wagons. This is another area to go retro and feel the olden days of Japan.
Ever wondered what Cherry Blossoms look like during autumn or missed the sakura this year and planning a trip on autumn? Fret not because you can actually see the cherry blossoms during the autumn season in Obara Town in Aichi Prefecture, leaving you in complete awe of its unique charm!
The Shikizakura (Four-Seasons Cherry Blossom) is popular among tourists for its amazing wonder. The Cherry Blossom tree is thought to be a hybrid of the species called “mamezakura” and “edohigan” and blooms first in spring (around March-April) and in autumn (around late October – early December). With about 10,000 trees throughout the district, tourists can indulge in the colourful landscape the town offers.
THE BEST TIME TO VIEW THE SHIKIZAKURA
The Shikizakura usually begins to bloom in late October and is at their peak in mid-November. However, the peak time varies yearly.
ACCESS TO OBARA FUREAI KOEN FROM NAGOYA:
For those who can understand Japanese, they can rely here (for the oiden bus. 豊田市- 小原大草) or in this website (both for bus and train schedules)
Here’s the schedule for Toyotashi Station and Obara Ohkusa I translated for your convenience.
* Schedule is subject to change depending on certain circumstances such as weather, road constructions, delay of departure, etc.
From the Obara Fureai Koen, you can see the four-season cherry blossom, its rosy white petals contrasting the red, orange, yellow and green hues of the autumn air which makes the view breath-taking. They hold yearly autumn festival in the cherry blossom haven, showcasing the town’s specialty products and talents while offering the visitors free warm drinks.
Last year’s cherry blossom didn’t bloom that well though, according to the local staff. Nevertheless, seeing the Sakura petals was a delight from a spring and autumn fanatic like me.
It’s thanks to Gosho Aoyama, the creator of the manga Detective Conan (also known as Case Closed) that we enjoy countless crimes, crime scene investigations, hopes for Conan to transform into his original form as Shinichi, and the Holmes fanatic staying in his true form forever. Because let’s admit it, we have that longing for Ran and Shinichi to have their happily ever after, right?
As a celebration for the popularity of the manga and anime, the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory is established in the town of Hokuei in Tottori Prefecture. In addition to that, a number of Detective Conan artefacts – bronze statues, stone monuments are built, and pavement signs and manholes are even inspired by the anime around town. To make your visit a memorable one, why not take the challenge of finding all of the relics?
Pass by the Conan Bridge and you will see a handful of Conan statues.
Go further the Conan Street, and you will find the Kudo Residence. Let Conan know you’re there by ringing the doorbell. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Explore into the Beika Shopping Street beside the Kudo Residence and try the Conan Gelato or warm yourself with a coffee in a Conan-themed cup! (More artifacts are found here!)
On your way in finding the last artifacts, you will surely pass by the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory – a museum established in honor of the man behind the world-renowned animation. At the museum, the professor’s car and the junior detective club will welcome you. Inside the museum is apparently 7 rooms where you can immerse yourself in the world of Case Closed. You can even use Conan’s bowtie voice changing experience and sound like Conan, imagine what it feels like to ride Conan’s skateboard and more!
This is your chance, aspiring Junior Detectives, Conan Edogawa is waiting for you!
From Tottori station, ride the San-In Line towards Yonago then alight at Yura Station (the one way ride takes approximately 1 hour and 7 minutes and costs 840 yen)
A taxi is available near Yura station which can show you around town and transport you to the museum.
A discount in the museum will be given upon showing of passport or residence card!
Hokuei town map is available in Tottori station / Yura station and you may take one for free
Yura station tourist information center is open from 9:00 am to 5:15 pm. You can rent a bicycle for 400 yen and a more detailed guide map for 200 yen and coin lockers are available for 500 yen.
The infamous sand dunes in Japan is finally getting its recognition in recent years!
Definitely a one-of-a-kind experience, Tottori Sand Dunes located in Tottori Prefecture, in the Chuugoku Region of Japan is slowly showcasing its charm and attracting more tourists.
The expanse of this tourist spot stretches 16 km from east to west and 2.4 km from north to south, with the lowest and highest point having a 90 m height difference. Once you step in, you may be reminded of its likeness of the deserts around the world.
You may be having an image of Japan as a country full of hot springs, ryokans, temples, anime, and maid cafes, but seeing the sand dunes where you can ride a camel, do sandboarding and paragliding from the sand hill is quite unthinkable isn’t it?
While it is possible to ride a camel, you can also just opt for a Photo Op with a camel for only 500 yen. The camel riding is inclusive of Photo Op for 1,300 for one person. A photographer will be present to take pictures from your device and in addition to that, he will also take another from his camera as a service. Claiming of the picture will be at Rakudaya Shop (らくだや) just across the Sand Dunes. The 3R size (or L size in Japan) of the photo will be given for free while the A5 size will be available too and it comes with a Camel-themed photo holder for 1,100 yen.
Sandboarding and paragliding activities require reservations. Both activities operate for certain periods only.
Apparently, the sand dunes has introduced a new activity called “Sakyu Segway”. This experience provides yet another unique experience wherein tourists can traverse across the sand dunes on wheels. The slots are limited for 300 persons this Golden Week (April 28 – May 6). Reserve a slot here!
It is preferable to go by car for a free entrance. A free parking is available near the Rakudaya Shop. Going by bus will require to ride the lift in order to arrive to the actual sand dunes. By doing so, purchasing from a ticket machine (300 for round trip, 200 for one way) outside the souvenir shop will be required.
And while you’re at it, visit the Sand Museum too! It will be open from April 2018 to January 2019.
Keep in mind that the bus operation schedule around Tottori doesn’t go till late night so for a convenient stay, it is advisable to book a hotel near the station.
Access by bus: From Tottori station, ride the bus at bus stop 0 (zero) to tottori sand dunes (370 yen).
Visit the three shrines to have a good luck in love!
Located in Nagoya, the three shrines, namely Takamu Shrine (高牟神社) Yamada Tenmangu (山田天満宮) and Shiroyama Hachimangu (城山八幡宮) are said to grant you good fortune in love.
Upon visiting the shrine, visitors will need to get a paper in pink color and inside it is another paper called 願いの文or Wish Statement. In Yamada Tenmangu and Shiroyama Hachimangu, the pink papers are also placed somewhere the shrine, so visitors can take one and get it stamped by the officials. Visitors need to pay 100 yen per stamp in each shrine.
First stamp at Takamu Shrine!
Got my paper stamped in Yamada Tenmangu!
Cleared all three stamps and you got an additional stam in the front page!
In my case the paper is already stamped when I bought it and I just have to pay for a hundred yen. And after collecting three stamps from each shrine, a souvenir is given regardless which shrine you came last. In addition to that, they will ask you to write in the Wish Statement.
So why are these shrines called the power spots of love?
In Takamu Shrine, it is believed that its water well has one of the best waters in Japan and is famous for granting longevity and a promise of romance once you drink it.
In Yamada Tenmangu, a stone of a couple snuggling who watches for everyone’s happiness in love can be spotted in the shrine. Throw a donation in the box on the left and touch the stone while asking for a wish.
The Renriboku in Shiroyama Hachimangu is known as the sacred tree for matchmaking and marriage. You can also touch this tree and make a wish! Beside the tree are wooden wishing plaques (ema) with people’s hopes and wishes written on it. The location of this tree is pretty tricky since it strays away from the shrine. If you want to get there, from the area between the parking and entrance of the shrine, walk on path to the left then to the curved path and you will notice a huge tree with a rope tied around it.
Here are the details about the three shrines:
There is no decided sequence in which shrine you have to visit first, but since the shrines are a few blocks away from each other, it is recommended to visit the nearest shrine from your location first.
Here’s my recommended route if you depart from Nagoya Station:
Aside from love luck, each shrine also offers various lucky charms and also grants different kinds of good luck so make the best out of your visit in all shrines!
古井の水 = 恋の水 because 恋 and 古井 are both read as Koi. Hence, 恋の水 may be a wordplay of 古井の水.
Click here if you want to find out more shrines with love luck near you!
It is my first time to experience snowfall in the month of February, as we are living in central Japan, we only have those 2-3 days of snowfall for the whole winter season. I thought that after the January snow, spring would welcome me with its cherry blossoms but February gave me another chance to see the pristine landscape of the countryside of Japan! So I headed out to the park and made a new friend~