Shimogamo Shrine

Shimogamo Shrine (下鴨神社), linked to the northern Kamimono Shrine, is part of the world heritage sites in Kyoto. It is one of the oldest shrines in Japan, thought to be dating back to the 6th century. Not one of the most popular shrines, but worth visiting if you have done the most famous ones alreadyContinue reading “Shimogamo Shrine”

Kamigamo Shrine

Kamigamo Shrine (上賀茂神社), twinned with Shimogamo Shrine to the south, is an important Shinto shrine in northern Kyoto. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is known across the country for its iconic Tatesuna & Saiden sand cones. The shrine is also surrounded by a picturesque primeval forest. Budget travel tips Visiting shrines can getContinue reading “Kamigamo Shrine”

Bitchu-Takahashi

For some reason completely unknown to most tourists, including Japanese tourists, Bitchu-Takahashi (備中高梁) presented one of the most surprising castles we have ever visited. After visiting nearby cities and towns such as Okayama and Kurashiki, Bitchu-Takahashi  was a breath of fresh air. It’s an average town, but with a scattering of fascinating and traditional relicsContinue reading “Bitchu-Takahashi”

Kochi

Kochi (高知) is a large city in southern Shikoku containing the usual attractions of shrines and a castle, but with a few very unique, and often shocking, tourist spots such as the dog fighting culture. Budget travel tips Make sure you bring and show your passport at the Tourist Information Center outside Kochi station whenContinue reading “Kochi”

Miyazaki

Miyasaki (宮崎), located in south eastern Kyushu, is a prefecture well known across the country for a stunning coastline and moderate climate. While it has seen better days in terms of tourist income, the prefecture is making a real effort to get visitors back, with generous discounts and transportation deals. The area has both great shrinesContinue reading “Miyazaki”

Izumo-taisha

Izumo Taisha (出雲大社) is a grand shrine, considered one of Japans top 3. Located in northern Chugoku, it is an essential stop if you are in the region. It is therefore a hugely popular shrine, but never feels overly crowded. The folklore behind the shrine says that the gods from all over Japan gather atContinue reading “Izumo-taisha”

Matsue

Matsue (松江) is a pleasant castle city, known as the ‘city of water’ due to its spiralling canals and setting on a lake. Best known for its original castle due to the previous status as a feudal stronghold, Matsue also has some fascinating local history and is a lovely city for a quiet stroll. Budget travel tipsContinue reading “Matsue”

Mount Mitake

Mt. Mitake (御岳山) is considered a sacred mountain by many Japanese, who frequently make a pilgrimage from Tokyo to the shrines up the mountain and on top. The 929 metre tall summit is easily, and cheaply, accessible from the big city and provides great views of Kanto. Alongside Mount Takao, the best mountain for hiking inContinue reading “Mount Mitake”

Izu Peninsula

Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島) is a famous hot spring and sightseeing destination, and a popular side trip from Tokyo. While not that popular with foreign tourists, it is becoming increasing well-known. A host of passes make it a great travel idea for budget travellers. Budget travel tips The Minami Izu Free Pass is great for travel in andContinue reading “Izu Peninsula”

Narita City

Got some time to kill before or after a flight at Narita Airport? Narita City (成田) has a few things to check out, and can definitely occupy a good day of travel. Budget travel tip When booking with an LCC airline, don’t be afraid to book the cheapest flights if it means a short stayContinue reading “Narita City”

Kanda Myojin Shrine

Kanda Myojin Shrine (神田明神) is a major Shinto shrine near Akihabara and Ueno. Over 1000 years old, the buildings have been stunningly reserved and the garden even more so. People visit the shrine to pray for prosperity and wealth. Budget travel tips Walk from Akihabara. After geeking out, walk north up the main street (Chuo Dori) andContinue reading “Kanda Myojin Shrine”

Mount Daisen

Mount Daisen (大山) is a volcanic mountain in the Chugoku region with amazing views over the northern mountains from 1,729 metres above sea level. This makes it the highest in the region, so it has a lot of significance to Japanese people. The mountain is therefore dotted with stunning shrines and temples, and has becomeContinue reading “Mount Daisen”