The top 3 single events
Originally I only want to name the top 5. But they are hard to find. Shall I count the whole day or only single events even if the rest of the day was bad? At the end I split the top 5 into top 3+3.
- 9 public onsen and a small matsuri … On this evening everything was perfect. And I was a part of it. You cannot plan a situation like this. And you cannot repeat this. The adjective unique describes it the best.
- Shrine festival at Mozu Shrine, Oosaka … Also this event was not planned. But this time I only was a visitor. The matsuri was awesome. It lost one to Shibuonsen because I was a visitor.
- Moon Viewing … This was the third unplanned action. It was the event that put me deep into the Japanese culture. I am sure that a event like this will not be mentioned in the travel guides.
The list shows: A trip to Japan is more than visiting temples and castles. You also should plan for festivals. And you can derive another rule: Expect and follow diversions from the plan. All three events were not planned, they just happened, like the hiking in Hakone, the tour to the married rocks or the visit at the emperor palace in Kyoto.
The top 3 days
- Kamakura and Yokohama … This day was perfect sight seeing. Real holiday feeling. My plan for the day worked perfect. Not to much, no empty space. Just fine. Yokohama and Landmark Tower made it complete.
- Nara and Ikaruga … This day started in rain and got better every minute until 5pm when the closing time stopped the show. The amount of temples was like in Kamakura.
- Hakone and Shinjuku … Also place 3 is outside of Tokyo, Oosaka and Kyoto. It was hard to choose the third place. Another candidate was Miyajima.
Funny that all top-3 events happened on days I visited two places. And all days that didn’t make it on to the list were not bad. They were just midfield.
On the other side I will also mention the “worst 5”. The holiday not only haf sunny days.
- The bus tour to Fuji … This day sucked. I also can say: Get the bus from Shinjuku and never take the train. This odyssee has left marks since today. The only positive was the meeting with the other tourist. — felt success rate 10%.
- The day in Nikko … I underestimated the travel time. I got up late and lost 2 hours in the train. I missed most of the famous spots of Nikko, including the 3 monkeys. Success rate: 30%
- The day at Matsushima … Also here I underestimated the travel time and that ruined the day. But in retrospect it was successful than in Nikko.
- The barely used day in Yudanaka … It was somehow a lost day. The only success was to see the famous monkeys.
- The day in Kurashiki … The place was good. Kurashiki is worth a stop but I lost a whole day. This was not good.
Not in the list is the day I moved from Naruko back to Tokyo. This day was planned without a stop because I planned a long travel time and didn’t want to risk anything. Afterwards it seems like a stop was possible. And today (2012) with the internet time tables of Japan Rail it would be easy. On the other side: On the worst 5 days I always underestimated the travel time.
Also at the botttom of the list is the rainy day in Yudanaka. Also Iwakuni was not perfect.
Rulez for the next journey (in short)
- Drop the plan … examples: the visit to the emperor palace in Kyoto, the festival at Mozu shrine, or the drive to the married rocks. And also the hiking in Hakone and the visit to Yokohama were a result of dropping the original plan.
- You need a plan … Dropping the plan need a plan in the first place. And you need a plan because not always something happens by accident. The wasted day in Yudanaka is a good example.
- Do not underestimate the travel times … just look at the worst 3.
- JR is not everything … The bus from Shinjuku to Mt Fuji was the better idea. This I learnd after using JR trains. And there is an easier way to Nikko, if you use Keio-Line. Therefore alsays remember: There are several train and bus companies and not only JR.
- Always have enough money in your pocket … In Mozu and Nikko I ran out of money, also at the night before my flight back. Do not expect a ATM that accepts your credit card and be aware that on Sundays the ATM may be shut down.
- Ask the staff of hte hotel/ryokan for ideas … That was the way I learned about the moon viewing and the festival at Mozu shrine in Oosaka, and also about the snow monkeys and the 9 onsen in Yudanaka.
- A stop of you change the hotel … That always was a good idea. Himeji for example only offers the famous and mindblowing castle. It doesn’t need a whole day. The perfect aim for a ununsed day.
During my journey I met many peoples; tourist and locals. And I don’t mean the hotel staff, but people I met on the street. Here a list of my memorable meetings. I tried to sort them by the impact on my journey.
- Aquiring the kamidana (first the woman that drove me to the hardware store and after that the personal at the post office)
- Walking thru the active vulcanic field in Hakone.
- The drive to the married rocks with the member of Team Sauber.
- The game ogf Shogi in Oosaka.
- Walking up Mt. Misen (Miyajima) with the czech guy.
- Help the gaijin 1: The three japanese in Oosaka helping me to find the ryokan.
- Help the gaijin 2: The post office guy and the front clerk in the night before departure.
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