Japan - Day 11

Right now I am riding the Shinkansen (Japanese high speed bullet train with 270km/h average (!!) speed) from Kyoto to Mishima on my way to mount Fuji. I spent the last couple of days in Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka and Nara. I did a lot the last few days and I am a bit tiered now, looking forward for a relaxing hike tomorrow. See details for the whole article.

Table of contents

On Monday evening I arrived in Kyoto. It's a huge and interesting city. The public transportation there is a bit difficult, as there are only two subway lines from North – South and East – West, regional trains and buses. Especially the buses aren't really tourist friendly. The older ones and stations have signs that are written in Japanese only. For this case I recommend to ask someone for help, if you can find someone that speaks English. I managed to get around anyways, but it takes a lot of time, as buses also stuck in traffic jams.

The first night in Kyoto was really nice. I was lucky to be there for a special festival where all the temples were open until the late night. I could take some nice shots from this awesome area. I met two very nice Japanese girls there: Yuka and her friend offered me their help as it seams that I looked like that I was lost. 

I met a girl from Germany at my hostel in Kyoto. She studies Japanese which really helps a lot here so I decided to visit some sights with her :-D

Tuesday and Wednesday were rainy unfortunately. So far I could do some of the sights even it was raining, but I postponed the major sights for tomorrow Friday.

I went to Hiroshima by Shinkansen on Wednesday. On the way, I actually wanted to update my blog, but somehow it happened, that I sat next to Japanese people that were curious where I was from. One of them, a 70 year old bio-ethic professor was even able to speak German! They visited Vienna already four times! When we arrived at Hiroshima they guided me to the right street car to my hostel and really took care of me :-)

In Hiroshima I went to the "A-Bomb Dome" at night. It is one of only a few buildings that remained from the atomic nuclear strike enforced by the United States. I took some shots at night and went back to my hostel. The location of the hostel was only a few hundred meters away from the hypo-center of the explosion. Scary isn't it?

The next day, Thursday, I went to Miyajima to see the O-torri gate. It's a "swimming" gate and it's famous for Hiroshima. I hiked up the mountain and went down to the ferry station again. It was really nice and I needed to take care of my camera because of wild life such as monkeys and deers.

In the afternoon I went to the Peace Memorial Park to see the museum. This was really impressing and depressing at the same time. You could see how Hiroshima looked before the atomic bomb explosion and after it. So many people died within a second. Mostly innocent civilians, children, whole families. Years after the nuclear strike and even now people still get cancer and other diseases caused by radioactive rays that still remains.

On Thursday night I met Yuka and Yuri again for dinner. We had traditional Japanese food and also some Sake (rice wine) and Shouchu (rice and potato schnapps). After dinner we went to a photo "studio" where we took some crazy pictures.

I postponed some of the major sights of Kyoto to Friday, because of the bad weather and I was lucky: The weather on Friday in Kyoto was way better than before. So I went to see the major sights like the Kinkaku-ji, a golden pavilion or the 1000 Torii gates in the South East .

At night I met again mit Yuka, Yuri and two other friends of them for a small house party. It was nice talking to them about Japan and actually the whole world.

Unfortunately I had to change my hostel in Kyoto and stayed at a really small place that looked more like a prison, no windows, one small room for four people.

Saturday morning I got up really early to go to Himeji castle. It is the biggest in Nippon (Japan) and realy interesting to see. I arrived really early and could avoid to wait to get in. I could take some nice shots of this castle in 1610. I stayed at the castle for about 3 hours.

When I went out of the castle, there were at least 1000 or even more people in a huge long queue waiting to get in. In Himeji Many other backpackers I met on the way warned me that the castle is a very touristy place and yes it is! Go there very early morning to avoid waiting for hours to be able to get in.

I went to the Japanese garden right next to the castle and had green tea in a typical tea house. An worth-doing ceremony although it's pretty short.

At night I went to Osaka, the second largest city in Japan. The city itself doesn't have any famous sights, the castle they have there was rebuilt recently and is less impressive than Himeji. In fact it is a business city. It has a lot of offices, restaurants and bars. I went out Saturday to see a more less famous skyscraper called "Sky Building", which is close to Osaka station. I met a Scotsman at the train station who couldn't find a place to stay. His name was Craig. I told him that the place I am staying at might have vacancy. We went up the skyscraper together and took some night pictures of Osaka.

I stayed one night in a capsule hotel and they did have another free capsule for Craig. The hotel was really interesting. You needed to rent a special locker if you wanted to charge your laptop or phone etc. Actually nearly everything you needed to pay extra, like RyanAir-. Well the internet was for free, but only for the time you were checked in. I wanted to use the internet right after I checked out to save the booking confirmation of the next hotel and they didn't allow me to use it. I am not joking, they told me I checked out, so I am not allowed to use it. W.T.F.? The staff in general simply sucked a lot. They didn't make me feel as a guest or comfortable. Although I have to say that the hotel itself was really nice and sleeping in the capsule was good.

Some people I met in the lobby told me about the Sumo fight and that the finals will take place on Sunday in Osaka. I went together with Craig to see that. The ticket was really expensive but it was worth-doing it. A sumo fight isn't actually longer than ten seconds usually, but it was getting more and more interesting when last comparators had to fight against each other. The hall was completely booked out and all the Japanese people were really excited! The last fight was actually really "long". I don't know how much the fighters weight was, but I would guess at least 200kg.There were two European fighters by the way. One from Bulgaria, the other one from Estonia.

Sunday night I went to Nara, which is close to Osaka and Kyoto. I stayed at a new guest house. Everything was made of wood. It was really nice and the staff was extremely friendly and still it was really cheap.

Unfortunately I didn't stay very long in Nara. I got up early morning to see most of the sights such as the Kasuga Taisha or the Todaj-Ji. I had to leave Nara already early afternoon to go to Kyoto again to take the Shinkansen to Mishima which is close to mount Fuji. This is where I am currently in. In Mishima I need to change to a bus that will bring me to the town at mount Fuji. This will take about two hours to get there.

So far, from the Schinkansen somewhere between Kyoto and Mishima, Japan, Dominik

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Releated articles of my tour

  • Japan Tour 2010
    Main article about the trip
  • Day 4
    All about Tokyo and first impressions of Japan
  • Day 11
    Visiting Kyoto, Hiroshima and it's sad history, Himeji castle, Osaka, Nara
  • Day 12
    My incredible trip to mount Fuji, having a bath in an Onsen and walking around in Kawaguchiko
  • Day 16
    Tokyo again in cherry blossom, fish market Tsukiji, seeing the three monkies in Nara and Yokohama

Photoblogs from the trip

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