TOKYO: In the eyes of a backpacker, this is the modern Japan. You will see the advancement of this nation in technology when you visit this very busy capital. They say that your trip in Japan will never be complete without trying to cross at the Shibuya Crossing- the busiest street in the World. Approximately one million people walk down that pavement everyday. Unbelievable but true. If you are an anime’ fan. Visit Akahibara. This is also where gadgets-too-good-to-be-true are found. Yes, this is the kinda’ “techy” place in Japan. I strongly recommend that if you’re in Tokyo, maximize on modernity attractions, just like how Lonely Planet suggested it.
KYOTO: for me, this is the “old and real” Japan and this is where I met a real Maiko (apprentice Geisha) –considered as one of the highlights of my trip. Great Temples and gardens here are cheaper by the dozen too. I strongly recommend that you visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. A very unique place shaded by the calmness and grace of tall bamboo grass. The Golden Pavilion will also amaze you, for sure. If you have plenty of time, walk by the path of Philosophy. At night, stroll the streets of Gion, and if you are lucky enough like me, you might meet a Maiko who will be willing to pose with you in front of the camera.
HIROSHIMA: this is where is saw one of the best scenic icons i have seen in my life. From Hiroshima proper, i took the ferry to Miyijima. The Floating Torii Gate will take your breath away. I found a good spot with the perfect view… truly, conducive to reflect and daydream! I sat on one of the bench that faces the sea and the torii, the serenity and ambiance- undeniably perfect. The “almost seven hour trip” from Tokyo via Shinkansen is more than worth it. By the way, do not forget to check the A-dome freedom park, right at the center of Hiroshima. The Museum is also a must see. one of the best and “touchiest” I’ve seen so far.
NIKKO: it was snowing when i visited this place. Though very cold, i can’t help but be astonished and mesmerized by this UNESCO site. Yes, the whole area is a world heritage site. Truly amazing. Magical and Beautiful. The snow that caps the wooden torii and the five-storey pagoda is like magic dust that transformed the whole place into wonderland. The temples and gardens are just so magnificent. By the way, when you get to Nikko, instead of taking the bus to the site (from the station),i suggest that you walk. It’s about 45 minutes by foot from the station to the temples. With this, you will not miss the red bridge. You will understand what i mean. When you get there. Remember, from the station, WALK. Do not take the bus.