3 Weeks of Springtime Sakura in Japan

Location MapDuration: 23 days
Expenses: $92/day in expenses, $30/day for JR Rail Pass
Total: AUD$2,800 or ¥240,000

Japan is certainly a destination for all seasons. I feel like I need to live there to really experience all the colours and many faces of the landscapes. This year I travelled to Japan for a little over three weeks to see springtime cherry blossoms during Sakura. It was so contrasting to the last time I went during Japan over New Years one winter.

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Na gunna go to Nagano ever again (not)

Location MapNagano, famous in my mind for the Winter Olympics, but I wasn’t sure what else. I assumed a place famous for snow wasn’t all that flash in the spring, but we still found plenty of fun to fill a day and met some nice people along the way.
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Neo Tokyo

image Neo Tokyo, futuristic vending machines, funky fashion, neon signs, bright lights, enormous crowds and orderly lines. In actual fact I’m sure there is loads more about Tokyo that I don’t know because it’s not exactly a city that makes sense at all. Tokyo is a city of extremes that pretty much sums up Japan.
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Gargantuan April snow walls on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Crossing

Location MapThe Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Crossing is a unique way to traverse a mountain range. Definitely the strangest crossing I’ve done and easily the most accessible. You can rely on several different public transport links to take you over 2,500m and through the mountains. In the warmer months it would be possible to walk and camp some sections. For me though I was curious to see the giant snow walls in spring which often tower over the buses – multiple stories high.
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Super spring Sapporo after the snow but before the blossoms

image I think Sapporo was my favourite stop in Japan despite missing the snow, the ice festival and being too early for spring sakura. Travel is often full of these sorts of pleasant surprises and it once again proves that people and experiences make the place. Not the number of things to do, not the number of bars, clubs or festivals and certainly not the price tags.
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Happy times in Hakodate

image A Japanese port city with a lot of western influences, wedged between the Sea of Japan and the pacific ocean. What does this mean? Well it means it bears some other character not seen in other Japanese cities and it boasts rich and fresh seafood of course!
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Camping overnight on the mountains of Zao Onsen

Location MapZao Onsen has always intrigued me. I once saw a photo taken by a friend who had gone snowboarding there with a little Domo Kun toy amongst the snow monsters. Maybe it’s this photo that’s burned into my memory, maybe its the allure of Japanese powder skiing, the best and purest Onsen in Japan or maybe the name just sounds freaking cool. Whatever it was, after researching a butt load of things to do in northern Honshu the only thing I was sure about was that I needed to go there and the time was now.
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Fuji-san and the Five Lakes

imageI had a good feeling about going to Mt Fuji and the Five Lakes. I’d once seen Mt Fuji on a clear evening while traveling along the Tokkaido shinkansen. Fuji-san and the sky were glowing pastel purples and pinks and the clouds looked like they were alight. I could see instantly why the Japanese revere Fuji. I really want to watch sunrise from the summit one day.

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Nipping through Nikko

Location MapNipping is a funny word to associate with Nikko, because on this trip we did nip through, having barely stayed for 24 hours, but also since we decided to camp overnight out of season and so the night was quite nippy (or as I like to say – nipple-y). Just enough time though to zoom through the famed shrines and see Lake Chuzenji in the national park.
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Japanese garden perfection at Kenrokuen in Kanazawa

image Kanazawa home of the famous Kenrokuen. One of only a few Japanese gardens labeled as perfect. Kenrokuen is also famed for being an all seasons garden so if you’re lucky enough to visit on different occasions you will see its many expressions. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Kanazawa and the Kenrokuen in winter and in spring, but I suspect autumn will be the most spectacular with all the maples and the colours of deciduous trees that seem to be spread very liberally about the gardens.
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