Still blogging after 16 years
I LOVE JAPAN
Why do I love Japan so much?
How much do you know Japan?
Things have been slowly looking better for Japan and I have spent the first two months of the year busy exploring new places around Japan – virtually or not. The allure of Japan is simply endless. Today, I will be introducing a new itinerary to explore the Central Japan region.
We will be looking at 4 main prefectures: Gifu, Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui, with Nagoya city as the base for this travel itinerary. The Central Japan Region is a year-round destination that offers an abundance of nature and delicious food every season. My favorite is still winter, though, given the inland of Central Japan gets plenty of snowfall in the colder months, making it a magical wonderland especially for tropical creatures like me!
Plan your next winter holiday in Central Japan by using the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass to enjoy five days of unlimited rides on designated JR local and limited express trains, the Hokuriku Shinkansen, and buses within the Central Region.
You can check some of their highlight spots at the Central Japan Travel Fair specially for Singaporeans!
I am putting together a day-by-day itinerary, including some of the places I have been in the past, and some that I have not and would really love to visit, together with information I hope will be useful for your planning. All of us can’t wait for Japan to open its border again. Here is a sample itinerary that can help you get the most value out of your Takayama-Hokuriku Pass:
… is maybe the title of my next book, if there’s ever another one.
Now that we have entered 2021, I have been creating content for 17 years now. I repeat this every single year, but I still don’t know how anyone manages to keep up with social media, with all that is happening.
Sourcing content and maintaining Instagram alone has kept me busy enough, for I will have to visit new destinations, take non-shitty photos so that it could be edited to a decent level, churn out captions, and at the same time be impromptu to allow a curious peek of a tiny part of my private life on Story and mix things up a little with Reels to kiss Zuck’s ass so he doesn’t kill my engagement and also force myself to conquer my fear of public speaking by going Live once in a while… Also, does anyone even use this new Guide feature?
And ALL of these, is just Instagram alone. ALL OF THESE.
This is a special post dedicated to Hamamatsu City of Shizuoka prefecture, and also the final post of my Tokai journey. This most populated city of Shizuoka prefecture may be unbeknownst to many travelers who are too eager to make a beeline for the magnificent Mt Fuji, but if you scratch the surface just a little deeper, you will find Hamamatsu itself full of allures with plenty to offer, from the niche legacy for avid musicians to fun resorts for the entire family of all ages. Think avant garde vocaloid keyboard, fresh mandarin-orange-picking, and delicious eels.
Now let’s take a look at some of the city’s many charms.
Today we are exploring the prefecture sitting right between Nagoya and Tokyo – Shizuoka.
Easily accessible from both Nagoya and Tokyo on the Shinkansen (about an hour from Tokyo, and 1.5 hour from Nagoya to arrive at Mishima Station on Hikari Shinkansen), Shizuoka is often my choice of a weekend getaway, with Izu Peninsula being my top pick for its abundance of healing onsen resorts in famous Atami, Ito and Shimoda area.
Shizuoka is also home to Mt Fuji, although its neighbour Yamanashi Prefecture shares half the privilege as the magnificent mountain straddles right between both prefectures.
So let’s take a look at what this lovely prefecture has to offer!
Izu was one of my most frequented resort destinations from Tokyo, given how easily accessible it is from the metropolitan. I hopped on a Kodama Shinkansen from Tokyo Station (or Shinagawa Station) and got down at Mishima Station. The journey was barely an hour.
Nagoya has proved itself a charming city that has won a place in my heart, as you have read in my previous article. To think that Nagoya is just one of the many allures Aichi prefecture has to offer, I truly wonder how many lives I will need to eventually see enough of Japan till I tire… (which is never).
I was ashamed how little I know of Aichi before the trip, given how this region holds some of the most significant historic events during the Warring Period in Japan, and is the birth place of the three greatest war heroes ever known in Japan – Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. People in Aichi are not shy to proudly boasts about their home prefecture, and they rightly should!
In this post, let’s look at some other parts of Aichi Prefecture, which are often underrated and completely overshadowed by the dazzles of its glamorous capital city. Hopefully by the end of this post you will be convinced that Aichi is so, so much than just Nagoya.
First, let’s get out of Nagoya! Here are some of the other regions of Aichi I have ventured, including Inuyama, Toyokawa, Gamagori, Nishio, Chita Peninsula and Tokoname.
Today, we are exploring the third largest city of Japan, Nagoya. Nagoya is so widely known worldwide that many has mistaken it as a prefecture itself, just like Tokyo and Osaka. Nagoya is but a city of Aichi Prefecture, but this charming city has so many allures in itself that I am dedicating an exclusive post to it.
We will be looking at other attractions in other regions of Aichi prefecture in a separate post later on.
First of all, if I must be completely honest, Nagoya was never on my list of sightseeing priorities given how much of urban vibe I already get in Tokyo daily. Nagoya to me, was but a station seen out of the windows of Nozomi shinkansen whizzes through from Tokyo to the west of Japan. It never occurred to me to actually spend a couple of days traversing this metropolitan region between the east and west of Japan.
My most recently visit to Nagoya however, has changed my mind completely, and once again I am convinced that there isn’t a corner in Japan that I wouldn’t adore.
I hope you enjoyed revisiting Mie prefecture virtually with me. And now, we are venturing into the deep mountains of Gifu prefecture.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are high that you’ve already heard of the hamlet known as Shirakawago located in Gifu prefecture. Outside of this now well known attraction of though, overseas visitors to Japan often don’t know much else about Gifu (or much else of Central Japan for that matter). Given that there’s a huge array of allures strewn about the prefecture, this is a real shame. From the ever-charming Hida Takayama area to the rustic hot spring town of Gero Onsen, you’re spoiled for choice in Gifu.
For those not already in the know, understand that Gifu is a prefecture that is sandwiched between the bookends of Tokyo and Kyoto. Located north of the city of Nagoya, Gifu has long been an important strategic holding for Japanese leaders. The famous Nakasendo trade route runs right through the south of the modern-day, landlocked prefecture. This highway was a vital artery that connected eastern Japan with the former capital of Kyoto. Because of this, many castle towns popped up over the centuries to watch over this crucial portion of the country.
Given its location, Gifu combines well with any trip to either Central Japan or to Kyoto. You can tack on a visit to any one of Gifu’s seven neighboring prefectures and famous attractions such as world heritage Gokayama (Toyama prefectue), Matsumoto Castle (Nagano prefecture) and more, or make a detour up from Nagoya when en route to Kyoto. Either as a day trip or as a multi-day excursion, Gifu is able to integrate itself into just about any itinerary. In the below paragraphs, I’ll introduce some of the spots that I personally enjoyed during my recent stint in Gifu.
I didn’t expect to be back to Mie and writing about Mie again so soon! (To think that my very post below is exactly Mie… either the prefecture loves me too much or I am obsessed with it, or both, at this rate I’d like to think it’s deep mutual affection.)
Although many of the destinations I feature in this post are repeated attractions I have visited several times in Mie prefecture before, it is always a pleasure to be back again, meeting the same people at a different time, feeling a different vibe in a different season, experiencing a brand new journey altogether. It’s something I don’t mind doing over and over again.
Here’s a complete itinerary for your future reference, focusing on Mie Prefecture as a whole, based on a 3-day itinerary.
Mie Prefecture’s tagline is “Once in your lifetime“. I thought one’s experience with Mie couldn’t be more aptly described and summarized in that one very line.
As you already know, Ise Jingu is Japan’s most sacred shrine since ancient time and it was every Japanese’s wish to make a pilgrimage to at least once in their life time. Before I visited Mie Prefecture, all I knew about Mie was Ise Jingu and Matsusaka beef. In fact that was exactly what I went for the first time I stepped foot on this beautiful land tucked in between Osaka and Nagoya. And the first time left me hooked forever. These two attractions alone are enough to justify a once-in-your-lifetime visit to Mie.
Last summer 2019, I embarked on a 4-day journey to explore just Mie Prefecture alone, and trust me, there’s so much to do you will wish you have more time!
Read my past entries on Mie Prefecture here.
This time around, let me bring you back to the amazing Ise-Shima region of Mie to experience a slower, more relaxing healing journey through untouched nature, which is what many of us long for the most in this challenging time.
This was the day I ate more fish than I ever did in my entire life.
So… the first time I went finishing was in Nagasaki last year. Junya, although being really thoughtful for the fishes’ feelings, really enjoyed it. He wanted to do it again so we went for a little weekend trip at Atami, Shizuoka prefecture, which we thought was a perfect getaway – sunshine, beaches, sea and onsen. And lots of fish.
If you haven’t already known, Atami is probably one of the most popular vacation spots for Tokyoites to escape the city a little, being in close proximity to the metropolis and boasting lots of hot spring resorts close by the beach.