Early on in our dating Nick expressed how he had always wanted to visit Japan—I had been once before, but only to Tokyo—so as our love story progressed and talk turned to marriage we decided we wanted to spend our honeymoon in Japan.
We knew we wanted an extended trip of around 3 weeks and quickly hit up travel books to create our “must do” list that included various parts of the country. When we reached out to Audley and were connected with Jessica K., we chatted on the phone, exchanged emails, and gave her our list. Jessica went to work and created this amazing itinerary that would have us in Tokyo, Miyajima Island, Naoshima Island, Kyoto, Osaka, and back to Tokyo to wrap it all up!
We hit the ground running those first few days in Japan. We were lucky to arrive just in time for Cherry Blossom season and on our first night in Tokyo we headed to Ueno Park for the Ueno Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival). Everyone was out for Hanami and the spirit in the park was vibrant as we strolled around enjoying the cherry blossoms and the various temples and shrines located within the park. A must for us was the Ghibli Museum and Jessica made sure to secure our tickets for our first full day in Japan. What an inspirational space to explore! We are huge fans of Studio Ghibli’s work and being creative professionals ourselves we were both in awe with how the museum was constructed, capturing not only the imagination and spirit of their work, but also giving a glimpse of another’s artists work space.
After spending 5 days in Tokyo we jetted across the country utilizing the bullet train. Jessica had warned us that first trip would be long, but comfortable and comfortable it was! I truly enjoyed the train ride and watching the country go by. Our stay in Miyajima Island had us at the Kawaguchi Minshuku Ryokan, a family run traditional Japanese inn that was simple and perfect. The Inn is just a block away from the main shopping area, but perfectly tucked away to feel like you have traveled to another time. Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed our time here with each night experiencing the most amazing kaiseki meal, exploring the surrounding quiet streets at night after dinner, and of course making our way through the Island to visit Mount Misen, Itsukushima Shrine, and the great Tori.
We were lucky enough to spend three days on Naoshima Island at the Benesse House Park hotel, which was such a contrast from Miyajima’s old and traditional setting, but just as amazing and relaxing. If you are a contemporary art lover you must make your way to this island! The absolute highlight here was making our way through the Art House Project, seven empty houses handed over to artists who then turned the houses into works of art. Because the houses are scattered through a residential district of Naoshima you get to experience both amazing pieces of art and the day-to-day life of Naoshima. We loved our time and the chance to just explore the island and its art so much that Nick and I made a pact that we would return to Naoshima in a few years time.
Kyoto was a must for me, but Nick was a little indifferent—his attitude of course changed by the end of our stay in this great vibrant city. Our hotel was located in Kawaramachi District, Kyoto main shopping district, and there was so much to do by just stepping out the door. Each day we would head off in the morning visiting various districts and sites then return for a quick rest before heading off into a new direction within (shopping district) to explore. A major highlight for me was visiting Arashiyima. We went to see the Bamboo Groves, but there’s so much to enjoy in this gorgeous area of Kyoto. Tucked inside the Bamboo Grove was Okochi Sanso Villa, a villa that once belonged to the popular Japanese actor Okochi Denjiro, who spent 30 years creating a series of gardens within the estate. After exploring the property each guest is welcomed to the tea house to enjoy a cup of green tea and cookie. The villa is stunning and absolutely worth the admission in order to enjoy the serene surrounding with out the crowds.
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