Visiting Kyoto temples

No one really knows how many temples are exactly in Kyoto, but most estimates lie between 1600 and 2000. Even a very strict sample of the biggest and the most famous counts a few dozen, so it is quite difficult (and pointless) to try visiting all of them within one trip.

So here’s my list. Each temple here has its own specialty which differs it from the others. I ranked them by my subjective impressions after visit =)

One week Tokyo itinerary for (almost) sakura season

Planning the trip to Japan, I quite often felt like going mad from the amounts of information to process and organize. The only reason I’m still sane and writing this post is japan-guide.com which is my example of the perfect travel guide (I wish there was the same for all other countries…).

So here they are, the results of my research. Note that this itinerary was highly affected by the season – we usually try to travel during Swiss public holidays which meant that this year we arrived to Tokyo just a tiny bit out of the cherry blossom full bloom. You will most probably want to adjust this plan if you travel at a different time.

Three reasons to visit the coastal city of Kamakura

Kamakura is a small, rural town. It is not crazy touristic which is surprising considering the quality and diversity of its attractions coupled with easy access from Tokyo: a direct JR train connects the Tokyo station to Kamakura with just an hour of train ride.

Let’s see what this town is capable of and why you might want to go there.

First time in Japan: Mount Takao

Looking back at my experience with New York, this time I decided that four days in a big city is all I can take and that I would definitely need a nature retreat after that.

A quick search revealed that there is a cool mountain called Takao just an hour by train from Tokyo center, with a number of hiking trails up to the summit and cherry trees that bloom later than in Tokyo thanks to the altitude.

First time in Japan: a city of the future?

This post is sponsored by the disgusting and nasty weather of Tokyo which was the reason we had to skip one of the city’s parks and set ourselves to the artificial island of Odaiba because there we could stay indoors most of the time.

The island was created in the 19th century for defense purposes but had barely been in use until 90s when the government suddenly decided to turn it into the new touristic and cultural center. Thanks to the engineering driven city design the district looks quite futuristic, or at least matches what they thought about the future in 90s.

First time in Japan: old and new Tokyo

Traditions and history dive-ins are not really Tokyo things, and it is better known for the chaos of a huge city, neon lights, and crazy youth culture. Those seeking old characteristic Japanese architecture should set their way to ancient Kyoto or at least pay its little sister Kamakura a short visit from the capital.

Nevertheless, even though Tokyo does not have that many and that diverse temples as Kyoto does, you can still get in touch with its ancient culture right in the center of the city, just next to the most bizarre districts and entertainments Tokyo has to offer.

Today we will try to maximize the diversity of impressions that you can get in Tokyo in a single day. This program implies a lot of walking, but you can shorten some distances by taking subway.

Firts time in Japan: planning tips

My first trip to Japan during which I visited Tokyo, Kyoto, and Lake Kawaguchi area definitely tops my yet small travel list by the diversity of experiences. I will talk about that in future posts, and this one is dedicated to planning and preparation for the trip =) It has relatively few pictures and lots of text so bear with me.

So… going to Japan, do not forget to:

Rigi Kulm: a simple panoramic hike close to Zurich

To be honest, I was not a great fan of this trail: the place is not wild enough for me (in fact, not wild at all). On the other hand, this hike might be a nice option for people that stay in Zurich and want to get a glimpse on the main Swiss stereotypes (mountains, lakes, cows, you know). The trail is super easy – no need to climb, and only very little altitude change. Most of the path is even accessible for wheelchairs!

TL;DR

What: a hike next to Lucerne: Rigi Kulm to Rigi Scheidegg cable car station.
Why: great view on three lakes and on the Alps, clean Swiss air (with a scent of cows :D).
How long: 2-3 hours (the hike itself) + 3.5 hours (commute from Zurich and back).
How to get here: train, cable car.
Difficulty: minimal.
Ascent: 243 m.
Descent: 369 m.
How much it costs: ~65 CHF by public transport from Zurich.