What can I give my fiance for his birthday? A trip to Japan, why not? This is what our Valentina Ferragni gave her partner Luca. Their trip was about 10 days long, and their experiences and images they shared on their social media channels had a real impact on us. This is why we decided to write a small guide for you, asking them what towns are not to be missed in Japan, and what experiences are a must. Get ready, Japan has never been this close… Sayōnara!
One thing was already clear before leaving. Starting from Tokyo would be essential to structure our trip in the best way. But, since it’s such a large megacity, where should we start our exploration? Start from Harajuku, the district where you can find the impossible. It’s pretty clear on the main street already, in the shops that sell anything, from peculiar clothing to unusual gadgets. Don’t miss their pink cotton candy, which will grab a lot of likes on your social media: you can enjoy it in the nearby park in Shinjuku, where you will find some of the most peculiar flowers in town. Pencil in an excursion to Mount Fuji, and cross your fingers for clear skies, since Vale and Luca were welcomed by hazy weather. If you want to have fun, go to Shibuya and check out Tokyo’s youth tribes. This is also where you will find the statue of Hachiko, the famous dog whose story was also portrayed in a famous movie. Wait for the sun to go down and go for an aperitif at Park Hyatt, which will treat you to amazing drinks, and a magnificent view that will take your breath away.
This town is very small, but beautiful and peculiar: Vale and Luca told us it has a special spot in their heart. Not only is it a lively historic town with beautiful, small boutiques full of character, what you should try here is a ryōkan. If you don’t know what a ryōkan is, it is the name of the traditional Japanese guesthouses, that can be as old as 400 years old: they are usually hosted in buildings made entirely of wood, where you will have your meals sitting on the floor, and sleep on futons that will be prepared after dinner, placing thin mattresses, blankets and pillows on the tatami floor, in a room bordered by sliding doors. This is what local Japanese life feels like!
Just south of Kyoto is this town, so important for culture and finance, and a former Japanese capital, centuries ago. In addition to all the cultural attractions, Todaiji, one of the most important temples in the country, is also located here. This temple is important to religious Japanese people as well as for tourists, for whom it is a good place to observe Japanese religious life from up close, a very moving, unique experience. Inside Todaiji, you will find one of the largest Buddha statures in the world. Not too far from the temple you can visit Nara Park, where you will be able to snap a picture with the sweet, famous deer that populate it.
As for Tokyo, it is a bit complicated to make a list of things to see, because Kyoto is also really large. A temple or rose-scented gardens are found on almost every corner, but there are some things you shouldn’t miss. Kinkaku, also known as the Golden Pavillion, is one of the most famous temples in Japan, and it is located on a small pond. Nijo-jo castle, the UNESCO-listed former imperial residence, and the magical Tenryū-ji, a temple commissioned by an emperor, surrounded by a large garden, are also must-sees. The rest can just be discovered by wandering around, getting lost in the alleys!
Welcome to an enchanted place. Shirakawago is not a city but a typical Japanese village which seems to have been untouched by time. To be honest, there are no sights here, or anything specific you should see: what makes this place unique is the way it looks, with its slanted, thatched-roofs. Climb up the nearby mountain for a view of these peculiarly shaped roofs, it will feel like being in a Japanese animation movie, and a fantastic way to finish your trip, discovering Japan.