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Revisiting Japan: Augusta's top 20 highlights

Revisiting Japan: Augusta's top 20 highlights

After moving back home to England after studying in Tokyo for a year, I was longing to go back to immerse myself in Japan’s incredible culture, scenery and food. I’d missed the fantastically smooth order in which everything runs and the generous people that make everyday interactions a pleasure… I was especially excited to be returning in autumn, for the renowned multi-coloured leaves that set the country alight with their vivid hues!

On this research trip, I managed to re-visit some of my favourite places – the scenic Hakone, the cultural capital of Kyoto, the unique art island of Naoshima and the phoenix city of Hiroshima – but what thrilled me most was discovering the more offbeat locations I hadn’t had a chance to visit before.

There were many memorable moments – seeing the snow monkeys in Yudanaka, feeling as though I’d gone back in time in the traditional Bikan canal area of Kurashiki and walking the historic streets of Takayama – but the most striking experiences for me were visiting Miyajima and Nikko. Miyajima’s floating torii gate is rightfully recognised as a UNESCO landmark, and is well worth the short ferry ride across from Hiroshima, as it is extraordinary, especially during sunset.

Nikko makes for an ideal day trip from Tokyo – I couldn’t believe that I’d missed it before! As soon as I stepped out of the station to be greeted by a mountain view, I was bowled over by the completely unspoiled nature. Such untouched surroundings add to the beauty of the historic temples that lie scattered around this small city, and Lake Chuzenji is particularly pretty, with its remarkably still, shimmering water. Up here in the alpine air, the impressive Kegon waterfall is a short walk away and Futarasan shrine is a real highlight – I was lucky enough to visit just as the monks were paying their respects by performing a morning bowing ritual.

Returning to Japan exceeded my expectations; I am constantly surprised by this unique and enigmatic island nation, which is why it captures my spirit and keeps me wanting to go back for more. Read on for my top 40 highlights…

TOKYO

1. Waking up to Tokyo’s endless and impressive skyline



2. Exploring ‘Yakitori’ alley under the train tracks in the fashionable district of Ginza


3Browsing through the hidden and ancient gems in Oedo Antique Market


4Witnessing a Shinto wedding procession at Meiji shrine



HIROSHIMA

5Flying over Mount Fuji for a breathtaking bird’s eye view



6. Miyajima’s floating torii gate, just across from Hiroshima, standing in all its glory




KURASHIKI

7. Gliding down the picturesque Bikan canal, just outside an Ampersand favourite: Ryokan Kurashiki



NAOSHIMA

8. Yayoi Kusama’s iconic Pumpkin at sunrise on Naoshima Island




KYOTO

9. Admiring the iconic Daigo-ji Temple, an important temple of Japanese Buddhism, and a designated world heritage site



10Glimpsing geisha flitting down the atmospheric alley of Ponto-cho



11Exploring the bustling and lively Nishiki Market, also known as 'Kyoto's Kitchen' specialising in all things food



12. The Ritz-Carlton's rooms have some of the most incredible views in town



13Enjoying a cup of matcha tea in the beautiful Okochi Sanso Garden tea house



KANAZAWA

14Travelling back in time to Nagamachi, a former samurai district located at the foot of Kanazawa Castle



TAKAYAMA

15. With Mrs Tanabe, owner of the wonderfully traditional ryokan, Tanabe Ryokan



HAKONE

16. Braving pufferfish (‘fugu’) at Gora Kadan


17. One of Gora Kadan’s many beautifully crafted private bathtubs with a scenic view



18. Pablo Picasso at Hakone Open-Air Museum



YUDANAKA

19. A beautifully snow covered shrine on the way to see the snow monkeys



NIKKO

20. Monks performing their morning bowing ritual at Futarasan Shrine


For more information or to start planning your tailor-made holiday to Japan please contact us:

info@ampersandtravel.com // +44 (0) 207 819 9770



Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
Ampersand’s details preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet/direct booking age. Shalmali was a delight to work with – before and during our trip.
- Mr David Wallace, North India

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