Postcards from Japan – part two

Hello, not so small daughter here again!  Thanks for coming back to read more about my trip to Japan.  If you missed it, you can read yesterday’s Postcards from Japan post here.


Our next morning we were up early again to get another bullet train as we were going to Hiroshima. We wore our uniforms out of respect and arrived in Hiroshima to meet our tour guide. Our tour guide was so lovely, and our first stop was a little island called Miyajima! It was a short 10-minute ferry ride to get there on which we saw them preparing for a festival near the Miyajima Itsukushima Shrine, a large Torii gate which looks like it’s floating on the water.

A shrine gate on a lake. The gate looks like it is floating on the water

Miyajima is a very small island in Hiroshima Bay, that is mostly walkable and only has a small number of places like a primary school, a small police station and a clinic, but they’re most known for their Sika deer, who have lived there for centuries. They just wander around! They also are not afraid to munch on anything you have, whether they try and take your food or just nibble on your bag!

People surrounded by deer

After exploring the small, wonderful island, we got the ferry back to Hiroshima and had some lunch. We had Okonomiyaki, a meal traditionally from Hiroshima, which is a sort of pancake with layers of different things such as meat or cabbage, and oh my goodness, it was lovely – I could’ve eaten a lot of them.

We then got the tram towards Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial. We visited the Atomic Bomb dome before going to the Peace Memorial Museum. Some sections were quite graphic and difficult to look at, the small stories alongside them explaining them evoking even more emotion. There were lots of parts of the museum, from videos from survivors to pieces of clothing, or tricycles and diaries. I don’t think that learning about the war in history or nuclear weapons in RE (Religious Education classes) can really ever express the emotion that you feel seeing a girl close to my age’s diary speaking about how she was planning to make her father soup that day or someone’s family speaking about how their loved one was supposed to be elsewhere that day. Our museum tour ended with a large window that showed the Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome behind it.

The shell of Hiroshama bomb dome framed by trees and grass against a blue sky

It was an emotional experience, and I was glad to have girls with me who we were happy to hold each other’s hand all the way through. We then left the museum and visited the Children’s Peace Monument to place our paper cranes as hundreds of people do to honour the legacy of Sadako Sasaki and her story with 1,000 paper cranes. We then travelled back on a bus and a tram and the bullet train back to our hotel.

We spent the next day back in Kyoto visiting a few shrines.

A golden temple in the distance across a green lakeWe started off at Kinkaku-ji or the ‘Golden Pavillion’, where my friends and I enjoyed the beauty of the gardens but also got a bit overexcited by the ice cream vending machines where we discovered the wonderful ice cream that is Coolish. It was ice cream in a squeezy tube packet, and it was wonderful. We then visited a larger temple that had windchimes and a huge torii gate outside. However, just when we thought we had seen many torii gates, we visited Fushimi-Inari, a shrine that has 10,000 of the estimated 30,000 torii gates in Japan and they tunnel up a hill to a shrine to the rice god.

A path leading up through a tunnel of red shrine gates

We chose not to do the full walk as we didn’t have time for the 3-hour hike, but I think it might have also partially been due to the girl with a rice allergy on our trip feeling a bit hesitant going to see the rice god’s temple, which I think is perfectly understandable. It was incredible seeing all the gates, they created this large tunnel that went off in many directions where there were slightly smaller shrines and large, older gates.

We spent our evening from then on taking an accidentally much longer than expected hike up to find a nearby Studio Ghibli shop. But I had the absolute best time once we got there.

A shop selling merchandise from Studio Ghibli films

After being shimmied along by leaders and spending a prefer-not-to-say amount of money in the shop, we headed back towards our hotel, making a stop at the Pokémon centre on our way back. I was much less excited about this, but it was a lot of other people’s Ghibli equivalent, and they had a lovely time.

The following day we continued to make good use of our JR Passes and get back on the bullet train to visit Osaka, which was incredible. We explored the amazing buildings that had crabs or octopi statues peering over them and a few of my friends and I found a sushi restaurant for our lunch called Kura Sushi and it was so good. The sushi just went around on a revolving thing that you could just grab things off and then if you ordered something specific it was whizzed to you on a sushi expressway! We then went to Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, the world’s largest aquarium, and we all got a bit over excited about the stamps from each section. After that we went on the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel and got a great view to fireworks display that we assume was from Universal Studios Japan. We then went back to spend our final night in our Kyoto hotel.

An early start hit us once again as we bullet trained all the way back to Tokyo to spend our final 2 nights in a capsule hotel! It is just as crazy as you expect it to be. Everything was very communal, there was a locker room where all our suitcases went in lockers and the showers and mirrors were all down there, and then you were given a little bag of pyjamas, slippers, toothbrush and toothpaste etc and then you just took yourself up to your capsule where your door was simply a blind you pulled down. To be fair, I slept wonderfully.

We then spent that afternoon exploring Shibuya Crossing, which is also just as crazy and stressful as you expect it to be.

A crowd of people on a road crossing in a busy city. The crossing is surrounded by tall buildings with advertising screens on them

The shops were also strangely difficult to navigate, I’m still unsure as to whether there was one really big Ikea with lots of entrances or lots of little IKEAs, whatever it was their soft serve ice-cream was plant based and ramune flavoured, so was rather peculiar.

Then we ventured to Tokyo Tower and admired the nighttime Tokyo skyline all lit up and it was beautiful.

The Tokyo Tower against the night sky. It is lit up in red and white lights

Our final full day in Japan began, once again, with a very early start, as we went on a Japan Panoramic tour to visit Mount Fuji! It was brilliant, we had the loveliest tour guide who was just so happy to be there and later found us somewhere to have our last proper meal after the tour! We went up to the highest part vehicles can go up to on Mount Fuji and enjoyed rain for the first time in 11 days. I don’t think I was aware how rare it is to actually see Fuji, as even in clear weather, the humidity makes it too hazy.

Mount Fuji through the clouds

Once we came down from station 5, we went to a Ninja house and had a great buffet and got to see Mount Fuji (so briefly) out of the window! We then travelled further down to Hakone, at the bottom of Fuji, where a large lake was created from a volcanic eruption.

Wooded hillside next to a lake

We went up to this volcano on the Hakone ropeway (cable cars) where we ate black eggs that are said to extend your life by 7 years when you eat it, however I shared mine so I’m not sure if I only get an extra 3.5 years now. But then we went back down and went on a ferry over the lake where we saw more floating torii gates! We then ended our tour with a visit to another, quieter collection of shrines and then made our way back to Shibuya, Tokyo. Our lovely tour guide took us to a traditional Kyoto style restaurant for our last meal and we ate an absurd amount of shrimp tempura (and enjoyed every second of it) along with some amazing desserts before heading back for our final night in our capsule hotel.

Our flight home from Tokyo was at 10pm, so we didn’t have that long in the daytime before having to collect our suitcases and make the journey back to the airport. So, we spent our day in Tokyo Joypolis, an indoor amusement park! It was amazing and I definitely went on rides I probably wouldn’t have at home, but they were fun in the end, even though I was upside down much more than I would’ve personally liked to have been, but it was a really great time.

Then it was time to make our way to the airport, and after getting split suitcases wrapped and navigating where our gate actually was, we made it on the amazing double-decker Emirates flight back to Dubai. A 3-hour layover in Dubai this time and I was home to my amazing family again by noon.

It was the most incredible experience, and I would definitely do it again many more times. I am so grateful to the people who helped get me there in the first place as I have made memories I’m going to hold on to for the rest of my life.

Thank you so much and until my next travels,

Not-so-small daughter 🙂



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22 Responses

  1. Jacqueline Jacques says:

    Thank you so much. I really enjoyed your blogs. Dare I say that you have your mother’s gift for telling a story. Brilliant!

  2. Ursula Nias says:

    I really enjoyed reading about Japan and your trip. Thank you 😊

  3. Japan looks an amazing place .pleases you got the chance to go .only one word for your pictures Magnificent

  4. Ann Collins says:

    Wow, my head is spinning after reading both of your post. Your trip was incredible and one you will never forget. When I was 15 years old back in 1959, I went on a Girl Scout Senior Roundup to Colorado, in the US. It was an international event with 9,000 girls camping on a ranch. I have never forgotten any of it. Thank you for taking the time to write this post and share your experience with us all.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with all of us.

  6. Debra Cole says:

    How amazing does your trip sound. So lovely to hear your enthusiasm all the way through it.

  7. Caz Abbinet says:

    Lovely to read about your fantastic trip and see all your photos.
    Sounds like you had a wonderful time 🥰

  8. Corinne says:

    Wow, another day of amazing adventures! Thank you for sharing your trip with us, because I’m sure I’m not the only one reading, who will never get the chance to go there. I’ve loved looking at your photos. They show how varied and interesting Japan is, and a totally different culture. It looks so beautiful…. I’m certain you’ll never forget it!

  9. Pat Bridger says:

    Thank you so much for this ‘diary’, it has made me want to see it for myself. It was a wonderful experience for you, and I’m so very pleased you enjoyed it so much.

  10. Gillian Edwards says:

    Wonderful memories for you to cherish. Thankyou for sharing x

    • Elizabeth Martin says:

      Thanks so much for your full and interesting account, Nssd! It’s lovely to hear about Japan from a very fresh perspective. I haven’t made my Don’t be Koi socks yet, but when I do, I will be thinking of your trip with pleasure.

  11. Lin says:

    What a wonderful time you had. Thanks for sharing and also your lovely photographs. xx

  12. Jacqui says:

    The second installment was every bit as thrilling as the first. You packed so much into your trip. Thank you very much for sharing it with us. I have a feeling it won’t be the last time you visit Japan 😁

  13. Frances says:

    wow, thanks for sharing your experiences.

  14. elizabeth says:

    Looks like I lost my comment.

    What a wonderful experience so ably captured in your journal with fantastic photographs to emphasis your written word. You have made memories that will stay with you forever, perhaps to be added to should you visit Japan again. You had me captured to the end. Well done.

  15. Ellen says:

    Thank you so much not-so-small-daughter for sharing your photos and tales of your travels. You’ve inspired me to add Japan to my list of places to visit. So glad you had a great time with your friends and hope it has inspired you to travel lots more in the future xx Thanks again .

  16. Karen says:

    What a wonderful opportunity for you!! I have truly enjoyed your posts and pictures! As others have stated, these memories will give you great pleasure the rest of your life!! I was fortunate to take a 2 week trip to Europe in 1970, when I was 18. Those crystal clear memories still bring a huge grin to my face.

  17. Sally says:

    Thanks so much for sharing the details of your trip, the food, the capsule hotel and especially the photo of the mini pig cafe! Loved reading all about it.

  18. Annette says:

    I so enjoyed reading that, sounds like you had a amazing time, thank you

  19. Alison Lambert says:

    Thanks for sharing, it sounds an amazing trip. As a guider/scouter, knowing you’ve had such an experience reminds me of the reason we do it. Your enthusiasm and enjoyment and the chance you’ve had to do something new and exciting is making me smile as I sit here.

  20. Kathryn says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your Postcards from Japan. I especially enjoyed it as I’m planning to visit with my own not-so-small daughter after she finishes her A levels next year. You have given me some ideas for places to go.

  21. SARAH MURRAY says:

    What a trip! Thanks for sharing it with us and your lovely photos. I bet you’ll never forget this trip, its a holiday of a lifetime 🙂
    Sarah x

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