After 23 days in Japan, driving over 2,700km by car, and travelling 1,420km by shinkansen we had visited 9 prefectures.
I have written about each day we were in Japan here, so if you want to get the whole story you can!
I thought it would be good to write about my favourite spot in each prefecture to reminisce, and also for some imaginary travelling while we are all stuck in our homes.
We only popped into Akita briefly on our fourth day in Japan in order to get a stunning view across Lake Towada. I would love to go back and explore Akita more, especially in winter!
Aomori is a wonderful prefecture, very rural, with amazing mountains, lakes, waterfalls and apples! After driving over 240km around Aomori my favourite spot has to be Oirase gorge! The scenery was absolutely stunning, with numerous waterfalls along the 14km gorge. The autumn colour made it even more stunning.
Iwate had so much to offer, and the places we visited were very diverse, from the tsunami ravaged Rikuzentakata, to the picturesque Jodogahama beach and Geibikei gorge. My favourite memory of travelling through Iwate was of the Goishi coast, ragged and stunningly beautiful. We drove up the coastline and were able to visit areas that were devastated by the tsunami and ares where the views had stood for millennia.
Miyagi prefecture was our first stop on our tour of Tohoku, we travelled there by shinkansen the same day we landed. We visited two main tourist spots in Miyagi, Zuihoden temple and Matsushima bay. We were unlucky with the weather, having landed during the tail end of a typhoon, which meant our visit to Matsushima was a little rough and choppy. Even though we visited Zuihoden mid typhoon, the quiet temples surrounded by cedar were magical, perhaps more so thanks to the unending rain.
We only had time for a short day trip into neighbouring Yamagata prefecture, and we headed straight for the Yamadera temple complex. Once we passed under the mountain ridge separating Miyagi from Yamagata, the skies cleared and the effect of the typhoon disappeared. Yamadera was just as beautiful as I imagined, and visiting early meant we enjoyed the views in the quiet morning air.
In our tour of Tohoku we spent the most time in Fukushima prefecture. There was a lot to see and do, from hiking around emerald ponds, exploring castles, to visiting the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In Fukushima alone we drove 999km! Out of everything we experienced what has stayed with me most was visiting the towns of Tomioka and Namie, just 20km away from the nuclear power plant. It was errie, upsetting, and beautiful, beautiful to see the areas recovering after such disaster. If you have a chance to visit the area, to support the people living there, I’d encourage you to do so.
I wanted to visit Ibaraki for one reason, to see Oarai Isosaki Shrine in Mito, the increasingly famous torii gate standing in the sea. I didn’t just want to see it though, I wanted to watch the sun rise from that beautiful spot! Ibaraki is easily accessed from Tokyo, a perfect day trip!
If you’ve been to Japan before, you have probably visited Tokyo. There is so much in Tokyo you can spend years there and never visit it all. As it was my 5th visit to Tokyo I wanted to visit some places I hadn’t gone before, like Gotokuji temple and Nezu shrine. If I had to revisit one place in Tokyo that I did on this trip, it would definitely be T’s Gluten Free Kitchen restaurant, for some more vegan and gluten free Japanese food! My favourite spot from this trip was finally seeing Tokyo Tower from on high. During the day Tokyo is shades of grey, but at night it sparkles!
I can never get enough of the beauty of Yamanashi prefecture, even on my fifth visit to the area. The biggest draw is of course, the stunning Mount Fuji! This time round I wanted to see Mount Fuji from different angles, and so summited six peaks around the area to get some unique views. My favourite was the view from Mount Mitsutoge, which gave a beautiful panorama of the region. I would definitely hike up again!
As Mount Fuji is my favourite, I have a second favourite spot from this trip, Tanka Chaya, a tea house on the main road going out of Kawaguchiko. The view here was stunning, and no hiking required!
You can see from this list that my favourite thing about Japan is it’s natural beauty. Lakes, mountains, rivers, waterfalls and coastlines, Japan is absolutely stunning!
If you have a favourite spot in Japan, what is yours?