Sendai, the capital of Miyagi prefecture, is known for being a green city with lots of vegetation. For example, the city center has a long covered shopping arcade that is lined with small trees. The staple dish in Sendai is the gyutan (beef tongue). The grilled thin slices of gyutan are typically flavored with salt or sauce and the dish is well accompanied with a glass of cold Japanese beer.
The Osanbashi Pier is the main international passenger cruise ship terminal of Yokohama. The design of the pier is modern and integrates organic elements like grass and wooden planks. Its structure is reminiscent of waves in the water. The top of the pier is a public space which offers an unbeatable view of Yokohama and the Minatomirai skyline. It is in my opinion the best place to take breathtaking photos of Yokohama during daytime, nighttime and the amazing sunsets in between. You can bring some snacks and your favorite drinks for a picnic with an unbeatable scenery.
Mount Tsurumi, an ancient volcano, is an unmistakable geological landmark of the region of Beppu. The summit of the mountain is accessible by the Kintetsu Beppu Ropeway. Many small shrines are located around the summit but the main attraction is, without any doubt, the amazing view of the bay of Beppu.
Other than being famous as a Onsen town, Beppu is also a port that can accommodate cruise and cargo ships. The Shoningahama Park, easily accessible by the Beppudaigaku station, is located next to the Bay of Beppu. The park offers a nice view of the city of the bay and the city of Beppu surrounded by mountains. The Beppu Beach Sand Bath is also located at the Shoningahama park. There, customers are buried warm sand for a relaxing experience.
The Shibaseki District is one of the two sites where the Hells of Beppu are located, the other being the Kannawa District. Two Hells are located in this district. The nicest, in my opinion, is Chinoike Jigoku “blood pond hell”. It is tought by some to be the most photogenic of all Hells. The other one, Tatsumaki Jigoku, is a geyser that erupts at a regular time interval (twice per hour).
Beppu is renowned as one of the best hot spring towns of all Japan. Thanks to the region’s volcanic activity, plenty of hot water heated deep in the Earth’s crust flows to the sufrace and supplies the many Onsen resorts of the city.
The hells of Beppu (jigoku) are found in two districts, the Shibaseki district and Kannawa district, which is shown here. They are tourist attractions featuring hot springs. While some of them are quite impressive, their quality is not equal and one may wish to choose to visit only some of the most spectacular.
In my opinion, the Kannawa district has the nicest hells and is much easier to access compared to the Shibaseki district. My top picks are without hesitation the Umi Jigoku (sea hell) and Oniishibozu Jigoku which are located to the West of Kannawa District. In addition to the hot springs, the two hells boast beautiful gardens.
The city of Beppu is known as one of the best hot spring cities of Japan. As part of the cultural heritage of the hot spring culture, cooking in the steam coming out of the springs is still practiced nowadays. Visitors may try hot spring cooking at the Jigokumushi Kobo Steam Cooking Center in the vicinity of the hot springs of the Kannawa hot spring district.
Various vegetables including potatoes, corn and mushroom, meats and a variety of seafood can be purchased on site. A volunteer instructor will supervise you throughout the cooking process and make sure that each ingredient is cooked the right amount of time. The center has an indoor eating area and a terrace for its visitors.
Several places in Tokyo offer nice panoramic views of the city like Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Roppongi Hills, etc. But there’s no need to line up into those buildings to enjoy a nice scenery of Tokyo. The north-western coast of Odaiba island offers a fantastic viewpoint on the bay of Tokyo as well as the iconic rainbow bridge.
Some of those photos were taken simply from the park along the coast, most of the night panorama of the bay and rainbow bridge was taken from the terrace at one of the many restaurants in the Aqua City shopping mall. Some of those are affordable and the view of the sun setting over Tokyo is priceless!
Are you tired of Tokyo’s scorching summer heat or simply want to escape the crowd? Nagano Prefecture is located only a short shinkansen ride north of Tokyo and has a lot to offer. Onsen, georgous mountains and monkeys are only few of the landmarks of this area of Japan. Here’s some of GaijinGoJapan’s recommendations:
JIGOKUDANI The japanese snow monkeys are probably one of the most emblematic figures of Nagano prefecture. Located at Yudanaka onsen, the snow macaque enjoy the volcanic hot springs of Nagano’s mountain range. They bath all day, only waiting for you to visit them!
ZENKO-JI Nagano city is not particularly recognized for being a town with historical landmarks, but Zenko-ji temple will surprise you. The Dalai Lama visited Zenko-ji, so why not you?
LAKE NOJIRI AREA Lake Nojiri is a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. It is especially popular among Germans who apparently have a small community of cottages along the lakes’s shore. I think lake Nojiri area has a lot to offer to non-Germans as well, anybody can enjoy gorgeous scenery, right?
NOZAWA ONSEN Nozawa Onsen receives lots of snow in winter, and happens to have lots of volcanic activity too. This makes Nozawa a ski and “onsen” Mecca of Nagano prefecture. Dozens of those hot baths are located around the city and the best: they are available for free.
WASABI FARM You like this Japanese mustard that burns its way straight to your nose? Ever wondered where is comes from? Wasabi is actually a root that is cultivated in a well-irrigated bedrock. Come see how its done and taste it at wasabi farm.
MATSUMOTO CASTLE Matsumoto Castle is one of the rare preserved castles in Japan. By preserved, I mean that the structure is the same as when it was built: no fancy elevator will bring you to the top. Instead, one must climb its way up using the original steep wooden stairs. A lot of fun!
TATEYAMA MOUNTAIN AND KUROBE DAMM This one is technically not in Nagano prefecture, but the journey starts there so it might count as well! The Kanden Tunnel Trolley bus takes you from Nagano prefecture to the Kurobe Damm and mount Tateyama in Toyama prefecture. Lots of breathtaking mountain scenery on the program!
Japanese stamp books are a fun way to visit Japanese historic sites and provide lasting memories of your adventures. Mine comes from Zenko-ji temple in Nagano prefecture. This temple is very famous around Nagano and was even visited by the Dalai Lama. Since 2012, I have accumulated several stamps of temple and shrines I have visited. Each stamp indicates the date of visit and the kanji’s of the shrine. If you get yourself a stamp book, I strongly suggest you always keep it with you Continue reading Japanese Temple & Shrine Stamp book (Go-Shuin-Cho, 御朱印帳)