Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A BLISSFUL ESCAPE | HAKONE | JAPAN

As part of our adventure in Japan, we took some time to Tokyo’s favourite escape, Hakone. It is a land known for Onsen, which is a natural hot spring.  We were there purely to soak in the lakes, mountain scenery and of course, to see and admire the spectacular Mount Fuji.  It was a 3 hour journey from Shinjuku to Hakone but worth all the effort and time.

We stopped by the food market to pick up some snacks and also made our way to Odawara. As Odawara is the gateway to the hot springs of Hakone with trains and buses running to various parts of the area, it was no wonder we took a slight detour to visit Odawara Castle before making our way over.  Albeit brief at the castle, we managed to capture the lovely cherry blossom trees along the river.

Sadly, the clouds were pretty prominent on the day of our Hakone visit, so we were not able to have a clear view of Mt Fuji itself, however, we were still taken by surprise by the picturesque lake views of Lake Ashinoko and its beautiful surroundings.  The Lake was very calming and the water reflects the natural line of the mountains and on a clear day, you can see Mt Fuji reflecting off the water.

Next time we are in Japan (which will hopefully be towards the end of this year), we will take a few days to appreciate the solitude of Hakone. Even plan a hike, take a dip in a private hot spring, and sample Hakone’s off-beat gems.  Like most things in Japan, (and everywhere else in the world, may I add) the beauty is in the details. You just have to know where to look for it. JPN

And to finish off the day, some of the finest and 
freshest seafood, sushi and sashimi 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

NINE HOURS HOTEL REVIEW | CAPSULE LIVING | KYOTO | JAPAN

During our stay in Kyoto last April, we booked a 4 night stay in a capsule hotel. We had been looking forward to this stay more than ever due to the brilliant design concept of a simple, fit for purpose, comfortable and unique experience hotel stay.

Capsule hotels are not everyone’s thing, however, 9 Hours is a simply designed, innovative, 
minimalist and straightforward hotel. Its concept is clear and simple: You sleep for 8 hours, an hour to groom and then you go.  

This hotel is more practical then luxurious, but you certainly do not feel like you are in a sleazy run down establishment – the interior is modern, futuristic and it defies the traditional vision of ‘Capsule Hotels’.

Capsule Hotels are not for those who consider them ‘private’ individuals – you have to be comfortable to appreciate and share a common courtesy.  Females and Males are separated by floor level. Each guest receives a locker key, slippers, towel, lounge wear and basic necessary amenities such as toothpaste and toothbrushes et al and the bathroom facilities are more than suffice.  There is also a lounge area on the ground floor with computer access.

The sleeping pod was surprisingly spacious and I certainly did not feel confined.  I could have done with my own pillow as the hotel ones were not to my liking but overall, the pods were comfortable and clean. Fortunately, I had no snorers, farters or loud chatterboxes during my stay.  Best to bring your own earplugs in your travel bag.

Each unit is fitted with a built in sleeping system, where the illuminated lights wake you up at a set time.  There are useful USB sockets for charging the necessary travel appliances and there is a blind at the end of the capsule which you pull down for privacy within your own pod.

It may not be 5 Star in label, but it was certainly 5 star for a clean, comfortable, innovatively designed, modern and practical living accommodation when travelling.



Monday, 1 June 2015

THE GREAT TORII AT THE ITSUKUSHIMA SHRINE | SYMBOL OF MIYAJIMA | JAPAN | 04.04.14

Heading towards the island of Itsukushima by boat, we see the beautiful red floating Torii gate. Its reflection gently rippling across the water as we pass by to stop at Miyajima pier.  On land, we observe the nature and serenity of the island. We follow the footpath to Itsukushima Shrine, wild deer wandering along the path and we calmly go around them.


The Shrine and the Torii Gate is a one of Japan’s symbolic heritage sites and we managed to be able to view the gate in both low and high tide and with the weather changing in intervals, it allowed us to view different transitions and experiences on the island. When we arrived on the island during mid-high tide, the gate appears to be floating in the sea, a remarkable view with an air of serenity.  This magnificent structure is the gateway to the shrine, standing at 16.6m high. It is considered to be the boundary between the spirit and human worlds.   The Shrine is architecturally captivating and in keeping with its traditional style.

We spent an entire day on Miyajima Island, so we were able to witness an incredible sunset with the vibrant red Torii Gate and Shrine being the most picturesque backdrop. During low tide we were able walk close up to the Great Torii structure and with the sun illuminating the sea shore, and sand glistening beneath our feet, we felt incredibly fortunate to be there, capturing memories and being part of the the stunning views symbolizing Japan.
Definitely one of our highlights of our Japan adventure. JPN