All in Japan

13 Awesome Things to do in the Ueno Park, the Best Park in Tokyo

When visiting Tokyo for the first time, one sleepy, jetlag heavy morning, we stubbed around the area we were staying and ended up on the west side of Ueno Park. Not knowing much about it, we wandered around aimlessly, discovering time after time the most peaceful, serene and beautiful little visual scenes which felt iconically Japanese. We loved it from the instant we stepped foot onto the lotus leaf-covered boardwalk which leads into the park. Ever since, when we return to Tokyo, we make a point to spend an entire half-day here exploring everything this place has to offer. Below are my favourite 13 things to do on your first trip to Ueno Park!

12 of the Most Instagrammable Places You Need to Visit on your First Trip to Kyoto

Kyoto is the second most popular spot for visitors coming to Japan after Tokyo. Where Tokyo is the city of dazzling neon lights, uber-modern inventions and architecture, explosive excitement and a bustling population, Kyoto feels like the exact opposite. It's the perfect balance to any trip to Japan. Kyoto is history. It's ancient Zen gardens perfect for internal contemplation, peaceful walks along aged pathways, spiritual visits to sacred temples and traditional creative arts and culture. Whereas Tokyo is a city designed with curated, instagrammable spots, Kyoto is just naturally photogenic. If you're only visiting Kyoto for a short period and are looking for the best spots to soak in the visual beauty of this city, these are my favourite places to hit up while on your photographic journey in the old capital of Japan, Kyoto.

The Best Self Guided Walking Tour of Gion, Kyoto's Historical Geisha Neighbourhood

The Gion district is one of Kyoto’s oldest neighbourhoods. The streets seem to surge with history but what makes this area so unique is because it is one of the last remaining places where you can see real Geishas in Japan. Up and down these streets you can keep your eyes open and see if you can catch a glimpse of a Geisha on her way to a tea houses where exclusive guests enjoy an evening of traditional Japanese entertainment.

The Complete 24-Hour Hakone Day Trip Guide: What to See and Do

Hakone is one of the most beautiful day trips you can take from Tokyo. It’s only a short 2-hour train ride away and transports you from the out of the metal metropolis of the city, into the lush green landscape of the Japanese countryside. Hakone is famous for their hot spring onsens, stunning view of Mount Fuji across Lake Ashinoko and unparalleled natural scenery.

The Ultimate Guide to Harajuku! What to See, Eat, Buy and Do in Tokyo's Hippest Neighbourhood

Exploring Harajuku is more than just walking down the famed Takeshita Dori Street. There are so many side alleys and hidden shops you need to explore to get a real sense of what Harajuku is all about and not just the touristy side of things. I’ve tried to make this list an easy to follow walking path from the station so you don’t have to backtrack too much!

16 Unique, Weird and Wonderful Experiences You Can't-Miss in Tokyo

Japan has the reputation of being unique, quirky and sometimes even flat out weird. But not weird in a bad, but weird in a good way. These unique experiences which are synonymous with Tokyo are the reason some people make the trip out there. While I would always advise you pair your adventures in Japan with some traditional experiences as well, I do completely understand those who want to find all the most bizarre activities this country has to offer. Here are my favourite weird and wonderful places and adventures to can find in Tokyo!

First Time Travelling to Japan? Here's our Ultimate Guide to Beat the Jet Lag and survive those first few hours in a new country!

Travelling to Japan as a first timer is a daunting experience. Going to a city where they don't use the Roman alphabet, let alone speak the language, is just one more hurdle which can make those first few hours in the city all that more confusing and intimidating. But trust me, Japan is one of the most incredible cities in the world and the kind people you'll find there are always more than happy to help you out with any pickle you might find yourself in. That being said, after many "first times" in Japan, I've plotted my top tips to ensure your first few hours there go as smoothly as possible, and you've set yourself up for success for the rest of your trip to Japan!

10 Street foods you MUST-EAT Around Nakamise Shopping Street, Asakusa

When visiting the famed area of Asakusa and the Sensoji shrine you're bound to work up an appetite! Luckily, Nakamise Shopping Street and the side streets around it, have a plethora of amazing street foods to choose from. I decided to make a day of this the last time I visited. Come HUNGRY because there are so many different things you NEED to try! This one area offers up so many traditional Japanese street foods, each one costing only a dollar or so. You can easily spend under $15 for an entire 10-course meal! There are plenty of food tours of this area, but it's so easy to do it yourself. While having a guide is a great way to ask questions and find out more from a local's perspective about the area, doing it on your own means it's up to you to find your way around and interact with the locals yourself.

Ultimate Guide to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo Japan

When you think of visiting Japan, no doubt one of the first things you'll imagine is walking into an ancient temple, painted bright vermillion, the smells of incense wafting the air. One of the most iconic of these temples is Sensoji in Asakusa, Tokyo. Perhaps the most visited temple in Tokyo, Sensoji is also the oldest temple in the city with over half millennia of stories to tell.

The Ultimate Neighborhood Guide to Tokyo's Electric Otaku District, Nakano

Blocks away from Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in Tokyo, you'll find Nakano. Nakano feels like the amalgamation of everything we dream about Japan being. You can find some of the best ramen shops, grandmothers dumplings, bustling Japanese shopping centers and the best in Japanese pop culture. And the best part about Nakano is that it's a low-rise neighbourhood, meaning that unlike Shinjuku with it's towering neon skyscrapers, this feels more like a quiet suburban community.

Our Guide to Exploring the Natural Wonders of the Beautiful Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

The first morning in Kyoto we decided to venture outside the city and visit one of Kyoto's most popular sights: the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Heralded as being one of the "most beautiful groves on earth" and designated a "National Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty" by Japan, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a place unlike anywhere else. It's a place where you can escape yourself, as long as you manage to escape the throngs of tourists as well.

Guide to the Robot Restaurant Experience, the Most Exciting and Exhilarating Show in Tokyo

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to do a bunch of psychedelic drugs in the year 2200? Well, wonder no more because the Robot Restaurant here in Tokyo is here to show you! The "restaurant" isn't really a restaurant at all. What it is, is a futuristic, energetic, vibrant, exciting, surprising and overall insane display modern, Japanese cabaret.

Guide to Visiting Kyoto's Okochi Sanso, Arashiyama's Stunning Traditional Japanese Villa and Zen Garden

Near the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama, you'll come across the entrance to the Ōkōchi Sansō Villa Gardens. After traipsing through the groves and narrowly escaping peak tourist hour, we were in need of a break from the selfie sticks and loud tour groups. Before entering we poked ours heads in the front gate. From there, it looked like there wasn't a soul inside. Immediately as we passed through the gate and started to walk up the hill, the noise from the tourists below disappeared. We could hear our footsteps on the stones below and the sound of the wind in the trees. It wasn't until the very end of the tour that we ran into another person. It was the perfect escape from the crowds below and more beautiful that we could have imagined.

The Ultimate Walking Tour of Kyoto's Incredible Fushimi Inari Shrine's 10,000 torii gates

One of the most iconic images of Japan has to be the bright, vermillion coloured torii gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto. Many people come to Fushimi Inari Taisha not knowing the scope of it. They see the images online and think it's just a few small alleyways - this is far from the whole picture. The main shrine sits at the base of the Inari mountains, but a path of thousands of torii gates behind the building leads visitors up 233 meters above sea level to visit 4 kilometres of sub-shrines finally ending at the magnificent mountain top shrine.