To go to Japan during winter season, has been sitting in my bucket list since the last 2 years after i went there for first time during Sakura festival in 2016. With my curiosity how the winter would be gonna look like in Japan, finally i made it there for 19 days (extended 3 days from the original plan).
My original route was: Tokyo - Nagoya - Kyoto - Osaka - Hokkaido - Tokyo. But then i changed my mind because the trip to go to Hokkaido is really far and it's gonna spending so much time in the train and few times transit to change shinkansen, so I decided to skip Hokkaido and gonna save it for the next visit.
And my fixed route was: Tokyo - Nagoya - Nagano - Takayama - Hiroshima - Kyoto - Tokyo. But in between Hiroshima - Kyoto, i made a short transit to Naoshima island which is very famous as an art island, and it was worth it even though i only spent 1.5 hours in the island and plus another 3 hours in total for the train, ferry and bus.
In this trip, i made all the decisions of all the destinations in last minute plan. I planned where i wanted to go just a day or two days before arriving, after checking on the map, and booked the hotel a night before arriving to the destination. It was thrilling experience and fun at the same time. I was clueless, only rely on google map and asking friends for some recommendations. And it was another great solo trip i've done so far after New Zealand.
I've done exploring basic places in Tokyo last time. So in this visit, i just wanted to chill, walking around some areas that i've never been, eating and meeting a lot of friends. I was really lucky because i have many friends who were traveling at the same time and also some friends that live in Tokyo and they were on holiday so they could show me around some cool spots in the city. I also had a chance to celebrate New Year Eve 2018 together with my best friends. I also extended my stay only to have time to explore Tsukiji fish market because it was closed during NYE holiday, and also went to Nikko.
The main reason i wanna go to Nagoya, because it's the closest city to go to Nabana no Sato WInter Illumination, the light festival. It's light festival during winter in a big area about 45 minutes by train. It was the most beautiful light festival i've ever seen.
Because it's winter season, of course I wanted to see some snow because in my country only has wet and dry season. So i only spend a night in Nagoya, then went straight to Nagano. When I arrived there, it has just started to snow. And even thicker for the next day when I visited Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, to see some snow monkeys doing onsen.
After Nagano, my next destination was Takayama, the closest city to get to Shirakawa-Go village, my main reason i visit Japan during winter time. I stayed 2 nights there and had chance to spent a day at Shirakawa-Go and a day to walk around Takayama city.
After Nagano, I traveled far to the south, to the city that famous because of the atomic bomb was dropped there in world war II, Hiroshima. It was a big city with different hype and different atmosphere than Tokyo or Osaka.
Actually, why i wanted to go to Hiroshima, it's because the city is very close to Miyajima, where there is a famous flying torii gate. It was almost dark when i got out of the train arriving at Miyajimaguchi station. The torii gate looks stunning with the orange color and floating on the water.
This island was not in my plan, but then when i saw the map and read some articles about this island, i decided to go there on my way to Kyoto. Just make a short trip (literally short trip, for 1 hour in the island), i finally can see the big yellow pumpkin of Yayoi Kusuma and the Benesse House, the modern art contemporary museum.
It has been my favorite city since i first arrived in Kyoto for the first time in 2 years ago. Luckily, Gonzalo and Uriel were there at the same time like me, so we explore around the city together and also went to Nara. I managed to have a photoshoot here with Andrew, my new friend. We took some shoot in Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari, Hokanji Temple and Yasaka Shrine. Check the results here.
When you travel to Japan and want to go to other cities and travel far in the country, make sure you already purchased the Japan Rail Pass in your country before your departure to save a lot of money for using the JR trains, JR ferries and JR buses. And don't forget to rent a pocket wifi. It will make your traveling easier than ever. And book your accommodations few days or weeks before arriving date to save more money.
What i love about Japan, the country is very clean, everyone is so polite (even, too polite!), willing to help even though they don't speak english well. They love to follow the rules and you will see so many queueu everywhere. The most important thing, it's a safe country for solo traveler women like me. I felt safe when i travel there.
Japan is really an unique country. It has strong culture and modern at the same time. And each seasons has different atmosphere. I would love to go back here again and feel autumn season. Arigatou Gozaimas Japan! Sayonara!