Updated: May 11, 2019
Japan is a country where ancient meets modern. Shinto shrines dating back hundreds of years are now dwarfed by skyscrapers. The contrasts are obvious.
After first visiting Japan during the hanami (cherry blossom) season, I knew I had to return to see the autumn colours. The palette of fiery reds, yellow and orange dominates the scenery. It is unlike anything I have ever seen on my travels.
Along with the Japanese aesthetic for well-manicured gardens and temples to the juxtaposition of modern skyscrapers and bullet trains, it's hard not to get a sensory overload. Starting off my trip in Tokyo, my journey took me south to Mount Fuji to see the final Sumo Grand Tournament for the year in Fukuoka, then back to Kyoto and Osaka.
Japan has unique sights and experiences that will leave an impression on any visitor. Here are my highlights.
Tokyo - A megalopolis of 13 million people that is constantly on the move and bathed in neon, at times, it's hard to know where to look. Omotesando is the area between Shibuya and Shinjuku renowned for retail therapy and the latest in modern design in all facets from architecture to fashion.
The landscape in Tokyo is constantly evolving and moving upwards. The Skytree now dominates the skyline and on a rare clear day, Mount Fuji can be seen. But it’s not called the shy mountain for nothing. I spent my evenings in Tokyo exploring some fine dining. I enjoyed Restaurant Luke and the piano bar at the Park Hyatt Shinjuku made famous by the movie, Lost in Translation. I have now ticked off another one of those 1000 pop culture things to do while travelling.
Mount Fuji - A 2.5-hour drive from Tokyo brings you to the great outdoors and five lakes that surround Mount Fuji. Now I say approximately as we drove around in circles. Our GPS could not work out whether the car was on the overpass or on street level. And receiving instructions in a foreign language also didn't help. Once we were out of Tokyo, it was smooth sailing and the change in pace was welcomed.
Hiring a car for this part of the trip is essential if you want to explore at your own pace. You can do day trips from Tokyo to the Mou