In restarting my monthly trips around Japan, this weekends destination was Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Atami is a small beach/hot springs town about two hours from Tokyo. The city looks very 1970s with its construction style, which is sadly disappearing due to Tokyo-style Heisei era architecture (generic looking train station and tower condos).
Atami has short fireworks shows on the weekends which was the main reason of visiting (that and I needed to get away from my computer/desk)
One of my rare treks into the city for work. Top picture is looking south to Shinbashi, lower picture is looking down onto Tokyo station.
Sometimes, I take a day off from work to enjoy a train ride around rural Chiba Prefecture. As with most places I travel, there is not much to see except nature. And that is the reason that I love southern Chiba Prefecture.
About an hour train ride from Tokyo station is a simple transfer at Goi Station to the Kominato line. It’s easy to spot this station as it looks like on other station in the Kanto region. The trains are old, there are wooden train cars and everything looks like it was built in 1950.
After transferring, it does not feel like it’s just an hour away from the metropolis of Tokyo. In fact, it is a completely different world. The smell of the rural air, the sounds of the insects in the summer wind, the soft rumble of the train along the tracks. The perfect place to forget whatever troubles are on your mind and enjoy the world around you.
Today entry is one of my favorite cities in all of Japan, Nagasaki.
When I first came to Japan and lived in Fukuoka, I used to visit Nagasaki almost every Saturday to relax. Between the historic sites, the very walkable sidewalks, and the seaside, I can spend all day outside here. As seen below, there are streetcars to get around as well that stop at all the major tourist destinations. There is also lots of bus service in the city.
For lovers of colonial European architecture, Japanese shrines and temples (where there are plenty not on tourist maps), and Japanese history, I highly recommend Nagasaki.
To get to Nagasaki From Tokyo, it is a seven-hour shinkansen ride (with a transfer at Hakata) or a two-hour flight (the airport is a bit far from the city.)
*Please forgive the variations of picture quality as these pictures were taken between 2003-2015
Not sure why this vending machine has a torii around it…
Dusk from Glover Garden
Three hours by air from Tokyo is the heart of the Yaeyama archipelago, Ishigaki. Ishigaki is the hopping off point for all of the islands south of the main Okinawan island.
We have been to the islands three times (I think) and enjoyed it every time. In an odd twist, every time we go, a typhoon comes and the trip is cut short by 3 days. Unlike some of the other islands I will write about soon, with the exception of Ishigaki, a car is not needed to get around
Hateruma: The southernmost island in Japan. Like most of the remote islands of Okinawa, not much except isolated beaches and farmland. We rented bicycles to get around the island.
Road to the beach
The southern-most point in Japan
A beautiful but scary sunset
The Southern-most toilet in Japan
Tarama: One of the smallest islands I’ve ever been to with a population of only 1,300. Like Hateruma, not much besides farms and isolated beaches. The hotel we stayed at was small and simple and we spent most of the time cycling around the island enjoying nature. An interesting fact about this island is that the airport is only open part time. The ticket counter lady is also the baggage claim lady and tarmac person.We ended up staying an extra day due to mechanical issues with the airplane.
Tarama from a water tower
Old Tarama Airport
The Hotel Room
A perfect road to cycle on. Not a car in sight.
In flight between the islands
A long time ago, well, 7 years ago, I lived in Hiroshima. Not one of my best memories of Japan, but it set me on the course I am on now.
Anyways, about two hours south by local train, and 15 minutes by Shinkansen in the city of Iwakuni. It is an odd little town that is divided into three parts. There is the factory part of town to the north, a military base/airport in the east, and some of the most beautiful rural areas to the west.
Also in Iwakuni is a part of the city rich in history with a castle and a famous bridge named Kintai-kyo.
Iwakuni Castle (I can’t recall the name now)