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An Extraordinary Ride Through Japan

July 07, 2023 12:41 IST
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Aishwarya Sathe and her husband spent 13 days crisscrossing Japan and adored every minute of it, from the highs of Tokyo to the country's most serene spots, which are the silent places of the world.

IMAGE: Shinjuku City, a ward of Tokyo, teeming with nightclubs and towering buildings, seems to live in the future. Photograph: Kind courtesy Basile Morin/Wikimedia Commons

Day 1 to Day 5: Tokyo, A World of Endless Marvels

When we arrived in Tokyo, the city of boundless energy, we were instantly captivated by its vibrant atmosphere.

The first few days were spent immersed in the bustling streets of Shinjuku and Shibuya, where towering skyscrapers, busy shopping districts, and neon lights painted a picture of ultra modernity.

We indulged in authentic Japanese cuisine at the local izakayas or pubs and explored the quiet gardens of the Imperial Palace.

Tokyo's diverse neighborhoods offered a varied tapestry of experiences, from the historic Asakusa district and its awe-inspiring, ancient Buddhist Senso-ji Temple to the trendy neighborhoods of Harajuku and Akihabara, where pop culture and technology seamlessly merged.


IMAGE: Aishwarya Sathe with her husband at Kyoto's gorgous torii gates. Photograph: Aishwarya Sathe
Day 5 to Day 7: Kyoto, Timeless Beauty and Cultural Heritage

Leaving Tokyo behind on a Shinkansen or bullet train, we ventured to Kyoto, a city steeped in history and renowned for its preserved traditions.

Kyoto's iconic sights left us breathless at every turn.

The Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, with its vermilion torii gates, created an ethereal path leading to moments of serenity and reflection.

Arashiyama's Bamboo Grove transported me to a world of tranquility as we walked through the towering bamboo stalks swaying gently in the wind.

The magnificence of the exquisite Kinkaku-ji temple, covered in gold leaf, was reflected in the calm surrounding pond.

Exploring the geisha district of Gion was delving into a touch of mystique, as we strolled through narrow streets lined with quaint teahouses and wooden machiya or townhouses.

IMAGE: The memorial park at Hiroshima, on Honshu Island, remembers the tragic events of August 6, 1945 when at 8.15 am Enola Gay flew over this southern Japanese town dropping the Little Boy. Photograph: Aishwarya Sathe

Day 6 to Day 8: Hiroshima Was About Remembrance and Resilience

From Kyoto, we embarked for Hiroshima, a city that owns a profound history and carries a powerful message of peace.

Visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, we paid tribute to the victims of the atomic bombing.

The Atomic Bomb Dome, standing as a sombre reminder of the past, held an aura of both hope and resilience.

The Peace Memorial Museum provided a comprehensive, emotional account of the city's tragic history and the enduring spirit of its people.

A visit to the picturesque Miyajima Island allowed me to marvel at the iconic floating torii gate and get bewitched by the beauty of Itsukushima Shrine.

IMAGE: Street food in Osaka. Photograph: Aishwarya Sathe 
Day 9 to Day 13: Osaka, A Fusion of Modernity and Culinary Delights

Osaka was a city renowned for its vibrant street food culture and modern architecture.

I explored the bustling Dotonbori district, where the aroma of sizzling takoyaki (savoury ball snack, often filled with octopus) and the dazzling lights of billboards filled the air.

Osaka Castle, a magnificent fortress surrounded by lush gardens, offered a glimpse into Japan's feudal history.

I headed to the lively district of Shinsekai, where we tasted mouthwatering kushikatsu (skewers of deep fried vegetables and meat) and enjoyed panoramic views from the Tsutenkaku Tower.

A day trip to Nara allowed us to encounter friendly deer at Nara Park and take in the grandeur of Todai-ji Temple, home to a glorious bronze statue, largest in the world, of the Great Buddha.

As my time in Japan drew to a close, we couldn't help but feel a sense of gratitude for the cultural treasures we viewed and the rich experiences that unfolded before our eyes.

From the dynamic streets of Tokyo to the immortal beauty Kyoto, the tenacity of Hiroshima, and the culinary wonders of Osaka, Japan had left an indelible mark on our soul.

With a heart full of cherished memories, we bade a fond farewell to this enchanting country, knowing that a bit of Japan would forever live within us.

IMAGE: The Kyoto Imperial Palace was restored in 1877 and its surroundings are a public park. Photograph: Aishwarya Sathe

IMAGE: Chinatown in Yokohama, one hour from Tokyo, is one of three Chinatowns in Japan where once Chinese merchants resided in the 1800s. Photograph: Aishwarya Sathe

IMAGE: Japan is a land of shrines, temples and palaces. There are 80,000 Buddhist temples and some 100,000 Shinto shrines. Palaces number over a hundred although Japan in its heyday is said to have had 5,000 royal homes. Photograph: Aishwarya Sathe

IMAGE: Tokyo to Kyoto by Shinkansen or a bullet train takes around two hours and 40 minutes to cover 494 km and will set you back by nearly $200 or Rs 16,000 round trip. Photograph: Aishwarya Sathe


IMAGE: The colour, lights and technology of Shinjuku in Tokyo, be they Pokemon-decorated drink dispensers or slot machines or winking skyscrapers, will make you dizzy. Photograph: Aishwarya Sathe

IMAGE: An artistic manhole cover in Hiroshima. Photograph: Aishwarya Sathe


IMAGE: The humming Dotonbori street in Osaka. Photograph: Aishwarya Sathe

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/

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