Osaka Castle is one of the must-see places whenever visiting the city of Osaka. Containing historical artefacts spanning many centuries, the structure is an imposing sight to behold. Once you wander past the stalls selling the street food favourite Takoyaki (Fried Octopus Balls) the impressive architectural fortress speaks volumes towards Japanese ingenuity. The buzz of fellow travellers and the cawing of crows accompany a visit which is truly memorable.
With the streets having a perpetual dampness similar to a soggy kitchen towel after evening wash up, Kyoto’s Kinkaku-Ji or “Golden Temple” shone with pride and dignity on the day of our visit. Flanked by school children we manoeuvred our way through the horde in the hope of finding solace and space, we would be disappointed. Albeit briefly, for the building has an aura and commanding nature that catches your attention like an air horn piercing the early morning silence. The charming enclosure allows the mind to wander and makes you think about a time when patience was a virtue and conversation was the norm.
The grounds surrounding the temple had a fresh effervescence, with the dewy sweet air so plentiful and enriching you felt as though you were on a literal cloud as you glided around the shrubbery. Once we moved on from the rockeries we ventured into the old town, joined by our unofficial guide and old family friend of mine Toshi Kanata or as he was known to us, Toshi-San. A whirlwind tour of rapid-fire facts and charm ensued as Toshi-San introduced us to various members of Kyoto society all culminating with a beer and some gyoza at the oldest bar in Kyoto. The authenticity of our day in Kyoto is what made it memorable, we felt as though we witnessed the true Japan and experienced true Japanese Culture and if that wasn’t enough the evening spent in our Ryokan’s Onsen sipping Sake by the bottle cemented the genuineness.
Kamui Ski Links - Open for the Season
Opting to venture further north than our fellow countrymen we arrived in Asahikawa around midday after an overnight train ride from Aomori via Sapporo. Powder was on our minds and the Japanese ski fields was where we could get our fix. There are few great pleasures quite like having a whole run to yourself that’s covered in fresh snow. The sound of your ski’s cutting through the flurry, echoing off the trees is like no other.