Bamboo Forest Japan – Planning to visit Kyoto?
If so, the Bamboo Forest Japan is a must stop. It may be that you have not planned your trip yet, but you can definitely bring your travel experience to a new dimension (climbing Mount Fuji) if you plan for it wisely.
So, when you see that the clouds in Kyoto have finally parted, it means that it is the right time to explore the destination many tourists love to choose:
The Bamboo Forest of Japan
You can see the bamboo forest situated in Arashiyama’s small town.
This indicates that it is just twenty-five minutes away from the downtown Kyoto.
So, if you plan to visit Tokyo, all you need to do is to catch a high-speed train, and take a short ride to Kyoto.
In two hours or so, you will see yourself in the enchanting Bamboo forest Japan.
Once you are there, your journey begins!
Here is the essential information you should have while traveling around the Bamboo forest Japan.
The Weather at Bamboo Forest of Japan
Though the scenery of bamboos planted all around the forest is amazing, there still is something you should consider seriously, i.e. the weather.
Just because the weather of Kyoto is quite unpredictable, you should be well aware that it can rain anytime.
However, the good thing is that you do not have to see a crowd of tourists while you enjoy traveling.
Doing The Packing Appropriately
Now that you have learned about the weather, you are required to pack smartly.
Guides mostly suggest tourists to get hold of waterproof boots, scarf, rain jacket, as well as one of the compact umbrellas so that you can carry it in your bag. Communing with Nature In a Kimono
The Bamboo Forest Japan Experience
If you are visiting Bamboo Forest Japan for the first time, then you will surely be amazed to see how tall those bamboos are!
In simple words, the site seems peaceful and majestic.
Walking through the paths is another way to enjoy the tremendous sight of bamboos planted all around you. And yes, these paths have been paved.
Finding A Restaurant While Traveling Around
When it comes to searching for a good place to eat and relax, there are two options:
Find a place which is crowded with locals
Avoid places that have a hostess or promoter trying to get tourists into a trap
One of the best places to visit is Seisyuuan. Along with offering the beautiful view of a river, you can explore where the oldest bridge of the town is.
Try The Boiled Tofu!
While you roam around Arashiyama, do not forget to eat boiled tofu.
As one of the specialties of this place, you can try it with a combination of meal.
Usually, something worth noticing is the boiling water pot filled with delicious tofu brought on your dining table.
Though this is considered the simplest meal you can have after enjoying the sights of Bamboo Forest Japan, many tourists find it equally delicious.
The Foot Bath At The Arashiyama Station
The best way to end your day is to look for a warm foot bath.
So, when you have walked a lot on the paths of Bamboo Forest Japan this foot bath will help you say good-bye to the foot pain, fatigue, and stress.
Epic Japan Bike Adventure Some Assembly Required
I’ve always liked bicycles.
You can find them all over the world, and though there might be a few differences, the riding them is familiar in a comfortable, second-nature way.
Plus, they’re a great way to see places a bit faster than walking, and they offer a good compromise between speed and green sustainability.
So when my friend Andrew sent me a message from Japan inviting me on an epic, South to North bike tour of the 4 main islands, I really wanted to say yes, and then work out the money and timing after.
Epic Japan Bike Adventure
So I did.
Fast-forward five months, after a bit of work getting funds and time together, I am in Japan with Andrew, and we’re about to set out.
We managed to lure another brave soul with the promise of adventure and Japanese sake, Scott, so it will be the three of us with our bikes and our panniers, taking on Japan.
The first and biggest challenge we faced, when we all committed to the trip, was coordination.
This trip has been planned, almost completely, with the three of us living in different countries.
Andrew has been in Japan for the last 2 years, teaching English, Scott lives in Boston, and I was in Montreal.
This meant our trip was planned mostly through a hodgepodge of email and Skype and even an attempt at a Google Wave.
Another kink came up in time zones. Andrew was 13 hours ahead of Scott and I, making his 5pm our 4am.
To make matters worse, I was working nights and Scott was working days.
This meant that, whenever the three of us were chatting or talking in real-time, one or more of us was only half-conscious.
Somehow, we all managed to get to Japan safe and sound, although not without some trouble (and some more trouble and as I write this, we are about 6 hours away from setting out on our pre-trip, 3-day hike on a little island near our start point, called Yakushima.
As for the route we’ll take, much of it will be decided on the road, but the two fixed points are the southernmost and northernmost points of Japan’s main four islands, Cape Sata in the south and Cape Soya in the far north.
However, recent events in Japan have made us reconsider some of the bits in the middle.
So far, our plan is to keep abreast of the latest news, and make final decisions as we approach them, perhaps taking a train or ferry to avoid any danger.
Recent events also made us reconsider our own motivations for taking the trip, and what bike-touring Japan right now would mean.
We decided that, while we didn’t want to just cancel the trip and ignore the devastation, we could not simply go on as if nothing had happened.
Instead, we decided to turn our trip into something to benefit Japan’s needy, in whatever small way we could.
To that end, we have begun a donation campaign for Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse, using our trip as a motivation for others to give.
Our goal is to raise $1 per kilometer per person, and since we should each be riding at least 3400km, we have set the bar at $10,000.
I am happy to say that we are almost pennies away from halfway, and considering we haven’t even started yet, that is amazing.
I am even more excited about the idea that we could exceed that goal. If you have thought about giving to relief in Japan, we encourage you to take the plunge and give.
Why Autumn in Japan is Better
Especially in autumn, Komyozenji Temple in Dazaifu, Japan is the epitome of refined, quiet beauty.
Sitting in the calm environment of the zen garden behind the temple always invites introspection.
In the same spirit as the Springtime cherry blossom viewings that are popular in Japan, people flock to temples, shrines, parks, and gardens such as Komyozenji to enjoy the changing and falling leaves of Autumn.
Photographs taken by travel photographer Andrew Marston who currently lives in Japan and runs a daily travel photography blog where other photographs from this trip will also be posted over the course of the coming weeks.
Winter in the Japanese Alps
Winter in the Japanese Alps
The inviting subtropical climate of Kyushu Island was driving me crazy!
With hot summers and mild winters, I needed to escape this “paradise”.
I grew up in frosty Maine, USA! We’re talking a place where November to April freezes your bones and makes even the toughest woodsman don an extra layer of flannel.
After some research, the Japanese Alps in the heart of winter sounded just the snowy get-away I pined for.
After one of the most enchanting train trips I’ve ever taken, I arrived in Takayama.
From there, it was a short bus ride through the switch backs of the Hida Mountains to Shirakawa Village.
Well deserving of its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this village prides itself on being a time warp back to Edo period traditional Japan, complete with farm houses built with thatching.
It also happens to be one of the snowiest places in Japan (measured in annual snowfall) and certainly lived up to the title.
Lori, my fiance, and I spent about 4 hours walking around snapping photos and soaking up the handsome historical vibes before it was time to take the bus back.
If ever you visit Shirakwa Village, I highly recommend walking up the path behind Wada house to Shiroyama Viewpoint (the last picture shown was taken from there).
Don’t forget your hand warmers and camera either.
For more of my escape to Winter in Traditional Japan, the trip starts here.
Andrew Marston is a Japan based travel photographer.
He likes slow train rides through rural areas, cameras with lots of buttons, and sharing his adventures with others.
Checkout Andrew’s Climbing of Mt Fuji
Things You Might Not Know About Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is probably one of the most famous mountains in the world – it’s the highest walkable peak anywhere on the planet and thousands of people head here each year to climb it.
That’s all well and good, but if you’ll be climbing Kilimanjaro as part of your gap year, you should know a bit more than that – to get you started, here are a few things you might not know about the Tanzanian mountain.
The First Successful Ascent
While climbing Kilimanjaro may still be an impressive feat, it’s nothing compared to what the first mountaineers went through to tackle the summit.
In October 1889, Hans Meyer, Ludwig Purtscheller and Yoanas Kinyala Lauwo became the first people to officially reach the rim of the Kibo crater and were the first ones to ascend Uhuru Peak – the highest point – on Purtscheller’s 40th birthday.
This was actually Meyer’s third attempt at scaling the mountain and the expedition party – which also included nine porters, a guide, a cook and two local headmen – set out from Mombasa on foot – imagine walking nearly 300 km before you even started your climb!
It’s Not A Mountain …
Despite being called Mount Kilimanjaro; it is, in fact, a stratavolcano, which is comprised of three volcanic cones, the highest of which is the Kibo crater where you’ll find Uhuru Peak.
Kibo is a dormant volcano, while the other two craters – Mawenzi and Shira – are extinct.
It’s been 200 years since any volcanic activity was recorded here, though, with the last major eruption occurring 360,000 years ago.
What Goes Up Must Come Down
You’ll no doubt know there are six official routes to the summit, but are you aware that only one of these follows the same path down?
Well, the Marangu route is one to avoid if you want to have a bit more variety on your trek, as you’ll go back down the way you came up if you choose this trail!
It’s also one of the busiest paths, so look elsewhere if you want a bit of solitude on your climb. Four of the other tracks – Machame, Shira, Lemosho and Umbwe – all share the same descent, known as the Mweka route.
It’s only ever used for going down, so you’ll never meet travellers on their way up on the final days of your trek.
Record Your Memories
While you will undoubtedly come home with numerous shots of you at the summit, taking photos isn’t the only way to record your ascent.
There’s a wooden box stored at the top of Uhuru Peak where almost every traveler to have made the climb has written down their feelings about the trek.
I think it’s a lovely idea, so make sure you keep up the tradition and jot a few lines in the book for others to look back on.
Speedy Ascent: It Can Be Done!
Your climb up Kilimanjaro will probably take at least five days and, if you have time, it’s worth choosing a route that lasts for seven or eight days to give you the opportunity to fully appreciate the variety of landscapes you’ll pass on your ascent.
That said, it can be done far quicker, as Gerard Bavato proved in 2007 when he reached the Uhuru Summit in just five hours, 26 minutes and 40 seconds.
While that might be the quickest climb, Gerard didn’t manage to win the accolade of fastest round trip too – that honour goes to Kilian Jornet, a Spanish trail runner who in October 2011 set the record of the fastest run to the summit and back, in 7 hours and 14 minutes, beating the previous record holder Simon Mtuy who did the ascent and descent in 8 hours and 27 minutes.
Have you climbed Mt Kilimanjaro?
How was your experience?
Unconventional Climbing Mount Fuji Japan
Most people climb Mount Fuji from the “5th Station” which is located about 2300m in altitude.
However, every year a very small percentage of the 300,000 annual Fuji hikers decide that they must hike all of the mountain and start from 0m in elevation at the ocean.
I had never heard of this route, nor have most Japanese people, but as soon as I learned it was an option, I knew I had to try.
Climbing Mount Fuji Japan
When my ultra-fitness friend Andy came to visit Japan, it was the perfect chance.
And so, at 11PM on Friday night, Andy and I, together with our friend Axel, went to Tagonoura Beach with no idea what we had gotten ourselves into.
Our plan was to hike the entire day. We reached the summit of Fuji to see the sunrise.
Our plan after that was to somehow walk down the other side to a bus that would take us to a hotel.
Per tradition when climbing Mount Fuji sea to summit, we filled our water bottles with sea water before heading out so we could dump them out at the top.
In the process, Axel managed to completely soak both of his sneakers meaning every step of his hike would be slightly less comfortable.
This wasn’t a good omen for the beginning of our trek.
We followed a route map created by another sea to summit hiker from which started us out walking on town roads.
At 2AM, we reached our final opportunity to stock up on supplies until reaching the 5th station, 7-11.
Past this convenience store we would be dipping into the woods for another 10 hours.
Needless to say, we bought all the chocolate bars our packs could hold.
Mizugazuka Park – the halfway mark
At noon, we came out of the forest into a big parking lot.
We had arrived at Mizugazuka Park.
This marked the halfway point of our journey.
Thirteen hours down, and only halfway… we were a bit behind schedule.
Hopefully we wouldn’t be too late to catch the sunrise.
There were picnic tables under an awning and a gift shop.
While we sat there munching happily on our chocolate bars, we heard a distinct and far-off sound that caught our attention.
Somewhere off in the distance thunder boomed ominously.
Ten minutes later we were in the middle of a heavy downpour.
Thankfully, under the protection of the snack shop’s awning, we ended up waiting an hour before the rain let up.
Hopefully it hadn’t made trails too muddy or slick.
Fujinomiya Trail – typical starting place
The afternoon turned to dusk as we hiked through the enchanted forest trails of Gotenniwa Nature Park.
Finally, we left the tree line behind and arrived at the 5th Station of the Fujinomiya Trail.
This is where most people start their Fuji hike, but we had already been walking for about 20 hours.
With spirits low and motivation waning, we bought more chocolate bars at the 5th Station Lodge and ate a very welcome instant noodle dinner.
By this point it was now dark, and at this altitude the temperature had dropped to around 12 degrees Celsius.
After changing into our cold weather gear and saying several desperate prayers for strength, we set out to climb Mt. Fuji like everyone else.
Ours was a typical Fuji night hike experience, if not slightly slower.
We would step uphill in the dark for about an hour until we reached one of the many mountain huts where we would take a break and eat more chocolate.
However, things got really difficult around 3000m in elevation.
It was midnight and Andy was complaining of a headache, nausea, and dizziness, all classic signs of altitude sickness.
All our energy levels were dangerously low having not slept since the morning of the previous day.
Despite our winter jackets, the now 4 degree (Celsius) temperature meant that if we stopped walking for long we would start shaking involuntarily.
Most of the final push for the summit is a blur, but I know somehow we made it up the final stretch to the peak.
After 27 hours of hiking over 50km up 3776m in elevation, we had done it.
Dumping out my water bottle full of undrinkable sea water at the peak, I felt a slight sense of accomplishment mixed with an overwhelming desire to go to bed.
After appropriate tired celebrations, we ambled back down, around the crater, and witnessed the most beautiful sunrise ever before hobbling down the Yoshida Trail to the bus that would take us to our beds. Communing with Nature In a Kimono
I can easily say it was the most physically demanding 27 hours of my life.
I would definitely recommend others considering climbing Mount Fuji to train beforehand, hike with friends, and bring a backpack full of chocolate bars and warm clothes.
Andrew Marston is a graphic designer and wannabe YouTuber living in Nagoya, Japan with his wife and several house plants.
(photo credit 1)