Japan Diaries - Day 6 Arashiyama Bamboo Grove & Higashiyama

    Our plan today was to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove using the Randen Tram line in the morning. In the afternoon we were going to explore the old town area Higashiyama some more.

    We wanted today to be more relaxed. We’d had a later one last night exploring and had been running around pretty much non-stop. Today was all about slowing it down.

    Breakfast at Smart Coffee

    We spotted Smart Coffee when we were wandering the Shotengai around our hotel and had seen people queuing to get in. We’d made a mental note to try it out, and what’s more relaxing than a luxurious breakfast?

    After a short queue we were shown to our seats and this place was fancy 🧐.

    Myself and my boys had Iced coffee’s with my wife going for tea. We ordered Hot Cakes1 and French toast both served with a generous cup of maple syrup.

    My son in front of a plate of large thick french toast

    A plate of “hot cake” pancakes with  tiny jug of maple syrup on the side

    The service and presentation at this place was high class. The only thing I could really compare it to in the UK would be Betty’s Tea Rooms

    I was looking at what other tables had ordered, and their egg sandwiches and purin2 also looked world class.

    Read More

    Japan Diaries : Day 5 All Over Kyoto

    Today was our “Get around and see stuff” day, with our priority being the Imperial Palace. We’d seen a little bakery around the corner we decided to hit up for Breakfast first.


    We went to Sizyua which was just around the corner from our hotel. A local bakery which has been going since 1948 and is named after the founders wife.

    A breakfast plate with thick white toast and a hard boiled egg

    We had the curious breakfast combo of toast and a hard boiled egg. I had white bread where my family had the fruit bread.

    Whilst to us being foreigners, the combo was slightly odd but still delicious. Thick well toasted and beautifully buttered bread, and a nice hard boiled egg! What’s not to like!?

    Read More

    Japan Diaries : Day 4 Shinkansen to Kyoto & Nishiki Market

    Shinkansen to Kyoto Our first Shinkansen ride! How exciting! We’d heard all about the Bullet Trains and with tickets booked we made our way to Tokyo Station. You’ll see more on the exterior of Tokyo Station in subsequent blogs, but for today’s purposes, know that is is big and it is bustling. Not only is it a train station, but a shopping mall, a place to buy gifts and so much more.

    Read More

    Japan Diaries : Day 3 Shibuya,Shinjuku & Kabukichō

    Today’s plan was to hit a lot of the more famous central locations within Tokyo.

    Shibuya, Shinjuku and a quick roam around the natourious Kabukicho.


    A Timelapse of Shibuya crossing as the blur of people cross the street

    Of course, where else do you start apart from at the famous Shibuya Crossing! I once heard Chris Broad say it’s just a crossing and he doesn’t understand the hype, and I can absolutely see what he means 🤣

    The back of a street sign covered in colourful stickers

    It’s a lot smaller in person than I expected. It was cool to see and walk across, and see some of the other local legendary spots like 109, but Yeh… I wonder if tourists to the UK feel the same way about Piccadilly Circus

    The entrance to basketball street in Shibuya. Colourful ribbon streamers welcome you to to the neighbourhood

    I remember Times Square truly taking my breath away the first time I joined onto it… Maybe I’m just mor of an old grumpy jaded bastard now. 🤪

    Read More

    Japan Diaries : Day 2 - Senso-ji Temple & Akihabara

    Asakusa & Senso-Ji Temple

    Walking towards Senso-Ji temple on a hot summer day

    We set off to Asakusa around 10:30 and it was already extremely busy. The heat was intense but bearable. Navigating the Tokyo metro was amazingly easy and we soon found ourselves walking down Nakamise shopping street towards the temple entrance.

    A crowded temple gate My two children posing for a photo at the entrance

    We posed for some photo’s at the entrance and took in the sight. A sweet older Japanese gentleman came up to my eldest son and asked if he could practice his English. They had a short conversation about where we were from and how long we were staying in Japan.

    People bathing in the incense smoke from a large bowl

    We saw the Jokoro, a large incense burner. People gather around this and wave the smoke over themselves as it’s believed to have a healing effect.

    We drew Omikuji. Fortunes you gather by turning a box filled with sticks then looking at the writing to match up with a particular drawer containing your fortune.

    A time lapse of the temple entrance. People blur into the distance

    Read More

    Japan Diaries - Day 1 - Flight out and arriving in Akasaka

    I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. For your typical reasons of being into games, anime, extremely salty food 😜. Being British we also share the Japanese passion for queues and excessively saying sorry…

    Visiting Japan with my best friend Chris was something we always talked about in my 20’s. I wish we could have made it happen before he sadly passed away. I did finally make it on my 43rd birthday with my wife and my two boys (13 & 16).

    My family wasn’t as hot on visiting Japan as I’d always been. It just wasn’t really a place that was massively on their radar outside of Wagamama and Sushi. During the great COVID lockdown whilst stuck in our house and working from home we decided to watch a huge pile of travel content YouTube. From webcams across the world to more curated content old and new.

    Of course, a portion of these were people based in Japan. From Abroad in Japan, Only in Japan, Sharmeleon, Rion Ishida, Tabieats, Tokyo Creative,Junk Food Japan, Tokidoki Traveller and Seerasan my family started to get as interested as I was in what Japan had to offer.

    With my eldest son reaching 16 and finishing his GCSE’s my wife Jen proposed we have a big blast family holiday and she said she’d like us to go to Japan! The planning then began and we’ve just got back from two week trip! I’m going to post about our experienceson the journey as well as some of my favourite pictures on the trip. So here we go!

    Travelling out

    We flew out with British Airways on my birthday. The flight was scheduled to be twelve and a half hours but ended up being closer to fourteen and a half as there was a faulty chair stuck in recline which kept us on the tarmac as engineers hacked away at it.

    I’m aware unless you are willing to pay in the mid thousands of pounds the golden days of air travel are over, but boy I was shocked at just how dated and worn out the interior was. Torn/dirty trim visible and my in flight entertainment headphone socket would only work if I kept my hand on it to position it correctly. I can’t believe other carriers are this poor. Last time I flew was to Florida in 2017 with Virgin and that felt more modern than this flight. My family was a little more forgiving than me, but I would actively avoid flying BA in future given the choice…

    They did however have their own BA/Brewdog collab beer on the flight! Delicious! 🍻

    Finally we did touchdown in the afternoon Japan time, got our JR Pass,the essential Suica Cards and made our way on the Monorail to our first hotel!

    Hotel 1 - Mimaru / Area - Akasaka Tokyo

    Our first hotel Mimaru was a great experience! We’d booked their more traditional Japanese style room vs their more western offering, which comes complete with a small kitchenette and (as seems to be standard in Japan) a refrigerator.

    Comfortable, clean and surprisingly spacious, with friendly staff and an incredible roof terrace to relax on. We got some food from the konbini over the street, spent some time on the roof terrace taking in the incredible views, sneaking our first peek at Tokyo Tower!

    Read More

    And who doesn’t love a GUNDAM

    The robot gundam statue at Diver City illuminated purple in the rain at night

    Some Tokyo Station shots from “Kitte” (Japanese for stamp, as it’s a mall that was/is a post office as well) skygarden

    This was such an incredible mix of the old and the new at work. Stunning views.

    Me holding my wife looking out over an out of focus Tokyo sky of skyscrapers

    a view of the beautifully illuminated Tokyo station with the modern buildings and garden on display

    More Japan photos coming soon. Had to come back to Tokyo from Hiroshima as all Shinkansen are being cancelled due to the typhoon and we wanted to make sure we were back in Tokyo for our flight in a few days.

    I have made a friend though, and discovered “Whisky sour” in a can! 😊

    My dumb face with a Domokun plushie and a whiskey sour drink in a can

    Shinjuku vibes… from☀️ to ☔️ and back again, all in a manner of minutes.

    motion blur of Shinjuku crossing

    a street sign plastered with stickers of all descriptions

    a bridge. Commuters scurry with umbrellas up against the rain

    a man made canal. A long exposure so the water blurs

    A child sits on LED lit steps

    2 days so far in Japan and it’s been so exciting! 😊

    A Tokyo street with an abundance of power csbles agains buildings old and new. The Tokyo skytree in the distance

    A long exposure of a japanese shopping street. people blur as they move with tokyo skytree in the distance

    From the food, to the people and the adventuring it’s fabulous!

    Japanese summer however is no joke 🥵