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Japan by car

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Jun 22nd, 2014, 05:58 AM
  #1
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Japan by car

26.03.14
After 10 hrs flight from Copenhagen, arrival at the Narita Airport, Tokyo. Arrival ahead of time. We wait for our two friends and travel companions. They are supposed to come and get us by car, since they are very experienced drivers. Please note that in Japan driving is on the left side. They arrived just before 11 o´clock am. They had to download all data on the GPS, some of it in English and the rest in Japanese, the information provided in English is adequate to get us around Japan. The Japanese GPS is based on mobile phones and in fixed matrice addresses.
The tour heads for Kyoto, the drive usually takes 6 hrs, but we had to spend 11 hrs on the road because of heavy traffic, getting used to the road system and having to face rain that poured down for many hours. The drive took almost 12 hrs and at 21. 45 we arrived at our destination in Kyoto. There was still time to eat French at the Hikarya restaurant, which is actually a Greek name. Very good food, reasonable prices. The jet lag is to be felt right after dinner.

29.03.14
We left the Kyoto hotel in the most beautiful shiny weather you can imagine and it was shining all day long. We re heading for Hiroshima, a distance of 314 km. Incredibly many tunnels on our way. One stop on the way is the huge port city of Kobe. On the way again through the many tunnels and our good pilot is honking through all of them. The Japanese drivers seem surprised and they just make way in many occasions. We arrived at the Hotel Urbain Executive Hiroshima. At this point we face a rain shower and we cannot park the car in front of the hotel. There is a parking lot close to the hotel and we try to park there. All the signs are in Japanese, we don’t know what to do, a friendly man tries to help us (mostly in Japanese) and an unfriendly hotel desk nearby refuses to gives change for the parking. We soon found out we had to pay on our way out the next day, so we left the car there after paying for a couple of hrs.
We ate at the Baku Syoya grill restaurant which is a funny, clean place with many young people dining there. Fresh meat and salad is consumed and the atmosphere is very festive. We had free soft drinks at the hotel and we even had the opportunity to taste Matcha ice cream, an ice cream with a very distinct taste.

30.03.14
7.30 breakfast, many tourists have the same itinerary, so the breakfast lounge is crowded. We drive to the Peace Park of Hiroshima and where the A-bomb dropped. The remains of the Industrial Expo building of Hiroshima stand as a burned, dark monument to remind this horrible day. At the southern side of the park, a flame burns for the victims of the bombing in front of a cenotaph.
Every morning at 8.15 am the church bell erected in the northern side of the park rings in order to remind the time of the drop of the bomb. We visit the Peace Museum, a very interesting site with exhibits related to the bomb, the victims and the area. There were 15.000 Koreans and Chinese who were in Hiroshima as forced labour who died here along with some American POWs.
Later on, the tour brings us to the port of Hiroshima where we are about to take the ferry to the nearby island of Miyajima. Upon arrival, visitors are met by tame deer, trying to snatch things from people´s hands, because they think it´s edible/eatable. We took the ropeway on the top of the mountain and we experienced an amazing view of the bay surrounding the island and the nature that surrounded us. A two-stop magnificent tour before we hit the summit. For those who miss the departure of the last ropeway, there is a mountain path leading back to the point of departure. There is a bus service between the entrance of the ropeway and the port. In the afternoon, the visitor has the chance to see the tide covering the sandy coast with water.
Back to the ferry, then by car to Hiroshima to enjoy a voluminous dinner at the Baku Syoya grill where food is a wonderful culinary experience.
31.03.14
Monday morning we leave Hiroshima to reach the Awaji island and the town of Sumoto. Our pilot struggles to hold the time plan while her passengers enjoy the beautiful scenery. A rewarding stop at Onaruto bridge gives us the chance to see the furious waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Chinese Sea meet each other at a very violent and spectacular way. There is a system of 5 bridges that connect the island with mainland. The bridge of Oeresund between Denmark and Sweden is a sister bridge to this one. There is glass floor on the bridge, so the visitors can safely walk around and see the ocean underneath their feet. The Japanese were cautious in stepping on the glass, while the merry Americans were just jumping up and down on the glas.
Later on in the evening, the good pilot drives us at a nice hotel resort by the sea with a breathtaking view of bay and sunset.
01.04.14
The return to Tokyo begins and a long trip is ahead of us, but the smooth driving and the stereo music of various artists, makes it a good experience. In the evening and while the sun shines we arrive at the illuminated city, the Rainbow Bridge and the Statue of Liberty
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Jun 22nd, 2014, 10:51 PM
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Gosh, some long long distances! Can I ask why you decided on car travel throughout rather than using the shinkansen (bullet train) service?
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Jun 23rd, 2014, 09:08 AM
  #3
 
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Welcome to fodors!

That was an interesting and unusual itinerary, traveling by car to those destinations.

You mean "Inland Sea" not "Chinese Sea". Seto Naikai = Seto Inland Sea.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 02:07 PM
  #4
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We decided to travel by car, because we had 2 fellow passengers who had physical difficulties with walking and in order to make the travelling more pleasant, our pilot decided to travel by car and she did it just fine!
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Jul 15th, 2014, 02:09 PM
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Hello and thanks for the info on the Seto Naikai. Enjoy your trips.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 02:19 PM
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KYOTO
27-28.3.14
Breakfast at the 14 floor hotel Rhiga Royal Hotel. They have plates divided into 16 different spaces, very practical if you have to go up and down the large restaurant area. We take the care and head on to the Fushimi Inari Taisha temple complex dedicated to the gods of commerce and to rice and sake. The area is decorated with 5.000 orange painted columned gates situated in a national park. The atmosphere around and the forest are a unique experience.
The tour continues to the UNESCO world heritage temple of Daigoji. The temple is inside a green park ornamented with cherry trees blooming and zen monks working around the temple. The entrance to Kyoto museums is for free if the visitors are in kimono suits. From the park one could see the old city with the tiled roofs, small waterfalls and private gardens. The visitor can spend hours strolling around the old city. There you can take a man driven rickshaw, in order to see the views of the old Kyoto. The old Kyoto town offers the opportunity to buy handicraft and calligraphy items in reasonable prices. The Kyoto station area provides for a good meal due to various Japanese and international restaurants.
It is a town where one encounters men in traditional suits and women in kimonos. Later the same evening we ended in Fushimi Inari Tasha park where many youngsters have gathered to celebrate the Hanami (cherry tree blooms). There were outdoor tables and serving of alcoholic and soft drinks, where one could seat in a yoga position and enjoy the drinks along with Taro potatoes wrapped in leaves.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 10:50 PM
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Thanks SPI360 -- I wasn't implying any criticism by my question, was just curious as there were some long distances there, but looks like it worked out really well for you.
Looking forward to reading more!
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