With its elegant temple spires, old-town avenues with Zen gardens guarded by impressive, carved doors, busy urban streets, secluded hot springs, and snow-capped mountains, Japan was a study in contrasts.

We spent two weeks in May in Tokyo, Kyoto, the tiny mountain town of Mt Yoshimi, Nara, and Norita. The public transportation system is so well organized and runs, if you can imagine it, even better than clock-work. We took trains between all our major stops, and only had to ask for directions once!

Tokyo

Tokyo was a busy urban city with rushing crowds, rush hour traffic, and some of the best little mom & pop noodle shops. Parks with amazing nooks that dared you to be stressed, a three-story McDonalds (yes, we couldn’t resist going in), little, hidden temples around every corner. We even came across a wedding!

Hole in the wall restaurant – owner insists we dress up before we can eat

Kyoto

Kyoto still maintains an old-world charm. We visited the Golden Temple, saw geisha’s in training, and took part in a tea ceremony. Walking around a lot gave us the opportunity to slip down quiet, garden-lined avenues off the beaten path.

A Young boy completes school assignment by talking to Rayka in English

Mt. Yoshini Ryokan

On Mt. Yoshini Ryokan we slept on Tatami mats and enjoyed the traditional Onsen or Japanese Hot Springs

My only regret was not immediately buying a fan with the most incredible sketch of a Japanese warrior with flowing hair. I couldn’t find that shop again!