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    Sunset over Mount Fuji, Japan – pinch Me. Travel Linkup

    A cool wind whistled over the hilltop. Sunlight glinted the surface of Lake Hakone on one side and dappled the surface of the Pacific Ocean beyond the grey stone building nestled at the peak of the (terrifying) cable car wires.

    In front of us cloaked in Winter splendour, Mount Fuji. Her peak mostly bare of clouds we took several long moments to simply breathe in the auspicious and rare sight.

    I’ve never felt more alive than that moment (and standing with my Boy at the Church altar). Just a moment of profound depth, one that will never be forgotten, and I have treasured in many quiet times since.

    We were even luckier for the simple fact of making it to the first level of the Mountain (there are two levels ascendable by vehicle, and a third often trekked on foot in Summer) as the winter weather only cleared enough 20 minutes before we were due to arrive. After the coach trip back, we headed towards the Ryopponen tower and watched the sun dip behind Mount Fuji’s silhouette in the distance. A wonderful end to a blissful day.

    The Pacific Ocean (to the left) was calling my name. So close, yet so far…)  

    What is it about Japan that so captures imaginations? Everyone we know who has visited adores the country, the customs and the food, and everyone that hasn’t been desperately wants to go.

    Whilst we were staying in Tokyo, this was the only thing I absolutely had to cross off the list – besides eat conveyor belt sushi – and had booked it far in advance of the plane tickets. We caught a day coach trip, and it was the easiest thing in the world.

    Rebecca, Kelly and I have been treated to the most wonderful roundup of travel “Pinch Me” Moments for this Month’s travel Linkup (see below). By this, we meant those moments that are so wonderful you feel you must be dreaming. In this case, I think I actually got Mr Kiwi to physically pinch me.

    As ever, my offering with Adventures of a London Kiwi is a touch late to the party due to travel, ironically, but better late than never, right?

    I’m lucky enough already to see many wonderful countries, and experience many fantastic moments throughout the few years we’ve been travelling. Enough to well and truly convince me that travelling expands you in a way that you may never understand with each an every experience. It does leave you with a serious case of wanderlust though, an almost anxiety to discover the next corner. And sometimes a delicate tummy – but that’s entirely another story.

      

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    Nara, Japan #travelthursdays

    Spending time reflecting on trips to the British Museum with it’s Japanese Gallery, the beautiful Netsuke and the glorious art of tea drinking, has me homesick for Japan, and in particular our memories of Nara.

    It is a lovely historical oasis. Serenity, respect and beauty are the words that come to mind.

    These Sika deer were lovely. They eat out of your hand (this one I especially loved – he had worked out that he should stand by the cart selling the deer food discs. Smart beastie) then they bow to you. They were regarded as sacred messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion. 




    According to local folklore, deer from this area were considered sacred due to a visit from one of the four gods of Kasuga Shrine, Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto. He was said to have been invited from Kashima, Ibaraki, and appeared on Mt. Mikasa-yama riding a white deer. From that point, the deer were considered divine and sacred by both Kasuga Shrine and Kōfuku-ji. Killing one of these sacred deer was a capital offense punishable by death up until 1637, the last recorded date of a breach of that law.

    After World War II, the deer were officially stripped of their sacred/divine status, and were instead designated as National Treasures and are protected as such. (Cheers Wikipedia!)


    By the end of the day we were drinking sake in a local stand up sake bar (they are called tachinomis) surrounded by locals who spoke no English whatsoever and some of the tastiest food we had whilst in Japan. That memory alone epitomises travelling for me.

    What travel destination can’t you get out of your head?


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    Hiroshima, Japan #travelthursdays

    When we were in Japan, tripping around Tokyo & Kyoto with a week-long Shinkansen pass we couldn’t waste the opportunity to visit the small but infamous Japanese town of Hiroshima, and learn about the devastation caused.

     

    The sad story of Sadako and her thousand Cranes.

     

     

    I have to be honest, I wasn’t certain about going as I’m ultimately a chicken and prone to being affected deeply by stories of war, but I’m so glad we did. It’s somewhere that we never thought we’d see – an otherwise unremarkable Japanese town that will be forever known because it had the misfortune to have clear weather the day that a nuclear bomb was to be dropped.

     





    Innocent people are the ones most hurt in war. 140,000 souls died and the epitaph, museum and peace park are moving testament to these people.

    The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is located in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, in central Hiroshima, Japan. It was established in August 1955 with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hall (now the International Conference Center Hiroshima). The museum exhibit presents the facts of the atomic bombing, with the aims of contributing to the abolition of nuclear weapons throughout the world, and of promoting world peace.


    The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum


    The Peace Flame was first lit in 1964 and still aflame to date. The mission is to have it remain lit until all the nuclear bombs in the world is destroyed and humanity is free from any nuclear treats.

     

    Where have you visited that left a mark on your heart in unexpected ways?


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    Kyoto, Japan – #travelthursdays

    For us, Japan was a country of two halves (oh, and they’re getting pretty good at rugby) the old, beautiful traditions and a new modern world adapting itself to the future. It’s all the more amazing for how easily they seem to meld the two.

     

     

     

    For us it was the most apparent in our friends newly built home – having a  traditional Tatami mat room (the majority of the family played, read, slept and relaxed there) in addition to the Western style dining room and heated toilet seats which fascinated us endlessly.

    Kyoto is a beautiful city, full of the wonderful nooks and crannies I especially love, perfect for losing more than a few afternoons down it’s markets and temples…

    (stopping for the all important fuel of a snack)

    in bendy-windy and steep Old Town shopping and dining.

    Don’t the hills in the background look just like painted porcelain?

     

    This a great example of the dichotomy which so struck me.

    We spent over 10 days exploring, catching up with friends, celebrating our 3rd Christmas Day with expat friends and then a proper Japanese New Year (with a few side trips) before heading to Tokyo, and had the feeling that we had only tasted a tiny iota of it’s charm.

    I also definitely approve of their Karaoke selection – who knew!

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    Tokyo – A walk through time and culture

    I actually can’t convey in words how much I adored Japan, and especially Tokyo. It’s a country with an incredibly unique way of life and view of the world. It is the most exotic place I’ve ever had the luck to travel to, and as soon as we got there, we were planning our return trip.

    Fast, eclectic, and exciting mix of innovative technology, and brimming with age old traditions, Tokyo was simply a place that I could go back again and again.

    I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that I fell in love with, but almost everyone that I know who has been to Japan is exactly the same.

    We visited several cities; Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Tokyo and Mt Fuji herself but there are so many more places I want to see.

    Anyone fancy sending your roving reporter back? I will make Lolly Cake for you…

    Where have you travelled to that stole your breath? 

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