Experiencing a Dutch Christmas village in Southern Japan was certainly not something I was expecting but a welcome surprise! Huis Ten Bosch is a full scale replica of a city in the Netherlands, with brick for brick copies of hotels, castles, shops along the canals, and even windmills. It is a sight to see at Christmas – with over 13 million lights in their illumination display! We spent the day sipping mulled wine, listening to Christmas music, and exploring. It was the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit so far away from home!
The Japanese have a tradition of momiji-gari, or “hunting the autumn leaves”. This is a tradition I can get behind! For a few weeks, the temperatures drop and the momijis (maple trees) turn the brightest shades of red, orange, and yellow. We had the chance to take the Shinkansen to Kyoto for a long weekend and see this first hand. It’s no wonder people from all over Asia (and the world!) consider Kyoto one of the best spots. The colors are amazing!
Is there anything better than fruit picked fresh from the tree? There are so many opportunities to pick your own produce in Japan. The process works a little different than in America. A set price gets you a pair of shears and “all you can eat” while in the orchard. If you want to bring some home, you can pay for a carry out bag. Personally, I eat my money worth…and take a bag home!
Favorite places to pick fruit:
Tokyo is every bit as massive as I expected, full of skyscrapers, flashing billboards, and busy intersections. It is truly something to see! But Tokyo is surprisingly charming at the same time. Hidden just a few train stops away from the hustle and bustle of areas like Shibuya are spacious green parks and tiny local coffee shops. I did not realize that each area of Tokyo would have their own character and history. Of course, it’s no surprise that every area in this city is incredibly clean – even though you rarely see a trashcan!
Kamakura is the perfect day trip from Tokyo. Once a political capital in Japan, this ancient city runs at a welcomed slower pace and is full of rich history. The Daibutsu is a must see. This incredible Buddha statue has been standing here since 1252! Just a few blocks over from the temples and shrines is a thriving beach town. When sitting on Zaimokuza Beach with an acai bowl or frozen cocktail in hand, it is hard to imagine you are just outside of the world’s busiest city!
Favorite things to do in Kamakura, Japan
Do: Zaimokuza Beach