The armchair traveller’s guide to Japan

Coronavirus has disrupted travel plans for many people around the world and right now it’s uncertain when things will get back to normal. Currently many flights to and from Japan are cancelled, and visitors from many countries are barred from entry or have to undergo a period of isolation. Under these circumstances, the number of visitors to Japan has dropped dramatically, even though cherry blossom season normally sees peak tourism numbers.

What I’ve done this week is a virtual tour of Japan for the armchair traveller. If you were going to visit Japan to see the cherry blossoms, you can take a little spring trip online instead. Or maybe, like many people around the world, you are in lockdown and looking for something to fill your day. This virtual tour will take you outside of your house for a while.

The tour is divided into seven days, so you can travel each day from your own home. Where possible, I’ve tried to find live cams so you can see how a place actually looks right now, or 360˚ videos so you can look around, just like you would if you were there. Just click on the direction arrows in the top left corner.

Let’s start!

Day 1 Tokyo

The tour starts in Asakusa with a walk up Nakamise Street to Sensoji temple. What’s the weather like today?  After exploring Asakusa, we go to Ueno Park to walk among the cherry blossoms.

Day 2 Tokyo

Today we go to the new Toyosu fish market to see the tuna auction and learn a bit more about the market. Then it’s time for more cherry blossoms, first of all along the canal in Nakameguro and then at night.

Day 3 Shibu Onsen

In the morning we travel to Shibu Onsen, close to Jigokudani Monkey Park, home of the famous snow monkeys.   It’s a small onsen town and a great way to spend the evening is to visit the bath houses scattered throughout the town.

Day 4 Travel from Shibu Onsen to Kyoto

Today involves a bit of travel, first going from Shibu Onsen to Nagano where we stop to look at Zenkoji temple. Then we travel on the shinkansen from Nagano to Kanazawa, changing to the Thunderbird Express to take us to Kyoto. Take a look at the view from the train window!

Day 5 Kyoto

Kyoto has a lot to do and see, so we’re going to start with a quick tour of some of the more well-known temples. Then we’ll visit the Kyoto National Museum for a look at their splendid collections.

Day 6 Kyoto

Today we’ll join a tea ceremony at Camellia Tea Ceremony. After that, we’ll visit Ryoanji temple and look at their gardens, including the famous dry garden.

Day 7 Back to Tokyo

Our virtual spring tour is coming to an end, so let’s take the shinkansen back to Tokyo.  The journey is less than three hours, so we have time to visit Teamlab Borderless in the afternoon. For our final evening we go to Shibuya crossing.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual tour of just some of the many sights Japan has to offer.  This itinerary gives a taste of large cities, the countryside, culture and history, and modern Japan in just seven days. Although it’s a quick tour, it will be possible to cover this much ground once travel starts again. In the meantime, keep your travel dreams alive and experience Japan from afar.

Do you have any questions about travelling around Japan? Please feel free to contact me.

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For further information, the ebook Japan Just for You is a practical step-by-step guide to planning your trip to Japan, starting with developing your own personal trip concept. It’s now available on Apple, Amazon and Kobo, and other stores.