With our amazing big Toyota van, over the past 2 weeks we have been slowly making our way towards warmer climates here in Japan. It worked – we went from 0 degrees in the mountains all the way to 20 degrees in the coast where we are now!
Japan has to be the easiest country in the world to travel by van. We got lucky to find a very cheap rental in a little shop in Yamagata, which is the hardest part. Then we equipped our van for about ~$50 at a second hand store, where everything is perfectly new and beautiful: mattress, bedding, little stove, some pots and dishes. There is a huge network of free roadside stations for parking at night, sometimes located in very scenic spots, with toilets, little shops, and sometimes free internet. There are convenience stores everywhere, where not only you can get amazing cooked food but also find pristine clean toilets that will wash your bum if you ask (Japanese technology!). And the best part is that there are tons of onsens (hot source baths), either free or accessible for a little fee of ~$5 (up to $10 for very nice ones like spas). So we have been sampling all the best onsens of the country and creating our own private ranking hehe 😛
We crossed mountains, where the autumn foliage was incredibly beautiful, and the volcanic lakes had surreal colours:
On the road in the mountains
Hot springs in the mountains
Walk around the volcanic “5 colour-lakes”
They all have a different crazy colour due to volcanic minerals
A koala I found in the woods
Walking in the marsh
Way through the marsh
School field day near the volcano
The perfect volcano
A dam (no this is not photoshop!!)
An onsen (hot source) village
Getting ready to jump into our hot bath near the river
The outdors bath had an amazing milky colour
A secret shot at an outdoors hot source… no naked guys in this pic 🙁
Building our own private onsen on the riverside!
Cute mountain village of Shirakawa-go
Temples of Nikko
Traveller protector gods line the road
Some lost their head, but Cesar suggested a solution
Local ladies had fun with the knitting!
We also visited very nice little cities like Matsumoto, Takayama and Kanazawa, that still have whole neighbourhoods of traditional wooden Japanese houses and lots of temples:
Takayama – entrance to the temple
Riverside in Kanazawa
Kanazawa garden – teahouse
Crazy thick windows
Sake or Coca-Cola for you today?
Yayoi Kusama flower garden 🙂
In the museum of Noh in Kanazawa
Entrance to the temple in Kumano Hongu
Cesar loves to bang the bells in the temples…
Crazy thatched roof made of little pieces of wood
A temple with legs
And we also visited the coast at various points, starting in the North where the 2011 tsunami hit hard:
In the area devastated by the 2011 tsunami – only foundations and bent trees left
A huge 4m-high protective wall on the beach
Looks like they recently made the wall even higher
On the other side, nothing left but a memorial to the victims.. i guess no-one wants to live here anymore…
Matsushima bay nearby – protected from the tsunami by the natural formations
In the Kii peninsula south of Kyoto – looks like Norwegian fjords!
Seaside village market
Camping spot on the seaside
Officially arrived in the south – there are palmtrees!!!
Chilling in our cozy little home
Bonus picture – japanese high-tech toilets in the roadside station
It warms the seat, washes and dries the bum, gives a massage and serves coffee… Haha well almost all of the above!
We had a very fun weekend in Nagoya, where we made some nice friends. In this area there is a big Brazilian-Japanese community – mostly descendants of Japanese people who emigrated to Brazil before the war, and now came here to find jobs. An unexpected mix of cultures! Aaaand… we even found forró!!
Trying Nagoyan specialities at lunch with Miyuki, a friend of a friend and therefore our new friend 😀
Dancing the Halloween evening away at a forro party!
New forro friends – Sergio and Larissa 😀
Portuguese is spoken at this phone shop! Cesar said the guy had a funny japanese accent 😀
Brazilian veggies available at the supermarket
And now we are headed to Kyoto and then even more South, all the way down to Kyushu for another couple of weeks. Japan has been full of contrasts and surprises so far, and we are sure there will be more!