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:

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:

And we also visited the coast at various points, starting in the North where the 2011 tsunami hit hard:

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!!

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!