University of Wisconsin–Madison

6 Cities in 12 Days

I was super duper excited for my family to come, and I took the hour long express train to the international Osaka airport to meet them! We had a very busy 12 days, packed with many shinkansens (bullet trains) going between Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto, Hakone, Nara and Hiroshima. You might be thinking “sure that’s a lot of cities but Japan isn’t that big,” but it still takes three hours going 160 miles an hour via shinkansen to travel from Osaka to Tokyo! Yet, shockingly, we still managed to see the major attractions of each city. I have been to most of these cities before so I had a rough idea of where to go and what trains to take (that and a lot of amateur travel bloggers and Google Maps).

We started in Osaka, mainly because that’s where I work so it’s an easy starting base, and from Osaka we spent two days in Tokyo where we managed to cram in six sights in a day AND have time to spare. My family came at the perfect time, because cherry blossom season just started in time for our adventures!

On our next stop to Hakone, the weather took a turn for the worse, with plummeting temperatures and rain for three days straight. This meant Hakone, known for its picturesque views of Mount Fuji, was a bit of a bust since it was too cloudy to see the mountain, but the views were still spectacular.

We spent the evenings sipping sake in the onsen (hot springs), a classic combination Hakone is famous for, and in the morning we forged through the wet weather and waited for the Hakone train back to the shinkansen station (Hakone is a bit out of the way from other cities and would be much more manageable by car, which many Japanese families do).

The next stop was Kyoto, and I can never get enough of Kyoto.I brought my family to many of the same sights I had already seen but still felt like it was my first time seeing all the temples (and also a monkey park!).

Arashiyama Monkey Park

While in Kyoto, we did a day trip to Nara where the deer vying for food gave my mother quite a fright and she refused to feed them. We finished up with a night in Hiroshima before returning to Osaka where I showed my family Osaka Castle Park. By the time we had returned to Osaka, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom and so we spent a wonderful afternoon wandering around the park looking at the cherry blossoms and climbing Osaka Castle for a beautiful view of Osaka.

The last night we went out for curry, and I’m sitting here right now writing as if they have already left, but their flight isn’t until tomorrow morning. But, I work tomorrow so I can’t see them off as I’d hoped. Despite the classic family arguments that are inevitable when travelling, I am feeling a loneliness creep back that I haven’t felt this strongly since the first few weeks of being here. Everything is great in Japan, but being with my family for the past week and then suddenly going back to my usual routine brought back some homesickness I thought I had left long behind. I guess it goes to show me that no matter how far or how long I am away from my family, that I’ll still miss them.

Well, I need to get some sleep, but until next time!