Part 5: Blue seascapes & golden leaves

December 15, 2017

As promised yesterday, here is the last part of my Japan journey. First, we returned to the Nara prefecture for a hiking day in the beautiful mountains of Yoshino. Then, we went on an exploration and relaxation trip to the sea near Kobe.

31th of October 2017: Yoshino
Mount Yoshino is Japan's most famous cherry blossom spot with over 30,000 trees. They are spread on the whole mountain at different heights, allowing to enjoy the blossom during almost a month.
It's actually the wrong season to visit this place, but before becoming a big tourist attraction, Yoshino was and is still an important spiritual place, one of the many starting points of the holy Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail. Furthermore, countless maple trees are also present on the mountain and the changing of the colors is just starting!

After a really long journey (almost 3 hours...), we begin our hike at Shimo Senbon (lower area) at the base of the mountain. The ropeway isn't working, but it takes only 30 min. on foot on a pleasant path to arrive in town.

It stretches into the Naka Senbon (middle) area, the main touristic part with most of Yoshino's famous temples and shrines. As we're off-season, we can stroll around, without the usual mass-tourism crowd and enjoy the many beautiful views on the mountains.

Leaving Naka Senbon, the path becomes steeper and less touristic. We walk until the 3rd of the 4 areas of Yoshino, Kami Senbon, and visit a very authentic and atmospheric place, the Mikumari Shrine.

We planned to continue up to the 4th area, Oku Senbon, but as it's already 3 o'clock, we have to return to the valley.

Yoshino is such a gorgeous place, I can't wait to return there with my customers in May 2018!

2nd of November 2017: Akashi

For our last trip, change of scenery. After the beauties of Nara mountains, we travel to Akashi, a small town west of Kobe, on the shores of the Seto Inland Sea. The weather is fantastic, no cloud on the horizon. It's great after so much rain!

First, we stop a few stations before Akashi and stroll on the coast, admiring the spectacular Kaiyô suspension bridge which connects the main island of Honshu with Awaji Island.

Then, we continue to Akashi and visit there the remains of the castle. I didn't expect anything of this place, but it's really gorgeous. The ruins are are situated in a big and beautiful garden in the midst of the modern town.
Near the entrance, we admire a superb chrysanthemum and bonsai exhibition and go then to the town center.

There, we stroll in the 400 years old shopping arcade of Uo-no-Tana and go for lunch to a famous Akashiyaki (round dumpling filled with octopus) restaurant. It's good, but we know a better Akashiyaki place near Kumiko's mother home :-).
After a walk in the harbor district, we take the train and travel a little farther west. There, we follow a coastal trail back in the direction of Akashi. It's quite nice, but a little monotonous. Before traveling back to Osaka, we have the chance to admire a splendid sunset on the Seto Inland Sea.
 

So, that's the end of the Fall 2017 diary. See you in January 2018 for the latest news on the upcoming Japan Spring Journey. Have a nice Christmas time!

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