My trip was a mix of city trip and nature, and I enjoyed discovering the great variety of what Japan has to offer. I highly recommend not only spending time in the big cities, but also to get out into nature, because there are some beautiful landscapes and views from the mountains that will reward you.
Japanese cities often seemed very grey to me. The exception was Tokyo that was very different from the other places I visited, and the shopping street of Osaka, that was bright because of all the neon signs everywhere. Generally I found them to be inspiring and not inspiring at the same time. It’s hard to explain, but the cities often had a very dull flavour in my eyes. What stood out were the temples, zen gardens and places to escape the grey. Often it was very quick to get into nature by train, so it didn’t really feel like being in huge cities.
One of the evenings I spent in Yokoshima to attend the Smart Illuminations, which is an outdoor festival that lights up one of the harbour parks with light installations. It was fun to see how artists approached the topic, and what was possible to try out. I even painted with lights, which was pretty cool, but of course it didn’t last.
Visiting shrines and hiking in the Japanese alps were a total contrast to grey skies, and I found it fascinating to discover the nature. I later discovered that there is a bear warning in the Alps, but luckily I did not encounter any bears throughout the trips. It seems that Japanese do wear a bell on their backpacks when they go hiking.
Especially the green nature that I experienced during rainy weather made me wonder that Pokemon or imaginary creatures like Totoro actually live in Japan. It does not surprise me anymore that films like My Neighbour Totoro were made, because the landscapes are just like they are in the film. It can be a be spooky and gloomy from time to time, especially when the fog rises up into the mountains, so it’s totally plausible to imagine these stories happening here.