After a day of onsen soaking in Beppu it was time to start heading north back towards Tokyo, but not without making a few more stops on the way. The first stop was Osaka, Japan’s second largest city.
I had originally planned to visit Himeji castle as a day trip from Osaka; however, while on the Osaka bound Shinkansen from Kyushu I was studying Google Maps (as I’m prone to do) and realized that my train would be stopping at Himeji. So, I cancelled my dedicated day trip plan and decided to visit the castle right then and there (cheers to efficiency!). With my Japan rail pass in tow it would be no problem to hop back on the next Shinkansen in a few hours and finish the trip to Osaka.
Travel Tip: Himeji castle is an easy 15 – 20 minute walk from the train station, so no need to stress about local bus transport when you arrive. I was travelling with my big backpack so also made use of the storage lockers they have at the station to avoid carrying it around the castle with me.
Having only spent two days in Osaka, I didn’t really experience much of what this modern, bustling city has to offer. It mostly served as a base for a day trip to Nara. That said, I did explore the city a bit and visited its castle, of course!
Nara (and surrounding areas) day trip
I met a great guy named Miłosz from Poland at my hostel in Osaka and we both wanted to visit Nara, so we decided to go together. But before we got to Nara we made a few memorable stops at some of Japan’s many UNESCO World Heritage sites and other important monuments.
Byōdō-in – a buddhist temple in the city of Uji in Kyoto Prefecture:
Ujigami Shrine – a Shinto shrine in the city of Uji (located near Byōdō-in):
Thirteen-storied pagoda (the largest stone pagoda in Japan), located in Tonoshima, on the Kamo River:
Todai-ji – a Buddhist temple complex located in the city of Nara:
Kasuga-taisha – a Shinto shrine located in Nara that’s famous for its many bronze lanterns, as well as the eerie stone lanterns leading up to it:
No visit to Nara would be complete without a couple obligatory photos!