If I asked you to think about Japan, what would pop into your mind? Ninja. Bright neon lights. Sushi. Crazy TV shows. Pokemon. Power Rangers. I bet there’s one thing about Japan you don’t think of, that doesn’t even enter your mind: Japan as a honeymoon destination. That is a big mistake.
Let me tell you about a friend. Let’s call her Mary. Late last year she was getting married to her boyfriend of eight years, John. They’d met in university in Dublin and finally John popped the question. One night over dinner, the subject quickly turned to the honeymoon. It didn’t take long to discover it was a contentious issue.
|The truth comes out over dinner!|
Mary wanted relaxation, time on the beach, sun, sand, swimming and everything that entails. John on the other hand, he didn’t. He wanted to spend his honeymoon soaking in culture, big cities and history. But they couldn’t agree on where to go! Some destinations gave Mary everything she wanted, but left John feeling cold about the whole thing. Other destinations excited John, but left Mary wondering where the sand and surf would fit in.
I sympathised. Their honeymoon is the most important trip of their life. It should be big, bold, unique, unforgettable!!
Having lived, worked and gotten married in Japan, I knew what the country could offer, I knew it could be everything they wanted, everything they both dreamed of. So I did what any friend would do in this kind of situation; I helped. I organised, rang and booked. Japan was right for John and Mary.
|Tokyo, first stop on the honeymoon!|
First, they flew into Tokyo and spent three days there. On the second day we organised a private guide to show them some of the sights: Asakusa Kannon Temple, Meiji Jingu shrine, Shinjuku and their first authentic ramen lunch at a shop they’d seen on an Anthony Bourdain show. Tokyo is an amazing city, one that can’t be defined, can’t be described in a few words, sentences or paragraphs, it can only be experienced. Mary and John, they EXPERIENCED it.
After three days of full-on modern Japan, our intrepid honeymooners hopped on a bus and headed to Matsumoto, located high in the Japanese Alps. This is a completely different scene. An old city, with one of the few remaining authentic Japanese castles, they spent a few hours there before heading off to a nearby onsen town. Onsen are the incredible natural hot springs of Japan, and these hot springs are particularly special. The local monkey population love to come down and bathe in warm, natural spring waters at that time of year. But enough monkey business, on with the trip!
|Monkeys, chilling in the hot springs.|
Next up was Takayama is a 16th century city nestled in the Hida Mountains famous for it’s outstandingly preserved Edo period architecture. These are the kinds of streets that samurai and geisha would have walked, soaking in the local beauty. Takayama is the perfect place to get a feeling for a way of life that has all but disappeared from modern Japan. Of course John loved the history, but Mary loved it too! She got so caught up in the romanticism of samurai and geisha, of medieval Japan she was reluctant to leave Takayama!
|Edo period architecture in Takayama.|
But leave there did and from there, our honeymooning couple moved onto Kyoto, the place John was most excited about. Kyoto has 17 World Heritage sites, 1,600 Buddhist temples and about 400 Shinto shrines. History and culture doesn’t get much richer than this!! Here, John and Mary also experienced a traditional tea ceremony, served by a Maiko (a Geisha in training). There is nothing like this in the west, and even in Japan you need to know the right people to experience this. John, becoming enamoured with Japanese culture, had a million and one questions, which the Maiko was only happy to answer.
Then the trip took a more somber turn. Hiroshima. The city that needs no introduction; one of two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War was dropped on Hiroshima. In spite of this tragic past, Hiroshima has risen like a phoenix, and is a modern city, full of energy and life. John and Mary spend some time in the Peace Park and Museum, a poignant reminder of the tragedy that befell Hiroshima. John confided in me after that the experience made him realise how special Mary was, and how lucky he was to have her. Though not a typical honeymoon location, I think this experience has brought them closer together (is that even possible after marriage?).
|The A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima.|
At this point, I know what you’re thinking. Sure, yeah, John has had plenty of historical sightseeing, but what about Mary? She hasn’t had her sun and sand yet! Well, that came next. The couple set off for the Amami Islands, a string of 8 subtropical islands south of the mainland of Japan. Amami is blessed with transparent waters, bright coloured coral reefs and tropical fish. Very far removed from the bright lights and bustle of Tokyo, as well as the history and culture of Kyoto! The lucky couple partook in a range of activities here; diving, canoeing around mangrove lakes and a romantic lunch picnic on a secluded beach they had all to themselves. This wrapped up the trip and they headed back to Tokyo after an incredible 17 days of traditional and tropical Japan!
|View from the hotel, Amami Island.|
Mary and John were incredibly happy. They hadn’t considered Japan as a honeymoon destination, but they couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. Mary was surprised by the depth of Japanese culture and how much she enjoyed it, and John, well John was happy he got his way! I sincerely think this trip was the perfect start to their marriage. It worked for John and Mary, why not you? We’ve used John and Mary’s honeymoon as a template and created new Traditional & Tropical Japan Honeymoon. If you’re interested, why not check it out?
Would you consider Japan as a honeymoon destination? Did you visit Japan on your homeymoon? How about the destinations we mentioned, have you been there? If you are interested in any of our trips, feel free to comment below, or contact us for a free consultation.