Jean-Christophe describes three of his favourite things about Japan, three prized highlights that he will treasure from his latest trip.
Take a Shinkansen train!
Taking the train in Japan is a journey in itself. The Shinkansen is the star of Japanese trains, a high speed bullet train that serves the whole country. A special part of each station is dedicated to the Shinkansen with its infallible punctuality. The platform is always the same and the carriage numbers are even written on the ground. It's a real pleasure to settle comfortably into its large seats that swivel to face the direction of travel. During the journey between Tokyo and Kyoto (from two and a half hours), I enjoyed an ekibento (a Japanese boxed meal) while contemplating the perfect silhouette of Mount Fuji, dark against the blue of the sky.
Bathe in an onsen
What I love most of all about Japan is being immersed into the contrasts of a society that is caught between ultra-modernism and the permanence of tradition. So it was a joy to dive into Japan's hot springs (in Hakone, for example, but they are scattered around the country). An authentic reflection of Japanese culture, the practice of bathing (the onsen) was a highlight of the trip. They can be visited alone or in a group, at a spa, a natural site or a private onsen like the one at my accommodation; you will be spoilt for choice.
Escape to Naoshima
I had the opportunity to stay at Benesse House on the island of Naoshima. This little island located in the Seto Inland Sea is entirely dedicated to modern art. Several museums and installations are scattered around the island with its bucolic atmosphere. Benesse House was built by the famous architect Tadao Ando, and is also a hotel where the small number of available rooms are well worth the detour. The inherent calm and the perfect lines of the architecture enhance the collection of artworks to be discovered nestled in the museum as if in the heart of the countryside.
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