Just quickly

Three minutes of internet time left… Am in Kyoto now, all by myself, which does make things more interesting, to say the least. Even more so after tomorrow, when I will move north, to Hokkaido, where things are a bit more rustic, as far as I can tell. But I am looking forward to this, after spending most of this week looking at impressive temple after beautiful park and pretty shrine… If I can get the hostels booked, that is. 🙂

Hope all of you are doing well, too. Thinking of you and missing you lots! Big hugs.


Still with Sabine and having a great time. We went to Mt. Aso yesterday, a volcano, which was pretty impressive, as I'd never been at a volcano crater before.

It's really nice here in Kumamoto – Sabine is looking after me nicely and we cycle into town every day, on sightly rickety Japanese bikes, which makes it feel more like everyday life than traveling. It's fun, too, and I'll miss it when I move on tomorrow morning. I'll take the Shinkansen (the fast 'bullet train') up to Osaka, making a stop-over for a couple of hours in Hiroshima on the way. I'll stay in Osaka until Wednesday, making a couple of daytrips to the historic towns of Nara and Himeiji, then I'll move on to Kyoto.

As you can see, my plans are slowly taking shape – I'm planning ahead a little, so I can take advantage of the internet connection here. Missing you guys as well as many things from home, but Japan is very exciting and I'm looking very much forward to seeing more of it!

Finally – Japan!

Today I left Denise (), who had the doubtful pleasure of giving me my first introduction to Japan.

I was definitely grateful to have her around, because I had already gotten the first taste of the vast language gap that exists between Japanese and non-Japanese on the train ride from Osaka airport to Kurosaki, where Denise picked me up. It's really astonishing, how difficult even the simplest conversation becomes!

Other than that I'm having a great time – Japan is definitely different from anything I've ever experienced, not only from Europe but also from Singapore. Some things will take a while to get used to (like not being able to read the maps and street signs and the ever-present noise level), others I took to like a duck to the water. For example I've already been to several onsen (traditional hot spring baths) with Denise, which was absolutely fantastic for a spa-fan like me. 🙂

Now I'm in Kumamoto with Sabine () and am looking very much forward to learning and discovering more about this country!

In transit – Singapore/Osaka

Amy here updating for Eva! She should have reached Osaka by now, and on her way to Fukuoka by train. Internet accessibility might be intermittent, and she's probably out of contact by phone, seeing that the telcom system is different in Japan. Let's hope we can still hear from her soon though 🙂

Off to see the world again

Tomorrow morning I'll be off to Zurich airport with my parents, who'll see me off. First one week in Singapore, visit my friend Amy (), then on to Japan, where I'll meet Denise () and Sabine () as well as travel around the country by train. I've been very excited all week – and incredibly busy. But now I'm mostly ready and can't wait to get started!

My mobile won't work in Japan, so don't text or call me after the first week. But you can also always reach me via email, as I'll try to check it at least semi-regularly. As always, this travel log will be the place to keep up to date with what I'm doing as well as see my photos, once I'm back home.

Satellite view of Japan

Tentative Japan itinerary

Only a bit more than a month until I leave. Slowly I'm getting a better idea of where to go in the four weeks I'll be in Japan. I have to decide some things before I leave, because things like the Japan RailPass and air passes have to be purchased before entering the country.

One thing is clear: It will be insanely expensive, but I just don't want to miss anything. After all, who knows when/if I'll be back.

Tentative itinerary:
Zurich – Singapore – Osaka – Okinawa – Fukuoka – Kumamoto – Hiroshima (Miyajima) – Himeiji – Nara – Ise – Kyoto – Hiraizumi – Tono – Kakunodate – Hakodate – Noboribetsu (Poroto Kotan) – Nibutani – Sounkyo Onsen – Sapporo – Tokyo – Nikko – Fuji – Tokyo – Zurich

I might have to skip some of these destinations for time reasons, but this is what I have in mind so far.

Random useful notes:
Currency conversion: 1000 JPY = ~12 CHF
Time: Sept 10 – Oct 17 (Singapore: Sept 11 – Sept 16)
Railpass 21 days: 57 700 JPY (650 CHF)
Star Alliance Japan Airpass: 11 550 JPY/flight (130 CHF)
Flights: Osaka – Okinawa; Okinawa – Fukuoka; Sapporo – Tokyo
People to visit: (Kitakyushu city), (Kumamoto)

Japan trip – points of interest

Currently I'm completely enthralled by my new Rough Guide for Japan. I'm planning on going there this October, maybe with my brother (who's a big Japan fan), but definitely at least part of the time alone.

My dream would be to spend four weeks traveling the country and one week or so on a stop-over somewhere else in Asia, maybe Bangkok or Singapur. The problem is money – according to XE.com, 1000 yen are a bit over 11 Swiss francs at the moment, which would make it very expensive. I'm not sure yet I can afford it, actually, since even the cheapest youth hostel is about 3000JPY/night. We'll see, I guess.

But I thought I'd keep track of my 'must-see' destinations here, just so I get an idea how much time is realistic… This will be edited/updated as I learn more.

Attractions are listed from North to South, as you can see on the Lonely Planet map:


– Sapporo
– Historical Village of Hokkaido
– Nibutani (Ainu village)
– Daisetsu-zan National Park (Sounkyo)

Northern Honshu
– Kakunodate (samurai town)
– Tono valley
– Hiraizumi (Motsu-ji temple)

Tokyo area
– Nikko
– Kawagoe
– Mitaka (Ghibli museum)
– Mount Fuji