Vine Bridges of the Iya Valley

Has there ever been a place you’ve dreamed of going to for years? You’ve seen it in pictures, you’ve read about it, you’ve heard about it from other travellers… but you just haven’t been able to get there yourself. Continue reading “Vine Bridges of the Iya Valley”

Hello, Autumn!

The singing and the dancing die away
as cooling breezes fan the pleasant air,
inviting all to sleep
without a care.

– from “Autumn” by Vivaldi

What better soundtrack is there to describe the changes through the seasons than Vivaldi’s most famous concertos? I played the violin for about 10 years – until I was 16-17 years old – and really wish I still played regularly. My violin is at my parents’ home, so I have to make do with playing the ‘air violin’ whenever I feel the urge! I remember practicing Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ many times when I was younger – as challenging as they are to play, it’s fun to get swept away with the music!

Kyoto, 2012

We had a relatively mild summer in Tokyo this year – I think I remember it being pretty hot and humid way back in June just before the rainy season started, but apart from that, it’s been surprisingly bearable! Just in the past few days, it’s started to get chilly – always the first sign of autumn! And that got me excited for the next few months! Autumn is my favourite season for hiking, and possibly my favourite season for fashion. Bring on scarves and knee-high boots!

Around this time last year, I wrote a post on the places I wanted to go to for autumn leaves viewing (called 紅葉 koyo in Japanese). My ‘Autumn Mission’ took me to different parts of inner Tokyo – like Shinjuku Park and temples around Setagaya, as well as Showa Memorial Park in Tachikawa (western Tokyo) and the World Heritage temples in Nikko (2 hours north of Tokyo). It was fantastic to witness all of those beautiful places!

So this year, I’m back with even more eagerness to get out there! There are a few places I didn’t get round to seeing in Tokyo last year, for example:
Meiji Jingu Gaien, famous for its grand avenue of yellow gingko trees.
Koishikawa Korakuen, a stunning garden next to Tokyo Dome.
Rikugien Gardens, which also has night time ‘light ups’.

Outside of Tokyo, I have 3 places which I will 100% try to get to this year!
Kurobe Gorge, Toyama. After going to Tateyama in the Northern Alps earlier this year, it’s been my goal to go back during autumn. There’s a famous scenic train called the Torokko train which winds its way through the gorge. Lots of hiking, clear rivers and a few onsens (hot springs). It’ll be a great weekend trip!

Kurobe Gorge Torokko train. Image from

Hananuki, Ibaraki. On the east coast of Japan, a couple of hours north of Tokyo, is the Hananuki Gorge. A picture of the suspension bridge leading us into a canopy of red and orange is what first caught my eye a couple of years ago. It looks like a perfect overnight getaway from Tokyo.

Tsuchitake Bridge in the Hananuki Gorge. Image from

Miyoshi, Shikoku. This place has been the highest on my list for the longest! I’ve never been to the island of Shikoku, I guess it’s because I’ve always thought it’s not easy to get to, and once you’re there, you really need your own car to get around. Since I got my Japanese driver licence earlier this year, and I’ve discovered I can get there on an overnight bus, there’s nothing stopping me now! I’ve always wanted to walk across the ‘vine bridges’, made out of actual vines which stretch across the gorges. There’s also lots of good hiking, food, and scenery which I don’t think you can get anywhere else in Japan. Can’t wait!

Yoshino River cruises. Image from