Travel Goals for 2015

The new year is here and so am I … though still not sure of what the latter half of 2015 holds. As I write this, my husband and I are waiting for word of our next move. Yes, after seven years in Japan, we may have to soon leave the archipelago we’ve called home for so much for our adult life. It makes me too heartbroken to even contemplate in concrete terms so until I have the information in hand, I’m blissfully pretending nothing will change. 🙂

But that means I might only have six or seven months this year to get in all of the traveling I want to do. And as time ticks down, isn’t it always the case that you want to cram in everything you haven’t already seen or done??

I did a pretty good job of hitting my goals for 2014 (more on that in a minute) and adding in a few destinations that weren’t even a glimmer in my mind last January. So what’s on the agenda for 2015? Well, here goes:

Matsue – I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been saying I want to go to Matsue since we moved to Kyushu in 2012 (and long before that too, actually). But here’s the thing. It is dang hard to reach, y’all. Trains, buses. flights … nothing gets me there from Kyushu in a reasonable amount of time. But I absolutely want to make it happen because I can’t leave Japan without having witnessed the Adachi Museum of Art’s garden, rated number one in the country for years. And with a castle and canals and a host of tempting food, it’s just a matter of finding the time.

Kinosaki Onsen – No secret that I am an onsen lover. What is surprising is that I have never taken the time, in all my trips to Kyoto, to pop up north to the Sea of Japan Coast to visit Kinosaki Onsen. I hear the willow-lined streets there are lovely but for me, a visit needs to happen in winter so I can both soak in an onsen while watching the snow and gorge myself on the crab that will be in-season. I very much see this goal getting checked off quite early this year.

Aomori – If I am around this summer, I vow to spend it in Aomori. I still want to witness the Neputa Festival in early August and enjoy a hike along the Oirase Stream, one of the prettiest places in all of Japan according to a friend of mine. Add to that the fact that I have never been that far north in Honshu (and should use that excuse to pop across to Hakodate in Hokkaido as well) and it definitely means that, if I am here, my summer travel plans are already set.

And in the meantime, I aim to fill my weekends with local trips, festivals and as much onsen hopping as I can. I already have a trip to Mt Koya on the books for the end of the month (SO excited!) and I’ll explore Yamaguchi Prefecture with my daughter in tow in February. Who knows what will catch my eye along the way. Any suggestions?? Chime in below!!

7 thoughts on “Travel Goals for 2015

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  1. Can’t say it’s going to be 2015, as I am sitting here in Australia writing this. Matsue yes. Kino saki, probably some thought now.

    Should I get to Japan this year Yamagata might be the go for a few days, then up the centre to Kakunodate and Nyuto Onsen.

    Although flying into Narita is the usual way in, next trip I will avoid Tokyo. Is it wrong to say that?

    1. Oh, I’d love to hit Nyuto Onsen as well, Tony. But now I am thinking Tohoku in the autumn or winter would also be lovely, to take advantage of snow falling on the rotemburo. There just aren’t enough weekends and my parental duties are calling! :/

      I don’t think it’s wrong to avoid Tokyo at all, especially Narita. (Haneda IS starting to handle more international traffic though and it’s so much more convenient.) If you’ve already seen the city a few times, there is so much else you can explore. Fukuoka Airport is now Japan’s third busiest and that opens up all of Kyushu to you. KIX is very user friendly as well, and so easy to get to Kyoto, Osaka and further afield from there. I love Tokyo, don’t get me wrong, but there is SO much else to see here. Why repeat yourself if you don’t have to?

  2. Have you been to Hagi? I was seriously impressed with my recent visit there. I only planned one day but wished I had 2. There is an amazing amount of Edo Period architecture and the castle town is superbly preserved. If you are a pottery fan, Hagi is famous for it’s Hagi Yaki pottery as well. Matsue – was a nice town. I can’t comment on the Adachi Museum, but the castle, samurai homes, Lafcadio Museum, etc were very nice. Kinosaki Onsen – didn’t do it for me. One onsen town is pretty much like another and there are better than Kinosaki. Aomori – Oirase was horrible. Both my wife and I felt terribly disappointed and betrayed. Look at it on a map. You’ll see the stream is about 2 meters from the road which is full of cars trying to drive by and get a look at the famous stream. The walking path is full of busloads of tourists taking pictures of other tourists taking pictures of the stream. Maybe if you stayed at the nearby Youth Hostel and went first thing in the morning on a weekday in the offseason you could enjoy it but forget any weekend. We stayed at the Youth Hostel and while complaining about being disappointed an older Japanese couple told us about Sukaya Onsen nearby. This place was AWESOME. Climb the mountain (Hakkoda) from the onsen and back down and then take a soak in the onsen. (We actually ran into that older couple on the mountain trail the following day) Stay overnight in the onsen if you can. You won’t regret it. Kakunodate in nearby Akita is also a highly recommendable Tohoku destination.

    1. Thanks for all of the recs, JCastle! It’s funny you mention Hagi. I am actually heading to Hagi in February with friends, swinging through Yamaguchi on the way (and hopefully hitting Tsuwano as well). Aside from Iwakuni and Shimonoseki, I really haven’t seen much of western Honshu (west of Hiroshima, that is) so it’s time to remedy that.

      Kinosaki Onsen does have me a bit worried. I am a HUGE fan of Kurokawa Onsen here in Kumamoto and frankly, it”s really hard to find a town to even come close to matching that. I have the feeling Kinosaki will be too commercial for me but as it’s an onsen that’s easily accessible for people visiting Kyoto, I figure I ought to check it out for potential future clients.

      Hmmm, Oirase stream does look rather close to the road, doesn’t it? Pity. Al of the pictures look so lovely. I still would love to hit the Neputa festival though. And Sukaya Onsen isn’t on my radar at all. I’ll have to check it out – thanks! There’s actually a number of things in Tohoku and the northern Kanto region that I want to add to my list but there is a chance we might be extending in Tokyo for one more year. If so, that changes EVERYTHING. 🙂

  3. Compared to Kurosawa, Kinosaki will only disappoint. If you combine the overnight stay at Kinosaki with a day trip to Izushi, it could be worthwhile. Izushi was a nice quaint “Little Kyoto” historic town. That’s actually what I did. I got to Kinosaki in the late afternoon, hit a couple onsen, dinner, more onsen, then left the next morning right after breakfast for Izushi and spent the day there.

    Tsuwano was OK, but I thought it was rather overrated compared to nearby Hagi. The castle ruins at the top of the mountain (my obvious destination) were quite nice.

    Sorry, that should be Sukayu onsen, not Sukaya. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of it.

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