The Iya Valley Vine bridges Japan

There are some places in the world that are hard to believe until you actually see them. The vine bridges in the Iya Valley are like something out of Indiana Jones. There were at least 13 bridges in the old days used to cross the river in the valley but today only 3 of them remain. All of the 3 are in excellent condition though. The biggest (45 meters long and 14 meters above the rushing water below) and the most popular to cross (probably because it is the easiest to get to) is the Kazurabashi Bridge. I expected my 7 year old to refuse to cross but he surprised me by crossing faster than I did! And by the time we go to the third bridge he wasn’t even holding on!

The other 2 vine bridges are further up in the valley and sit side by side. They are often referred to as the husband and wife bridges or the male and female bridge. In Japanese they are Oku-Iya Kazurabashi. Both of these bridges are again in excellent condition and are fantastic to walk over. Close to them is the Wild Monkey Bridge, which is a wooden cart suspend on a rope over the river and with this one you climb inside and pull yourself across the river.

I cannot recommend this part of Japan enough, it truly is fantastic. I have to say though it is probably much easier to visit if you can hire a car and drive around. Which isn’t for those scared of driving as the road are quite narrow with passing areas along the way. Still it is worth the effort. If you do go I also highly recommend the Kazurabashi Ryokan. It is a truly amazing experience in itself. It even has a cable car up to the top of the hill to use the Onsen baths. There is also a foot spa and a gorgeous tea house up there with beautiful views. Truly amazing!

Japan is just awesome!

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Fukui Dinosaur Museum Japan

My son likes dinosaurs but he doesn’t love them so I never thought to visit this museum, that is until my daughter got a little older and we realised that she didn’t like dinosaurs she loves them! So we, not surprisingly, came out of this museum with a few more mini dinosaurs to take home with us. (They have a great little shop)

This museum is worth the effort it takes to get to it. We went by Shinkansen from Tokyo and then rented a car as we were staying around the area for 2 nights. The museum is impressive, it has a lot in it to see and we spent almost 3 hours there, which is unusually long for us in a museum but we all enjoyed it. The space is big too so that it doesn’t seem too crowded. After seeing the area and the ski resorts near by I would imagine that it would be a great place to go for a skiing weekend and then one morning go to the museum. Lake Biwa, which is Japans biggest lake is close to here too.

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Nagano | Japan snow monkeys | Jigokudani

High up on the travel itinerary list for anyone coming to or living in Japan is to see the Japanese Snow Monkeys. It took us a while to get there but finally we did. I have to say though that we went when the snow was already gone and that was unfortunate because I think the experience would have been better if there had been snow and it was cold. I was both thrilled by the experience and disappointed. It is amazing to see the monkeys and they are so used to people that you are literally just walking among them and they run around you as though you don’t even exist, to see them soaking in the hot spring is very cool and I bet it would be fantastic in the snow. The walk to the park is also nice and not in anyway difficult (even with 2 smallish kids). Once you get to the area it is however not quite as pretty, there are a lot of pipes everywhere and looks unnatural, I am sure that if it were covered in snow it may look better. For this reason I highly recommend that if you travel to see the monkeys try to do it when its cold and with a beautiful flutter of snow.

We also got to see some beautiful shrines in Nagano while we were there. All of them worth visiting. Togakushi Shrine, which is made up of 3 separate shrine complexes was amazing, especially the giant tree lined path to Okusha, the shrine at the top. You will also see a few photos of food snuck in the slideshow, I am a huge fan of Japanese food and its one of my favourite things about travelling in Japan. Delicious!

Here is a short 15 second video of the snow monkeys that I made for Instagram. They were also used in the longer video on Japan in the vimeo account.

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a morning in Meji

I have been to Meji Jingu many times now and I am never going to tire of it. I am a little addicted to the place. I think I may put a book together just for Meji as I have a pretty large collection of photographs from there now and it would be a really good excuse to go back far too many times more.

Morning in Meji:

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Wisteria

Spring is a photographers dream in Japan, not only do you get the cherry blossoms which are spectacular but you get Wisteria blossoming everywhere too.

There are quite a few places you can travel to to see the Wisteria I chose to go to Ashikaga Flower park and Kameido Tenjin Shrine. Ashikaga was by far the most crowded, I have never seen so many people in a flower park before but the Wisteria there is impressive especially the 150+ year old trees, they are so well looked after.

Kameido Tenjin Shrine also has very impressive Wisteria but not the colour variety that you will find in Ashikaga. It is however much easier to get to and it is in a nice location with the sky tree behind it and it has 2 red bridges within the garden which are very photogenic.

If you just want to see Wisteria I would recommend the Ashikaga flower park because of the amount and variety that it has, but if you don’t have a lot of time and are not able to travel that far you cannot go wrong with Kameido. I cannot choose between the two and definitely think its worth seeing both if you can.

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Its a very green season

I have been in Japan for a few years now but I never remember noticing the green summer as much as I have this year. I am a Instagram addict and when I look over my gallery the different seasons are so apparent by the colours in my feed, winter looked so blue and spring looked so pink and now the summer is so so green! This country is gorgeous and it is not the concrete jungle that you would expect it to be, there is nature everywhere!

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