Ride the Shinkansen. This ultramodern and fast eel-like train will take you almost anywhere in Japan, with stewardesses onboard like in airplanes (try the extra sweet iced coffee!). Booking a ticket can be tricky, as sales offices’ employees won’t necessarily speak (understandable) english and the vending machines won’t clearly inform you need both a fare ticket and a seat reservation (on separate coupons) to board the train… If you travel coach, be aware of the 2-3 seat configuration. Also note that rail passes are not accepted on the fastest trains (mainly known as Nozomi trains).
Chase Mount Fuji. Easy? Nope. The (very) shy mountain is often surrounded by thick clouds and weather changes a lot around there… Even on a day with clear blue skies there is no guarantee of seeing it. So check weather forecasts until the last minute. The easiest way to see it is from the Shinkansen train (between Tokyo and Kyoto for example). If you are travelling westbound, seat on the right side of the train (and on the left side if you are heading east). The moment may only last a few seconds before the clouds cover it again, but it really is worth a try.
Each spring Japanese people enjoy world’s most beautiful cherry blossom, due to the high amount of cherry trees in the country. This magnificent phenomenon usually takes place in the Tokyo/Kyoto area between mid-March and mid-April. The exact moment varies from year to year according to meteorological conditions, and this year it’s just about to begin now! The peak bloom is short and intense, so everything is about timing. Thepickytraveller was there in 2015.
During his last trip to Asia, thepickytraveller visited Hong Kong and Singapore. Whilst Singapore is more diverse in many aspects (see my post), Hong Kong definitely is one of the world’s big cities to be visited and offers what could be described as a smooth approach to China for the Westerner tourist.
The easiest way to discover this Singapore’s special island is to reserve a few hours for the purpose before your flight departing from Changi airport. Singapore’s international airport is famous for its different one-of-a-kind attractions (like an open-air cactus garden with views of the planes on the tarmac or a butterfly garden), but you should rather skip them for a visit to the authentic and well preserved Pulau Ubin Island.