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PARTNER CONTENT FOR WEST JAPAN RAILWAY COMPANY


Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, has long been a crowd-pleaser with its beautiful shrines, gardens, tea houses and geisha flitting in the shadows. Any visit should include marvelling at the orange torii gates of the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, the sparkling Kinkaku-ji temple and the hilltop Kiyomizu-dera temple. Later, lose yourself in the cobbled streets of Gion, where artisans sell hand-made lacquerware, copper chazutsu tea caddies, pottery and delicate washi paper. Kyoto is also awash with top-notch dining,


from super soba noodle spots to Michelin- starred restaurants serving traditional multi-course kaiseki. There are also cool cafes, sushi joints, craft beer bars and hidden speakeasies. Don’t leave without sampling at least one steaming bowlful of tonkotsu pork broth ramen, a local favourite. Next is Nara, just 45 minutes on the


Miyakoji Rapid service from Kyoto. This is another wonderfully preserved ancient city, with no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the sprawling Horyuji Temple, one of the world’s oldest surviving wooden buildings. Nara is also home to more than 1,200 wild sika deer. Considered to be messengers of the gods in


the Shinto religion, the animals are allowed to wander freely around Nara Park and will happily eat from visitors’ hands. Lovers of the great outdoors should board the scenic Limited Express Thunderbird train and head north towards Kanazawa, a city backed by mountains and fronted by the Sea of Japan. Once there, purchase a one-day pass from Hokuriku Railroad and hop on the Kanazawa Loop Bus and Kenrokuen Shuttle bus, making stops at the Kenroku- en gardens, the Nomura Samurai House and the teahouse district of Higashi Chaya. Alternatively, there’s the Hanayome Noren tourist train, which makes two round-trips a day through some of Japan’s most striking mountain scenery, travelling from Kanazawa Station to the hot springs resort of Wakura Onsen. The train’s design was inspired by the area’s traditional arts, with a shiny red livery and pretty interiors incorporating Wajima-nuri lacquerware, Kaga Yuzen dyed fabric and Kanazawa gold leaf. Toyama is well worth a visit. Alongside


history, art and temples, the area is known for its 9,000ft-high peaks, part of the Japanese Alps. The best way to absorb majesty of these is on a train journey along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.


Essentials


Getting there: British Airways flies non-stop from Heathrow to Osaka Kansai on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. ba.com Getting around: JR-WEST has an intricate network of train and bus routes criss-crossing West Japan, providing an efficient way of getting around. Before you travel, order a JR-West Pass, offering unlimited travel on JR-West trains. westjr.co.jp


To find out more, visit westjr.co.jp


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