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Part 2: An Unforgettable Honeymoon in Six Famous Japanese Cities

Newlyweds from Melbourne share their top moments from the last leg of their 16-day winter honeymoon, exploring Nara, Hakone, and Tokyo.



Sheron and Brian with deer in Nara.(©Sheron and Brian Tong | Instagram @briontheship)

Embarking on the second half of their journey, Sheron and Brian eagerly continue their honeymoon adventure in Japan. Having thoroughly enjoyed the cultural and culinary delights of Fukuoka, Kyoto, and Osaka, the couple set their sights on Nara, Hakone, and finally Tokyo.

4. Nara

Hasedera Temple

Hasedera Temple stands as the main temple of the Buzan sect of Shingon Buddhism, with its roots tracing back to the early 8th century. The construction of the present-day Main Hall, designated as a National Treasure, was sponsored by Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1645. Within the temple grounds are numerous Important Cultural Properties, including the Eleven-headed Kannon, which is the largest of its kind in Japan.

(©Sheron and Brian Tong | Instagram @briontheship)

Hasedera Temple is immortalized in classic Japanese literature and is mentioned in revered works such as The Pillow Book and Tale of Genji. The latter references the "Two Cedars" still located within the temple's precincts.

Beyond its cultural and literary significance, Hasedera Temple is celebrated as the "Temple of Flowers." Throughout the seasons, the temple's grounds are alive with vibrant hues of various flowers and trees. Among these, the peony stands out as the temple's iconic flower, reaching its peak in April to May.

"The temple itself felt mythical and peaceful. When you first enter, there is a staircase that feels like a spiritual experience as you walk up, preparing you for the rest of the temple. We were blown away by the size of the place and the fiery autumn foliage that it was surrounded by." — Sheron and Brian

5. Hakone

Kitanokaze Saryou 

Nestled in the picturesque Ashigarashimo area of Hakone, this adults-only ryokan offers the epitome of luxury, making it perfect for honeymoons and anniversaries. The elegant interior is a harmonious blend of traditional Japanese aesthetics and modern design.

Each of its ten rooms features open-air baths with milky hot spring water sourced directly from Owakudani Onsen. Additionally, a larger open-air bath can be reserved for free.

"The private onsen in our room was the perfect feature for our honeymoon. The privacy and amazing service really took our stay to the next level, and the food we had here was excellent, a mixture of east and west (dinner specifically. Breakfast was traditional)" — Sheron and Brian

(©Sheron and Brian Tong | Instagram @briontheship)

Hakone Sightseeing Cruise

The cruise has become an essential part of the Hakone experience. Three "pirate ships" take travelers on either a one-way or roundtrip journey across Lake Ashi, offering a 360-degree view of the beautiful surroundings.

A highlight of the cruise is the view of Mount Fuji and the "floating" torii gate of Hakone Shrine, especially enchanting at sunset. The cruise also passes by significant historical landmarks, such as the ruins of Hakone Sekisho. Established by the Tokugawa Shogunate, it served as a security checkpoint to monitor travelers to and from Edo, former Tokyo.

"We heard that it is extremely rare to see a clear view of the top of Mount Fuji, especially later in the day, but we had the privilege of seeing it while on this cruise! This is a fun ride if you enjoy landscapes and photography. We also recommend First Class to avoid the crowd and to get unrestricted views." — Sheron and Brian

Hakone Tozan Train and Cable Car 

Together, the train and cable car provide access to most of Hakone’s key attractions. The train links Odawara and Gora, passing through the hot spring area of Hakone Yumoto, while the cable car connects Gora to Sounzan.

The Hayakawa Bridge, located between Tonosawa Station and Ohiradai Station, offers breathtaking views throughout the year. The area is particularly beautiful during the autumn foliage season.


In addition to the view, the Hakone Tozan trains are a treat for railway enthusiasts. The fleet includes a mix of new and vintage trains, preserving its nostalgic charm. One such train, the MoHa 1, began life as ChiKi 1 in 1919 and is still in service after numerous refurbishments.

(©Sheron and Brian Tong | Instagram @briontheship)

Although the cable car covers a mere 1.2 km (0.74 mi), it traverses an elevation difference of around 200m (656.2 ft). Ascending on the steep slope is quite an exhilarating experience. The interior of the car features a slanted staircase that matches the incline. The cable car terminus at Sounzan Station boasts a panoramic terrace that offers a view of the outer rim of the Hakone caldera and, on clear days, extends as far as Sagami Bay.

"Don’t expect a quick ride in and out of Hakone. This is definitely the scenic route which was especially beautiful because of the autumn season. As huge Wes Anderson fans, the vintage trains and cable cars were a charming surprise as there are no designated tickets for them since they are part of the normal fleet (unlike in many other cities/ train lines)." — Sheron and Brian

Hakone Open Air Museum

The Hakone Open-Air Museum, called the "Hakone Sculpture Museum" in Japanese, serves as a vibrant hub for the convergence of people, art, and nature. Established in 1969 by the Fujisankei Group, it holds the distinction of being Japan's first open-air museum.

(©Sheron and Brian Tong | Instagram @briontheship)

Located within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, the museum occupies expansive grounds spanning around 70,000 square meters (753474 sq ft). In addition to its outdoor sculptures, the Hakone Open-Air Museum features paintings from the 1970s onward, boasting a total of around 2,000 works.

(©Sheron and Brian Tong | Instagram @briontheship)

The museum's collection features sculptures by celebrated artists such as Henry Moore, Marta Pan, Tatsuya Sato, Pablo Picasso, and Giacomo Manzù. Notably, the museum pays a special tribute to Picasso with a dedicated exhibition space known as the "Picasso Pavilion."

"This is great for both art enthusiasts and casual goers! There were many family-friendly activities and scenic spots for photos. Instead of just looking at pieces, there were many interactive elements as well." — Sheron and Brian

6. Tokyo

Latte Art Mania Tokyo

Just a minute's walk from Gaiemmae Station is a cafe that calls its creations "drinkable art." Boasting award-winning baristas, Latte Art Mania is led by Kenta Baba, who has clinched the title of Japan's best latte artist four times. With its grayscale and black tones, the cafe emanates a chic aura fit for the upscale neighborhood.

Latte Art Mania is famous for its signature Black Latte, which uses bamboo charcoal to create contrast with the foam milk to elevate the design. Among Kenta's masterpieces is a heart entwined with a rose, which he creates before the customer's eyes.

"The latte art was indeed, beautiful, and the barista was super helpful and spoke rather good English. Although small, the cafe was modern and chic." — Sheron and Brian

Washi Paper Making Workshop 

At washi-making workshops, participants can learn the basic techniques of traditional wooden molds and tools to create Japanese paper. They also get to take their creations home. Sheron and Brian went to Ozu Washi in Nihonbashi.

Washi holds UNESCO recognition as an intangible cultural heritage. It is generally more pliable, durable, and workable compared to paper made from wood pulp. The raw materials in washi typically include hemp, paper mulberry, and Oriental paper bush. Top-quality washi has been used for preserving and repairing aged documents in libraries and museums. Washi can also be found in the daily lives of the Japanese, from lampshades and sliding shoji doors to certificates and crafts.

"The woman who conducted our workshop and taught us has been in the industry for 19 years, so she was extremely knowledgeable. The entire process was very hands-on and we had a lot of choices in the type of paper we could create (patterned, dyed, decorated, etc). At the end, we were shown a video of the intricate process of making washi paper commercially which gave us an added appreciation for the mastery and artistry required." — Sheron and Brian

Sheron and Brian hold up their very own patterned washi. (©Sheron and Brian Tong | Instagram @briontheship)

Special Mention: The Accidentally Wes Anderson Exhibition 

The exhibition has now moved on to London, but the experience was too special to go unmentioned. As the name suggests, the exhibition showcases photographs that capture unintentionally Wes Anderson-esque aesthetics found in real-world locations. Anderson, renowned for films like The Grand Budapest Hotel, is celebrated for his unique cinematic visuals, including a distinctive color palette, nostalgic atmosphere, and extravagance. Fans are hoping that the exhibition will embark on a second tour, perhaps making a stop in their city.

"The exhibition was surprisingly large with interactive elements and fun and engaging exhibition design. We especially enjoyed the train booth and hotel concierge!" — Sheron and Brian

(©Sheron and Brian Tong | Instagram @briontheship)


Author: Miruka Adachi

Photos and recommendations were provided by Sheron Cheung | Instagram @gaze.into.the.mirror and Brian Tong | Instagram @not.briantong. For more of their adventures, check their couple Instagram account @briontheship.

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