I had wanted to visit Japan for some time, so when I saw a cruise offered on the Queen Elizabeth, circumnavigating the islands, I jumped at the chance.
The first port was Hakodate, and I took the shuttle bus from the ship into the town, adjacent to the bus depot, and there I was able to purchase a one-day pass for the local buses. The signs on the buses were in both Japanese and English and an English speaking adviser was on hand to help. The first stop was Fort Goryokaku, and then back on the bus to the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse District, with its shops, restaurants and harbour tours. From here it was a 10-minute walk up the base of the Ropeway and aerial tram to the summit of Mount Hakodate.
Our next port was Akita, and here I joined a ship's excursion to Kakundate Samuri District, as this was less accessible by public transport with the time available. Here the cherry blossom, or Sakura, was in full flower. After stopping for a local lunch, we continued around lake Tazawa before heading back to the ship where the eponymous Akita dogs waited to greet us.
Kanazawa, famed for its castle and the Kenroku-en gardens was next, and again public transport proved easy and efficient to use. Hundreds of children were on school trips to the castle and many were keen to practice their English. A short bus ride across the Asano river led to the Higashi Chayamachi, home of traditional tea houses where geishas still entertain.
Finally, back to Yokohama, where Mount Fuji was visible rising behind the city. As I was not heading to the airport, but intending to spend some time in Tokyo, I decided to opt for the shuttle provided from the ship into the city. Rather than struggle with my case through the metro, I took a cab to my hotel. Fortunately, the famed traffic jams weren't in evidence, so the fare didn't break the bank.
My next stop was the Senso-ji Temple, again with wall-to-wall people enjoying the food, the sights, and the shops, and paying their respects at the temple. It was lovely again to see so many in traditional dress. The parliament building, the original broadcast tower, and the Ginza shopping district completed my sightseeing. I'd highly recommend this for solo travelers, and wouldn't hesitate to go back. I would love to visit Kyoto, and go back to Hokaido to see the snow monkeys