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As a final stop en route to Kansai airport, where we’ll bid an extremely sad farewell to this beautiful and very special country, we stopped one night in downtown Osaka and didn’t know what hit us!! The 2nd largest city in the country, it greets you with how you expect modern Japan to be: bright neon lights, more people than you can imagine on the streets (think Oxford Street multiplied by 100 or more!!), giant screens flashing at every angle, robots in shops, and loud announcements over tannoys, shops, malls, restaurants, pedestrian crossings, you name it, but on first appearances and in such a short stay it’s totally different to everywhere else we’ve been (including Tokyo).

The sprawling mass of urbanisation gives no clue to the stunning landscape surrounding it, unlike other cities like Kyoto and Hiroshima where you can see mountains around you all the time.

Thank goodness for mini sake and red wine by our hotel’s outdoor fountain! By the way, this is our first and only hotel stay in Japan, and we would without a doubt recommend using airbnb or homestays as this is how we’ve immersed ourselves in residential areas and therefore the culture of Japan, making a much richer experience.