Autumn family holiday in Tokyo and Kyoto – Photo blog with East competition winner Adrian Furner

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Adrian Furner won our first-ever East photo competition prize – a luxury family holiday to Tokyo and Kyoto, combining highlights from Osaka and Nara. We’ve gathered a few of our favourite travel snaps from this Japan second-timer.

“Just a year after our first incredible trip, we are back in Japan! Although famous for its cities and technology, 70-80% is mountainous countryside, rich in nature and history. On our second trip to Japan, we knew we wanted to get a balance between the two.”

City life


“Friends who are regulars to Tokyo insisted that we should spend a Sunday afternoon in Yoyogi Park, where we picnicked among dancing rockabillies, skateboarding dogs, and full-on Frisbee tournaments.”

Rockabillies in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo ,JapanDog skateboarding in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

“We’re used to London’s crowds, but nothing could have prepared us for Shibuya’s famous crossing at its peak. The lights, noise, flashing billboard trucks, and of course the thousands of people who swarm across the crossing every 90 seconds really are an assault on the senses.”

 Shibuya crossing, Tokyo. Japan


“Having spent time in Tokyo, Kyoto feels almost village like both in scale and pace, albeit the size of a major UK city, and therefore is a welcome respite from the bright lights of Tokyo.”

Lady in kimono with umbrella crosses a road in KyotoViews at sunset from Kyomizo-dera, Kyoto, Japan

“Our hotel had offered us an opportunity to meet a Maiko (a trainee Geiko). On our first trip we had realised that Geiko and Maiko are actually quite rare and therefore we took the opportunity. Spending a short time with and being able to talk to the Maiko gave us a brief but rare glimpse into another world.”

Family holiday in Tokyo and Kyoto - The Furner family meet a Geiko in-training

“In Kyoto we targeted some of the city’s lesser-known sights (luckily there are many!) before combining two nearby cities into one day: Nara and Osaka.”


“Nara is a great day trip: from roaming deer (purported to be the messengers of the gods, which seems to give them full licence for mischief) to Todai-ji Temple, home to a giant bronze Buddha 15 metres tall.”

Great Buddha at Kotoku-in Temple, Kamakura, JapanTodai-ji temple, Nara, Japan


“If Nara is cultural immersion of a historical nature, Osaka is a full baptism into modern Japan; we finished the day surrounded by glowstick-waving men at a performance of the Japanese girl-band Kamen Joshi.”

Busy neon streets of Osaka, JapanJapanese girl-band Kamen Joshi in Osaka, Japan


Kyoto and the Kegon Falls

“The impressive thing about the fall colours in Japan is the variety of vibrant colours, with each tree contributing to a patchwork of colour.”

The Kegon Falls, Japan Family holiday in Tokyo and Kyoto - The Furner family exploring gardens in Kyoto, JapanEikan-do Temple in early Autumn, Japan

Japanese food

“Whilst we perhaps associate Japanese food with sushi, it is really varied and contributes to the higher than average life expectancy.”

Japanese noodle dish with lemon, spring onions and crabJapanese sweet stall with sugary lolliesJapanese sushi with tofuJapanese sushi with fishNikko Age Yuba Manju, Japan

“Our culinary highlight of the day was Nikko Age Yuba Manju. They consist of a red bean core surrounded by tofu, deep fried with a salty shell and only made in Nikko. They are simply addictive!”

Family holiday in Tokyo and Kyoto - Adrian Furner and his family in Japan
So the end of another great adventure in Japan. What has it taught us? Well firstly, we were right when we thought that we’d only just scratched the surface on our first trip. Secondly, it’s often the lesser-known places that provide the most memorable experiences. And thirdly, Japan is different in every season – and with two seasons done we just have to find a way of doing the other two!

For more photos and tales from Adrian’s family holiday in Tokyo and Kyoto, visit his blog.

Or watch their video:

East magazine cover


Adrian won his family holiday in Tokyo and Kyoto after entering a competition in East magazine. Keep up to date on our latest competitions and inspirational features by subscribing now. You’ll receive a copy three times a year and it’s absolutely free!

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