As the end of my work at Gaba approaches (my last day is Sunday 29th June), I've started making plans for July and the first week of August. I fly home to Britain on Thursday 7th August so from now I have less than two months left in Japan.
Unexpectedly, one of my friends has decided to fly out to see me for a week at the beginning of July. That should be really great, I never thought I'd have two visits! I'll have to decide where to take him in Tokyo.
After that, I'm going to travel around Japan for one week. It's not a long time but accommodation is so expensive, I need to keep the cost down. I find the south and west of Japan much more interesting than the east and north, as I think most people do, so that's where I'll go.
At the moment, I'm booking hotels in the places I want to visit. My plan is to take the Shinkansen all the way from Tokyo to Kyushu (九州) and stay in Beppu (別府) (a hot spring town in the northern Kyushu prefecture of Oita) for two days. That way I should be able to relax in an onsen hot spring (温泉) and see a real beach! I also have a penpal who lives near there, who I hope to meet.
Then I plan to move back up the country, going to Hiroshima (広島) for two nights, giving me a chance to see the Peace Park, and nearby Miyajima island. Miyajima (宮島) is one of the three great sights to see in Japan, so I'm really looking forward to that.
Then I will spend three nights in Kyoto, giving me a chance to explore the Kansai region. I've been to Kyoto before, but didn't see everything I wanted to, so I will try to get to Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) and Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine (伏見稲荷大社) while I'm there, and also visit Nara (奈良), Kobe (神戸), and Himeji Castle (姫路城).
After that, I will head back to Tokyo on the Shinkansen.
That's the plan anyway! I hope rainy season will have finished by then, although I know that in the middle of July, Japan is very hot and humid, so I don't expect to be comfortable.
I have heard that the Inland Sea area near Hiroshima and Okayama is relatively cool and fresh in summer though, so I hope that's true.
It should be good! A fitting crescendo to my working holiday.