Traveling to the ancient land of traditions, unique culture, mesmerizing landscapes, rich dishes, and numerous historical treasures for the first time? Well, before you find yourself lost in translation, consider preparing ahead to make the most of your voyage.
Japan is popular for its modern dynamic cities perfectly blended with rooted customs from the past. Located on the eastern edge of the Asian continent, this proud nation is embellished by its four largest islands, along with the Ryukyu Island Chain on which the famous Okinawa district is situated.
Going to the world’s tenth largest country with a population of 126 million people can be daunting in the beginning, however, putting fear aside, there are numerous cities offering tourists special experiences and promising the best time ever. Therefore, if you are lucky enough to visit this amazing place in the near future, be sure to include some of the most vivid and interesting towns on the globe.
Being the largest metropolitan area in the world has its perks. Tokyo offers endless fun things to do and once-in-a-lifetime localities to see. Although short-term visitors don’t have the time to take it all in and discover all the opportunities this stunning capital has in store, Tokyo’s diversity of pop culture collided with tradition ensures that you will have your fill of old temples, fresh market auctions, imperial palaces, the beautiful gardens, entertaining karaoke bars, and not to forget, all you can eat sushi and noodles.
Regarding the best place to stay in Tokyo, there is plenty of affordable accommodation where you can be subjected to local customs and experience the local ways of living. Then again, tourists can always rent rooms in 5 stars hotels that are not as expensive as many may think.
Once a capital of Japan, Kyoto is now one more interesting city to include in your trip itinerary. This mesmerizing city invites guests to join and enjoy the traditional geisha performances, have a spiritual enlightenment in various classical Buddhist temples, learn history in numerous unique museums, and spend a day participating in Japanese tea drinking ceremonies or to simply take a walk in nature and have a chat with the monkeys in Monkey Park.
Apart from busy days, tourist can also experience a rich nightlife, wine and dine in the exclusive late night ambient in the alleyway of Pontocho, or let the traditional music haunt you at the old geisha district of Gion.
You can easily find a place to stay in Kyoto, just make sure that you book your accommodation on time.
Another large city that became a huge commercial center due to the port, Osaka is known for its futuristic skyscrapers, a shopping arcade, street food, castles, and art. Though the city’s décor is more modern, there are still sites like the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living that bring travelers 400 years back in time with a live reproduction of an 1830s neighborhood including a public bath, old-fashioned stores, traditional toys, and much more.
Going back to a modern design, the British magazine featured Umeda Sky Building as “triumphal arch of the future” making this site more popular than ever. In addition, the building offers a variety of quality restaurants with menus no one can resist.
If by chance all of this isn’t tempting enough, there is a cruise ship tour where first-time visitors can get the full image of the Osaka beauty from a sea view which can be really romantic, especially if you’re going there at night. The boat service ensures a pleasurable journey, as they provide alcoholic beverages and light meals, making it a truly exceptional event.
The Alps are great, but the Northern Japanese Alps are truly a sight to behold. Just a bit outside of the city of Nagano lies the Hakuba village, waiting for winter sports lovers to flood into this top ski and snowboarding destination. The never-ending joy of this white getaway offers an unforgettable winter adventure with over 200 trails, peaceful cafes, and warm, cozy pubs.
Nevertheless, there is more to Hakuba than meets the eye. This fairy-tale location wouldn’t be so magical without a bluebird day spent soaking in hot mineral springs to relieve the muscles after days of skiing, as well as enjoying some excellent homemade pastries in the lovely pet-friendly local bakery Mon Pigeon Patisserie, while surrounded by Japanese ornaments.
Not to mention the finest restaurants of healthy, yet delicious tuna and multiple resorts which make an excellent family locations for holidays.
If you’re interested in old Japan, Nara is definitely the place to visit. The city’s most remarkable culture reflects in the temples and artwork dating back to the 8th century. The oldest Japanese capital the Unesco World Heritage sites on every corner with the most iconic symbols of them all – the praying Buddha in Todai-ji’s main temple. Dating back to 743 when the construction first began, this mesmerizing site still take your breath away.
Of course, the preserved place of ancient history wouldn’t be complete without Mount Kasuga Primeval Forest, which used to be a holy spot of prayers dedicated to the Mountain God. This unusual tradition has held it’s ground to this day, as the established event that occurs in January originated from a desire to please the mountain spirits. Each year, 33 hectares of the Mount Wakakusa is set on fire, accompanied by fireworks to complete the occasion.
Apart from traditional festivals and sacred shrines, tourists can also indulge in delicious food, play and relax in several amusement centers, shop in the Higashimuki shopping district, and be enchanted by the Manyo Botanical Garden with about 300 different plant species.
Going to Japan is an experience that enthralls visitors by creating immortal memories and providing amazing stories that one can relive every time someone new show interest or just mentions this marvelous country.
Japan’s unique traditions incorporated in modern architecture, with a strong grip of spiritual awareness welcomes anyone with open arms. So, pack your bags and prepare a list of sites, but don’t be surprised if you don’t get to see to them all. After all, to get to know all of its hidden riches, one would have to spend several years living in Japan.
Nemanja is an enthusiastic researcher and avid writer with interests ranging from martial arts, weight loss, fitness and cooking, to interpersonal communication, motivation, technology and productivity. When he’s not busy reading or training, he scribbles a few articles at MyCity-Web and tries to get around to writing a short story.