Tokyo Bay, Japan

15 reasons why you should travel to Japan right now

Aytaj Hasanova Aytaj Hasanova 12 November 2020
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Although Japan looks very small on the map, this is not the case at all. To get from the southwestern island of Kyushu to Hokkaido in the northeast, you need either to fly or go more than seven hours by super-fast train Shinkansen. In fact, Japan is huge, and, unfortunately, you can't see it all in one trip. But there are places and things that are worth visiting, seeing and trying while you have a valid Japan visa.

1. Mount Fuji

mount fuji

This still active volcano is probably the main symbol of Japan. Mount Fujiyama (or, as the Japanese say, Fujian) is so high that you can see it even from the capital of Japan, although it takes several hours to get there. The highest peak - Kengamine - is 3776 m high.

Especially desperate and sporty can climb Fuji - there are several routes. Or you can use the cable car.

On the mountain slopes, there are whole cities - Fujiyoshida and Kawaguchiko in the north, Gotemba in the east, and Fujinomiya in the south. The best places to admire Fuji are Lake Kawaguchiko, the island of Enoshima, the cities of Gotemba and Hakone, and the Tokyo TV Tower.

2. Kitchen

sushi

In Russia, there is an opinion that traditional Japanese food is sushi. In fact, much more often Japanese eat ramen noodles or udon in fish or meat broth. Small kebabs Yakitori, soft Chinese nikumana pies, breaded meat Tonkatsu and even beef steaks are also popular dishes.

There are also special regional popular dishes in Japan. For example, the nourishing miso ramen is best tried in Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido. This type of ramen appeared in the north in the '60s, because people needed more calories to keep warm in winter. Chinese gyoza dumplings are best cooked in Utsunomiya city north of Tokyo. In Osaka, it is worth trying tacoyakas - dough balls with octopus meat inside, and in Kobe, you should definitely eat beef steak.

3. Shinto Temples

temple

Long before Buddhism came to Japan, the country had its own traditional Shinto religion. The ancient Japanese believed that the spirits of the dead and the divine essence (kami) surrounded the world and that every stone, tree, and grass had its own kami.

Entering the Shinto temple through the thorium gate, a man enters the other world, into the possession of kami. You can ask them for something, but first, you have to perform the ritual. First, you should wash your hands and face at a special well. Then, coming to the temple itself, you should throw a coin, ring the bell and clap your hands twice. It is believed that after that the deities are ready to listen, and you can make a wish. And for it to come true, you need to bow twice and clap your hands for the last time. Inside the temple, visitors can not go in, but sometimes you can see the services of monks.

4. Hot Springs

spring

Almost all Japanese people like to go to Japanese baths or onsen. The water there is a mineral and does not dry the skin at all - after your visit, you feel cheerful and rejuvenated.

If you travel to Japan, then be sure to visit the onsen. It is best to find a hotel that has access to hot springs, and take an all-inclusive package. Such a package includes a private room with indoor or outdoor onsen (time of visit can be chosen by yourself if no one has not booked it in advance), dinner with a change of several dishes and a night in a traditional Japanese room - Ryokan.

It is important to remember that in public onsen there are prohibitions on tattoos - this is due to the fact that in Japan, tattoos are associated with the Yakuza or drunk foreign sailors. Recently, however, some onsen has started letting people in with tattoos. There is another option - to use a patch of skin colour.

5. Night View Nagasaki

nagasaki city

Are you wondering where to go in Japan? Well, Nagasaki is a city in the south of Kyushu Island. It was there that the nuclear bombardment took place in 1945. At that time there was practically nothing left of the city, but today Nagasaki is flourishing. You can look at it from the observation deck of Mount Inasa, either by car, on foot or by cable car. Some say that the night view of Nagasaki is one of the three most beautiful cities in the world. The other two are Hong Kong and Monaco.

By the way, that photo memo, which shows intact Shinto gates after a nuclear attack is a lie. Only half of it is left. Every day people bring flowers, candles and other gifts there.

6. Shinkansen

high speed train

Shinkansen is a super-high-speed train capable of speeds up to 250 km/h. The trip on it is quite expensive, but if you take a season ticket for a week, it will cost about 15 thousand rubles.

In Shinkansen, as if there is a special life - people eat, read manga, sleep, communicate with messengers (talking on public transport is considered bad tone).

From the Shinkansen window, you can see the best places to visit in Japan: castles, blooming cherry trees, coastal areas, temples.

7. Anime Shops

japan street

Hoü can be Japan without anime? In the capital of Japan, Tokyo, there are whole areas devoted to manga and anime stuff. The best places for anime people are Akihabara and Ikebukuro. Figures, badges, stickers, smartphone cases, postcards, cosplay suits, wigs, artbooks, and much more. In anime stores, where the manga is sold, there are always special departments, which are isolated from the rest of the sections. In these departments, they sell Hentai, a Japanese pornographic manga. They say that somewhere you can find the same famous machines with worn panties. But this is just a legend.

In addition to anime stores, Akihabara has a lot to look at. For example, Shinto shrines right in the middle of residential complexes, futuristic skyscrapers or the statue of Godzilla on the roof of the shopping centre.

8. Sagano Park

forest

The most famous bamboo forest - Sagano - is located in Kyoto's Arasiama district. It takes only 30 minutes by train or bus to get to the centre. Sagano has rickshaw masks of kitsune, and at the entrance to the park, you can buy souvenirs made of bamboo by local craftsmen. Sagano's forest is famous for its bamboo trees beating against each other in the wind, creating a unique melody. The park was built in the XVI century and had an area of more than 16 km.

9. The City of Nara and Its Deer

deer

Nara is one of the former capitals of Japan, along with Kamakura and Kyoto. Nara was the capital from 710 to 784. The most important attraction of the city is the sacred deer.

According to legend, when Nara just became the capital city, the god of swords and thunder Takemikazuki was invited to protect her from enemies. God came to Nara on horseback, and all the deer that live there now, are his descendants.

Deer live in temples and parks and practically do not pay attention to people. However, if you buy a treat, you will immediately become popular. They will surround you and will demand food.

Look out! Some especially brazen deers stand on their feet and frighten with their horns. And they also bite.

10. Small Towns

small town

Japan is one of the most high-tech countries in the world. Yes, the central areas of Tokyo, Osaka, and other metropolitan areas look like illustrations of cyberpunk, and the country runs fast trains, but most of the country consists of small towns. Many people move from megacities in search of a calmer and more measured life. People there do not speak English, supermarkets do not accept bank cards, but there is always change with large bills, and for some reason, you are happy as a native.

11. Fushimi Inari Temple

Fushimi Inari Temple

Thousands of orange and bright red Shinto thorium stand behind one another. They are made of wood and covered with a thick layer of varnish. There are many Shinto shrines, small and large, and nearby there is a bamboo forest.

This giant temple complex was built on Mount Inari in the early VIII century AD. Then Fushimi Inari was rebuilt several times, and in the XV century completely burned down. It took about thirty years to rebuild, and in 1499 the complex was completed. Now it is one of the most famous in Kyoto. Every year, not only tourists go there, but also pilgrims who want to worship Inari - the goddess (or god - it's still unclear) of abundance, cereals, industry and foxes. It is the fox statue of Kitsune with a knife in his mouth that sits at the entrance to the temple complex.

12. Chinese New Year

chinese new year

This holiday lasts in Japan for several days in late January - early February. In the Chinese quarters, everything is decorated with puzzled orange flashlights, the streets sell traditional Chinese food, the gong rings, and somewhere in the distance, one can hear the sound of firecrackers breaking. During the celebration days, you can see the Dragon Dance, acrobatic numbers and theatrical performances.

The most famous Chinese neighbourhoods are in Nagasaki, Yokohama and Kobe.

13. Cherry Blossom

cherry blossom

Traditionally, the year in Japan was divided into 24 periods (sekki), each of which in turn was divided into three seasons. This division came from China and is still in use today. In total, it turns out 72 seasons, and each has a very poetic name. For example, from 24 to 28 February the season when "fogs begin to crawl" and from 16 to 20 March the season when "dolls turn into butterflies". But of course, the most famous and favourite time for everyone is March 26-30, when the cherry blossoms. Every year (except 2020) millions of tourists travel to Japan to admire the flowering cherry.

It's a fun fact. Our cherry is translated as cherry, but in fact, it is genetically closer to cherry.

14. Admire Maples

maples

This is the second most popular season in Japan. It is called Momiji. In early November, maple leaves turn yellow, and then they become scarlet and begin to fall off. The best Instagrammable places to admire maples are Rikugien Garden in the centre of Tokyo, Hokokuji Temple in Kamakura, Mitake Mount, Lake Ashi near Hakone City and Kiyomizu-Dera Temple in Kyoto.

The Japanese themselves rarely track the seasons of cherry blossom and clench admiration - for them, it is a common part of life. 

15. Wabi-sabi

Vabi Sabi

In Japan, everything is permeated with the atmosphere of wabi-sabi - and big noisy cities, and empty roads, and bamboo forests, and even minimarkets 7Eleven. Wabi-sabi is a combination of unassuming simplicity, the perfect imperfection and the beauty of withering. This is the ability to perceive the world at the moment, to be here-and-now, to see the beauty in simple things, whether it's fallen maples, a cracked cup or a favourite old book.

It is impossible to explain in a few words what wabi-sabi is. Some Japanese, for example, believe that a foreigner will never understand this concept, but this is not the case. A sense of nostalgia and light sadness is inherent in all of us, regardless of nationality.

And if you're wondering what to see in Japan, the answer is simple - look at everything.

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Aytaj Hasanova

Up to Aytaj, nothing can introduce ourselves as much as our speaking style and writings. That’s why, Aytaj has written short stories, participated in different debate forums and aims to write blogs that would be appreciated by readers. Aytaj, winner and the best speaker of Youth Debate Forum of the Republic of Azerbaijan, loves to explore different cultures over the world. One of her biggest dreams is to explore Africa that has been convicted to bear all the sins of the world. In her leisure time, she also loves to draw. According to her, drawing is the kind of speaking without using sentences.

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