A Treasure Trove of Wonders: Amazing Japan
A gem in Asia, Japan, is a country that you must absolutely visit at least once (or more) in your lifetime! Describing Japan as beautiful would be an understatement; it is an amazing country that boasts a rich and colorful culture, unique landmarks, scrumptious food, awe-inspiring scenery, and welcoming & honest people! Not to mention, it is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. It’s definitely worth a spot on your bucket list. Keep on reading for some suggestions on what to see, do and taste while you are in Japan.
Let’s start with the country’s capital: Tokyo. The city is a wonderful mixture of tradition and modern. From bright lights, modern buildings, shopping districts, fashion and efficient transportation to historical landmarks, world-class museums and grand temples. Best things to do in Tokyo would be: visit the Tsukiji Market, the Meiji Shrine, the Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace. Also, you can shop at Odaiba and experience crossing in the ever-famous Shibuya crossing.
Sometimes dubbed as “Japan of the Past”, Kyoto is the place to be when you want to experience Japanese culture and traditions at their finest. Kyoto is filled with shrines, temples, gardens, and traditional Japanese architecture. This sacred city is a top attraction in Japan. When in Kyoto, be sure to visit the Nijo Castle, the Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Saiho-ji. Experience something unique by getting a Geisha Makeover in the district of Gion.
The stunning Mount Fuji, the tallest point in the country, is one of the best travel destinations to go to when in Japan. It’s a popular destination for hikers between the months of July to September. It’s truly a magnificent sight to behold. When in the area, top things to do would be to visit the ArakurayamaSengen Park, Mount Tenjo, and the KitaguchiHonguSengen-jinja Shrine.
The best words to describe this place would be serene and charming. Nara, just like Kyoto, also boasts the atmosphere of old Japan. Japanese traditions and cultures are strong in Nara as well as authentic Japanese architecture. As a matter of fact, eight UNESCO Heritage Sites can be found in Nara. Most popular places to visit in Nara are Nara Park, the Todai-ji Temple and the Kasuga-taisha Shrine.
The wonderful island of Hokkaido is a popular summer destination in Japan. Hokkaido is very famous for its natural hot springs (or onsen) and ski-areas. To add to the beauty of this island is its stunning sceneries and delicious food. It’s a very famous family destination in Japan. When in Hokkaido, don’t miss out on the chance to visit Daisetsuzan National Park, the Asahiyama Zoo, the Blue Pond and Noboribetsu.
A haven for people who love food, so that’s practically everybody, Osaka is very well known for its good food and vibrant nightlife. Come to this vibrant city to enjoy great local food, bright lights and busy shopping districts. Best things to do when in Osaka are: roam around Dotonbori, spend a day at Universal Studios Japan, marvel at the beauty of the Osaka Castle, and explore the Shinsekai neighborhood.
Sushi is raw fish, seafood, vegetables and nori mixed with seasoned rice and is undeniably the most famous Japanese food there is. When you think of Japan, you automatically think of sushi!
Okonomiyaki sometimes referred to as Japanese Pizza, which is a very delicious Japanese pancake mixed with different ingredients, like shrimp, beef, onions, vegetables, squid and cheese. It’s an explosion of flavors and it just melts in your mouth. Be sure to try this when in Japan!
Ramen is a wheat noodle soup dish in Japan and is as famous as sushi. Do not ever leave Japan without trying authentic Japanese Ramen. The noodles are served in mouthwatering soup made from either soy sauce base or miso soup base. Fun fact: it’s actually not frowned upon when you make a slurping sound when eating ramen, it enhances the flavor so don’t forget to slurp!
Tempura is a popular snack dish in Japan and is made of battered seafood and vegetables that have been deep-fried to perfection! It is usually served with special Tetsuya Sauce, which complements the taste of the tempura, and is usually eaten with rice. Fun fact: Tempura may be famous in Japan but it was actually brought to the country by the Portuguese many years ago.
Shabu-shabu is not only a popular Japanese dish but it is also an experience in itself. Shabu-shabu is a dish made of a variety of items: stew, vegetables, mushrooms and other ingredients like udon. The ingredients are then cooked in a beef broth and are then served with ponzu. The broth is used to cook the ingredients, once cooked, the meat and vegetables are then removed from the broth and are eaten with the ponzu sauce.
Yakiniku is the term for Japanese Barbeque. It’s also a very popular dish in Japan as there are a lot of Yakiniku Restaurants in the country. People get to grill slices of chicken meat, pork or beef and vegetables on a griddle on the table. Most popular Yakiniku Meat would be beef. Yakiniku is definitely a must try in Japan!
Udon is a Japanese dish made of thick white noodles. It can either be served hot or cold and it is a specialty found all over the country. Udon can also be served with or without the soup. Compared to Ramen noodles, Udon noodles are thicker and chewier. Like eating Ramen, slurping is very accepted and appreciated when eating Udon noodles!
Unique Experiences in Japan
Aside from what to eat and where to go tips when in Japan, let us now talk about experiences that are unique to Japan and we hope you get to experience them too.
- Sakura, or Cherry Blossoms, is definitely Japan’s most loved and most famous flower. People from all over flock to Japan during spring to witness the Cherry Blossom Experience. Spring season is when the Sakura Trees are in full bloom and it is definitely a sight you do not want to miss in your lifetime.
- Japan is blessed with many natural hot springs (known in Japan as onsen) where people, travelers and locals alike, can relax and unwind. Onsens can be found all over Japan so be sure to try bathing in one before leaving Japan!
- Another wonderful & unique experience when in Japan is to witness a real live Geisha Show. People flock to Kyoto to witness these performances, performed by highly respected and world-class lady entertainers in their vibrant and colorful kimonos, beautiful hair arrangements and white make-up.
- Witness a Kabuki Show and experience traditional Japanese culture at its best. Kabuki shows are traditional Japanese theater shows performed by skilled actors dressed in amazing costumes and eye-catching make up on carefully designed sets.
- As mentioned Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Their subway system is super efficient and one of the best in the world. We recommend travelers to use their subway to get around rather than riding a taxi in order to save money. Their trains are equipped with Wi-Fi and charging stations. More and more capsule hotels, a popular and affordable form of accommodation, in Japan are becoming more high-tech and you’ll be amazed to know that in some parts of Japan, their toilets have computer systems.
- Japan has 4 seasons, best time to visit the country would be late spring (between March-May) and late autumn (between September-November) when the weather is at its best with little rainfall and mild temperatures plus this is when cherry blossoms are in full bloom (late spring) and the autumn leaves cover Japan in vibrant hues (late autumn).
- If you don’t know the Japanese Language, it’s best to prepare yourself with a data plan in order to use Google Translate since not a lot of Japanese people know English, but not to worry all the important establishments, like the subway, have English signboards to help guide travelers.
Discover, explore and fall in love with Japan! We hope we were able to convince you to visit (or revisit) Japan! Have fun happy travelers!