A lot of people want to visit Japan. It’s known as a country that’s established a nice balance between cultural identity and forward-looking modernism. It has beautiful country areas, huge cities, and by all accounts some of the world’s friendlier people (not to mention a very long and rich history). It’s a place that simply has a lot of appeal to a lot of people. The following are some of the things you might enjoy doing while you’re there.
Walk the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
One of the most unique features of Japan as a country is the presence of towering bamboo forests. They exist in China too, but they’re perhaps a little more accessible in Japan, and they’re commonly recommended for tourists. Arashiyama is perhaps the best of the bunch, identified as one of Kyoto’s top sights (which is saying something) and perfect for a hike. You can take a nice long walk, and particularly on a sunny day, with the tops of the bamboo stalks almost glowing in sunlight, you feel as if you’re walking through some creative author’s fantasy world.
Spend a Night in Tokyo
Most people are aware that Tokyo is the biggest city in Japan, and one of the most significant, modern cities in all of Asia. What you may not realize is that it’s actually the biggest city in the world (that’s right – not New York or Sao Paolo or Mexico City). And when you’re there it feels like it, not so much in a cluttered way, but simply because of the pulse of the city. A night there is just a memorable experience if you’re touring Japan.
Visit an Onsen
You may have heard of Japanese onsens before. Really, it’s just another word for a hot spring, and the country is full of them. These are some of the nicest and most relaxing places to visit in all of Japan. If you’re traveling during a colder part of the year, you should certainly work them into your itinerary.
See Geishas at Work
Geishas are almost mythical at this point. These unique entertainers have been depicted in movies, written about in books, and turned into gaming subjects. Despite the mythical quality to them however, one of the games that uses them describes their current status well: they remain an important part of Japan’s heritage. And even today you can see geishas in certain neighborhoods, moving between events. It’s generally acceptable to look for them and even take photos, provided you don’t hold them up in any way.
Visit the Jigokudani Monkey Park
If you’ve ever seen pictures of red-face monkeys (Japanese macaques) enjoying hot springs with snow in the surroundings, the pictures probably came from the Jigokundani Monkey Park. This is basically an onsen for macaques, which is quite an amazing attraction. Because of high elevation, cold temperatures, and jagged cliffs, the whole area is considered somewhat treacherous. But you can take a bus to the springs from the entrance to the park, and enjoy the incredible, unforgettable sight of the macaques warming themselves up in natural springs. It’s truly one of the most amazing natural behaviors you’ll ever witness.
There’s a strong argument to be made that sushi is as much a part of Japan as any food can be said to be part of any country or region. So, naturally, you should seek out the very best when you’re there. Generally speaking, that also happens to mean seeking out the best sushi places in Tokyo, which is pretty much the capital of this unofficial national dish. But wherever you may go in Japan, do some research and ask around to find the best. You won’t be disappointed.
Scale Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji can be somewhat elusive to tourists, often more or less shrouded in fog – and in fact sometimes essentially invisible altogether. However, if you get up close you can actually hike up the mountain, which is quite something to be able to say you’ve done. It’s one of the most famous mountains in the world, and particularly on a clearer day it’s a beautiful sight, and one that offers even more beautiful views once you hike up a ways.
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