There’s always one country that whenever mentioning about the Asian development we have to say its name first of all, that’s Japan. Not only being the king of Asian economy, Japan is also a tourist paradise which can always bring enormous surprise to any tourists who once put their feet on this country.
Japan is truly a fascinating place, a country thriving on contradictions, between the technological development and the historical reservation. This is a thoroughly modern country that looks nothing like the West. But besides the economic development, Japanese still really appreciate their cultural and traditional values, and have cultivated a strong national identity that is only enhanced by modern technology. From robots at restaurants to cat cafes to a towering temples — it’s an assault to the senses.
The economic center of Japan
Japan is truly a wonderful destination for all types of travelers — it has pilgrimage routes, Mount Fuji, whale watching, ancient temples, and a booming food tourism industry. The country also has an advanced transportation infrastructure that makes navigating a cinch. And there’s no other place you can find the unique tourist characteristics like in Japan.
As a technological country, Japan has excellent internet; it’s among the fastest in the world. So no matter where you travel, you can essentially count on easy internet access. Many guesthouses also offer WiFi for free.
Japan is also incredibly safe. The culture runs to a rigid set of rules and citizens adhere to these cultural norms. Though crowded, pickpocketing and petty crimes just don’t happen outside of, perhaps, the airport area. Anything that befalls you will be accidental. There are some reports of a skeezy behavior from men on the trains, but it’s rare.
1. Best times to visit:
Japan’s spring is busy with the cherry blossom season (end of March through early April). Autumn is very beautiful, the manicured gardens riot with color. Summer is quite hot, and Japan is a popular ski spot in the winter. Fuji’s climbing season is only open in July and August.
Japan in spring
2. High-speed train systems:
Japan is a small country and the high-speed train system allows you to navigate from top to bottom of Japan in a flash. There’s a lot to see, however, and each area has its own vibe. You can explore the highlights in just a one or two-week trip, but to get under the skin and understand a place you should try to spend longer in each city and explore deeper. There’s too much history to see it all in one trip — the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites across the country alone are impressive — so pick a region and stick to it.
High-speed train of Japan
3. Favorite experiences:
- Exploring the temples of Kyoto’s northern and southern Higashiyama Districts.
- Spending the day wandering around Kamakura visiting the Buddha and the beach.
- Relaxing on Miyajima at the very top of the mountains, with sweeping views of the islands around Hiroshima.
- Mowing down on Okonomiyaki at a tiny eatery in Hiroshima.
- Sitting at the gorgeous Isuien Gardens in Nara.
- Hiking behind the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine in Kyoto.
4. Popular destinations:
Osaka is huge — the second largest city in Japan — but a world apart from traveling in Tokyo. While wandering around Tokyo seems anonymous and overwhelming, Osaka has a reputation as the friendlier of the two cities. Osaka is known for its food scene, so plan to eat in the Dotonbori area in the evening. This is a handy free guide to Osaka’s food scene. If you haven’t yet tried Takoyaki, battered octopus, this is the spot for it. Also considering a visit to Osaka Castle.
The ancient Osaka
Adjacent to Osaka, this port city is home to the famous beef of the same name. You won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for Kobe Beef, as there are many near the Sannomiya area. There is a good deal of foreign influence here, which is rare for Japan. This is one of the few places foreigners were allowed to live during the late 1800’s. Also consider that the Ashiya district is one of the few luxury districts in Japan. You’ll find boutique shops, expensive homes, and yacht harbors.
Kobe, hometown of king of all kinds of beef on the world
This historic Japanese city predates Kyoto and just an hour from Kyoto. In the 8th century, this was the capital of Japan, and as such has some truly stunning temples and architecture. Many of the temples of Nara are designated as UNESCO World Heritage spots.
The ancient beauty of Nara
This iconic spot is the tallest spot in Japan and sits on the border of two provinces, Yamanashi and Shizuoka. Both prefectures afford pretty views of the mountain — actually an active volcano — and are up to two hours from the city center of Tokyo. Check the time of year you’re visiting as you can only climb Fuji at certain times of year. Sunrise from Fuji is a wonderful cap to a Japan trip if you’re there in the right season.
Mt.Fuji is always a challenging mount to any adventures
If you’re not there in climbing season, there are some amazing other walking trails throughout the country.