From Tokyo’s dizzying skyscrapes and head-spinning nightlife to the stunning temples of Kyoto, you’ll never be short of things to do in Japan. It’s been my childhood dream to visit this beautiful country (I’m sure those of you who grew up watching Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball can relate!) and when it finally came true, it left me craving for more!
It’s impossible to experience everything that Japan has to offer in one trip, so I put together a list of some of the most exciting Japanese experiences to get you started.
1. Visit Mnt Fuji duirng the Shibazakura Festival
Your trip to Mnt Fuji won’t be complete if you don’t visit during the Shibazakura Festival when thousands of pink shibazakura flowers blossom at the foot of the mountain. This is the time when the area magically transforms into a fairy-tale like oasis – pick a clear day for your visit to guarantee great views of Mnt Fuji, towering majestically over the flowers. The flowers bloom between mid April till the end of May.
2. Stay at a traditional hotel
Staying at a traditional hotel will bring you one step closer to experiencing the Japanese way of life – not to mention it’s an amazing experience! Be sure to choose a place with an onsen (a hot spring) where you can go for a quick dip before you wrap up warm in a yukata (a traditional cotton kimono used as a bathrobe) and get ready for a good night sleep in a tatami-lined room. Sleeping on a futon is surprisingly comfortable, in fact, I prefer it to sleeping in bed. Be sure not to miss breakfast, typically consisting of various small dishes such as miso soup, steamed rice, broiled fish and pickles. It’s absolutely delicious and presented so wonderfully that it’s almost too pretty to eat!
3. A visit to Harajuku
When in Tokyo, you have to visit Harajuku! This mecca of all things kawaii (cute) has been the centre of youth culture and fashion for decades, and is home to the world’s most eccentric and extreme fashion trends. Stroll through Harajuku’s main street, Takeshita Dori, on a weekend to see the area bustle as girls dressed in Lolita and Goth-inspired outfits browse through endless boutiques selling all things kawaii, from tutus and Hello Kitty hairclips to ice cream-shaped handbags. Grab one of the famous crepes and embrace the kawaii madness!
4. Tea Time at a Temple
There are a few things more serene and peaceful than sipping matcha tea at a Japanese temple. The temples are often surrounded by a beautifully luscious garden, so your only disturbance will be the delicate sound of sōzu,a traditional bamboo water fountain. Some temples organise tea ceremonies which are truly magical, but even a simple cup of tea accompanied by a selection of almost too-cute-to-eat wagashi sweets will make your day!
5. Food, food and more food!
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that Japanese food is a feast to all senses – from the cute, animal-shaped doughnuts to traditional meals and regional specialties, Japanese take great pride not only in making their food taste but also look delicious! In fact, Japanese cuisine follows a total of SEVEN methods of food arrangement! Start by indulging in the street food, a cheap and delicious alternative to dining at a restaurant – yakisoba (fried noodles), dungo (dumplings on a stick) and shioyaki (baked and very salty fish, also served on a stick) are some of the most popular sreet snacks. Don’t forget ramen and oyakodon (omlet mixed with chicken meat served on rice). The latter is one of the most popular dishes in Japan as is actually quite easy to make! The list of dinner-time meals is endless – to get the best out of the variety of options, be sure to try the regional specialties.
Over to you! Have you been to Japan? If so, what was your favourite experience? Let us know in the comments below!
This post was first published on TravelDudes.org