The country that introduced us to sushi, karate and Pokemon has a lot more to offer: bustling cities, technological marvels, delicious food and breathtaking landscapes. Here are 10 activities not to be missed when you visit the Land of the Rising Sun.
The most beautiful view of Toyko
Opened less than 2 years ago, SKYTREE is, at 643 meters, the tallest building in Japan. It is also the tallest communication tower in the world with two observatories, one at 350 meters and the other at 450 meters which offer superb panoramic views of Tokyo and its surroundings. There is also a mall with restaurants and an aquarium, so you can easily spend an afternoon there with your family. In the evening, SKYTREE lights up with two shades of color: pale blue or mauve, which can be admired from near or far.
Hachiko Statue and Shibuya Intersection
You’ve probably seen, in films set in Tokyo, a mass of people crossing an intersection when the traffic light turns green. This intersection is in Shibuya, a restaurant and shopping district, next to the train station that bears the same name. The huge video screens on the buildings (with sound!), the neon lights and the displays of advertisements really reflect the high-tech aspect of Japan. But before crossing the street, take a walk by the statue of Hachiko, a legendary Akita dog that belonged to a professor at the University of Tokyo in the early 20th century, and waited for his master for years at the train station. after his death. There’s even a movie starring Richard Gere that was inspired by this story.
Take the high-speed train
The shinkansen is the fastest way to travel between cities. Take the line from Tokyo to Kyoto at a speed of 270 km/h and watch the landscapes pass by at high speed. In addition to being comfortable and giving you great views, the shinkansen is extremely punctual and safe. Since its inauguration in 1964 (it will be 50 this year!), no deaths or injuries to passengers have been caused by accidents. On a nice clear day, you might even spot Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain.
Visit temples and shrines in Kyoto
In the former capital of Japan, you will find thousands of temples and places of pilgrimage more beautiful than the other. The most famous are those of Kiyomizudera, Ginkakuji and Kinkakuji. You can also walk around Higashiyama, a beautiful historic district near Kiyomizudera and Gion, the district most famous for its geishas. If you’re lucky, you might even spot an apprentice geisha called maiko. For a great nature walk, head to Arashiyama where you can see some great attractions and even spot hundreds of monkeys roaming freely at the top of Iwatayama Monkey Park.
Have a picnic under the cherry trees
When these little pale pink flowers bloom, all of Japan comes to admire them and take pictures of them. A strong symbolism is connected to these trees, which have been seen in the landscape for hundreds of years. The Japanese celebrate the start of cherry blossom season by hosting a hanami, a picnic under the trees with friends and family. You will find plenty of places across the country to enjoy these beauties. If you visit Japan at the right time of year, you can’t miss them!
Tsukiji fish market
Tsukiji is Tokyo’s largest wholesale fish market and one of the largest in the world. Fresh fish and seafood are delivered daily, and there is a tuna auction for intermediate buyers, as well as restaurant agents and large traders. The tuna auction is a popular event and you can attend for free on a first-come, first-served basis. You must be ready for 5:00 a.m. On the other hand, there are very strict rules for visitors. Tourists do not always have access to certain areas inside the market. On the other hand, strolling around the ends of the market and stopping at one of the restaurants to eat the freshest sushi you’ve ever tasted is an experience in itself.
Stay in a traditional Japanese inn
Try to stay for one night in a traditional Japanese inn: a ryokan. You will sleep in a futon on a tatami, one of the most pleasant ways to sleep. You will find ryokan all over Japan, especially near natural hot springs, which are also worth seeing. Usually, you can book a night at a ryokan, which includes a meal, access to hot baths, and breakfast the next morning. Despite the policy of strict nudity in the hot baths, which may make you hesitate, as soon as you take off your robe, you will find that it was worth it. It’s the ultimate way to relax and experience Japanese culture at the same time.
Taste Japanese food (other than sushi!)
Obviously you have to eat sushi if you are in Japan. It will probably be the best you have ever eaten. There are even sushi restaurants where you can take sushi dishes from a conveyor belt (it looks like a conveyor belt). But Japanese cuisine has much more to offer. You must try real ramen noodles, tonkatsu (breaded and fried pork chops), Japanese curry, yakitori (grilled chicken on skewers), tempura (seafood and vegetables fried in batter), noodles soba and hudon (which you can eat hot or cold), okonomiyaki (a kind of Japanese pancake) and many other dishes.
Attend a sumo match
Watching Japan’s national sport, sumo, is a unique experience. There are no weight restrictions in this sport that has existed for centuries. It is for this reason that many wrestlers are so strong. Sumo still respects traditions such as certain rituals during the ceremony, and the fact that only men can become wrestlers. The matches are filled with excitement and atmosphere. Japan is the only country in the world where this sport is practiced professionally. Don’t miss the chance to attend it live!
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Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Hiroshima is known worldwide as the target of the first atomic bombing on August 6, 1945. To commemorate this unfortunate event in the history of Japan, this space was created in the center of the city, in the sector most affected by the explosion. . There are several monuments and symbols around the park, such as the A-Bomb Dome, the building that is closest to where the nuclear bomb fell. The Memorial Museum is an interesting visit if you want to learn more about the bomb and its effects. It also contains a large amount of photos and artifacts.