Are you planning on going to Japan for the first time? Being all excited? Wondering what to expect? Having a million questions? Well, I recently came back from my first big Japan-adventure and let me tell you: It was just overwhelming; in a good way!
As I had the chance to travel for three weeks, I know that not everybody has the opportunity to leave for so long. Therefore, based on my itinerary, I put together a travel guide that can be individually adjusted to your personal trip – for one, two, or three weeks in the Land of the Rising Sun.
I’ve heard that there are people travelling periodically to the region west of Tokyo just to take a good shot of Mount Fuji.
This majestic, perfectly shaped volcano – that erupted lastly in 1707 – seems to be hiding behind clouds most of the time so that it can be a challenge – or a hobby – hunting the best view. Or at least a glimpse.
No, I won’t spend my leisure time travelling periodically to the region west of Tokyo. However, after my trip to Hakone had been Fuji-wise a wash-out – literally, I decided to take another shot – and this time hopefully not only at, but also of the mountain.
Ready for a trip back in time? For narrow alleys lined with old wooden merchants’ houses dating to the Edo Period? For a dozen fascinating museums? For platters of Hida Beef that just melts in your mouth? If so, Takayama, nestled between the mountains of the Gifu prefecture, is the perfect place for you.
And although it might be already challenging enough to fit all the landmarks downtown Takayama into your itinerary, you should, nonetheless, by no means miss a little side trip to Shirakawago village – which even made it to the World Heritage Site list in 1995.
Osaka has always been Japan’s economic hub – and keeps its status as the country’s major commercial center to this date: Major players like Sharp, Sanyo, and Panasonic have their headquarters in Osaka.
This busy metropole was not only briefly the imperial capital in the 7th and 8th centuries, it even outnumbered Tokyo in being Japan’s largest city in the 1930s.
Therefore, a visit to Osaka is rather about the cool’n’contemporary than the ancient’n’inherited and pulls its visitors into a whirlwind of skyscrapers, shopping malls, art exhibitions, and food….lots of food.
Hiroshima – one of the names inextricably connected to the first atomic attack in human history.
Visiting Hiroshima, I wasn’t able to imagine an average Japanese city with a little over a million inhabitants plying their trades as if their city never had been practically erased and went down in history as one of the biggest humanitarian disasters.
What I found was a charming city – risen up from the atomic ashes of 1945.
“…now you can go where people are one Now you can go where they get things done What you need my son: Is a holiday in Cambodia Where people dress in black A holiday in Cambodia Where you’ll kiss ass or crack…”
This is an excerpt from the song “Holiday in Cambodia” by the US band “The Dead Kennedys”. Being a punk band, the lyrics are meant to grate on you in their very cynical way; and as a matter of fact, Cambodia has always been a synonym for murder and destruction and by no means a holiday destination; apart from Angkor, Asia’s most important sanctuary, that has been a World Heritage Cultural site since 1992.
Only when my friend Philippe told me about his plans of travelling to Cambodia, I took into consideration that it might be an interesting destination and a country worth exploring. I decided following his example.
Phnom Penh hasn’t much to impress – hence it surprises by being probably world’s most provincial city with more than two millions inhabitants.
It’s rare to travel a country and not missing much by avoiding its capital. Actually there are tourists who do not make it to Phnom Penh: They go from Bangkok to Siem Reap and from there straight to Sihanoukville from where they cross the border to Vietnam via Kampot and Kep; and that’s it.
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