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.
When travelling, I love to attend folkloristic spectacles – due to the language barrier preferably dance shows: In Kandy on the island of Sri Lanka, I saw a dance show, in Chang Mai in Thailand it even came with a traditional dinner and on Bali I witnessed Kecak in Uluwato and went to see a performance every single night during my stay in Ubud.
Good against evil – a classic in performing arts.
You can imagine my excitement when I found out that on Saturdays, there is a Kagura performance at the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. Saturday – perfect, I’ll be in Hiroshima on Saturday; and nothing will hold me back from spending a night at the Kagura.
Yes, of course, you can just grab some suitcase, throw a hodgepodge of clothes, shoes, and cosmetics in and you’re good to go – provided you stay within your airline’s weight limit.
I’d found this umbrella at the Hida Folk Village in Takayama – but it was just a prop that could be used for pictures.
However, if you do a little planning when putting together your itinerary for Japan and while packing, your trip will be much more enjoyable – take it from me as I just came back from a road trip around Honshu island.
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