Japan was without a doubt one of the coolest and one of the weirdest countries I have ever been. It is both high-tech and modern, but also traditional and conservative. Foreign tourism has picked up in recent years, but it is still mainly domestic tourists travelling across the country. One thing is for sure, Japan is a beautiful country with a lot to offer. You could spend months and still not see everything, but if you are short on time, here are a few places you absolutely must visit in Japan:
Tokyo is one of a kind. Walking through Shinjuku at night, it feels like you´re in a sci-fi movie with flashing neon and buildings piled on top of each other. But once you’re sitting in the Imperial Gardens, it is quiet, calm and a world away. Tokyo simply has a little bit of everything. And people watching in Tokyo is the best in the world. From busy businessmen to edgy street fashion, in Tokyo, you see everything and everyone running through the streets. Don´t be worried if one of those worn/out businesspeople falls asleep on your shoulder, that´s just the risk of riding the Tokyo subway. Here are few other things to do on your visit to Tokyo.
Where Tokyo represents Japans modern high-tech side, Kyoto is old school Japanese. The countries cultural capital is filled with temples, shrines and old buildings. Tradition is still very much alive in Kyoto, and despite its size, it has retained a small town vibe. A visit to Kyoto’s old neighbourhoods such as Gion and breathtaking temples like Kinkakuji are just two of the must do’s in Kyoto.
You can visit Hiroshima on a day trip from Kyoto, but it really warrants a stay. This now modern city was utterly wiped out by the atomic bomb dropped by the Americans at the end of World War II. The peace park and museum commemorate this horrific tragedy and are incredibly powerful to visit. Hiroshima has overcome its past, rebuild the city and is now dedicated to ending nuclear weapons worldwide. These days, Hiroshima is hip and trendy with great food, particularly okonomiyaki. For other foods to try in Japan, click here.
Lesser known Naoshima is a small island off the coast of Okayama. This island is a perfect example of efforts to revive the dwindling Japanese countryside. Naoshima is a refuge for artists who have created a living museum. Cycling around the island looking at all the art and the natural beauty of the island is a joy. It is even better when you bring a tent and camp out on this unique piece of land.
5. Mt. Fuji
The views of this slumbering volcano are world-famous. And having seen it online, I was not prepared for how beautiful it is in real life. Mt. Fuji is easily visited on a day trip from Tokyo. Or, if you are an avid hiker and climber, try the two day trip to the top for the best view in Japan.