Saturday, September 3, 2011

Top 6 Things to Do In Japan

Communicating in Japanese could be a challenge. At least travel insurance will give you peace of mind.

Visit Some Ancient Temples

There is no shortage of temples in Japan. Kyoto itself has hundreds of them. While Kyoto's temples may arguably be the pick of the bunch, there are also significant clusters of impressive temples in nearby Nara, and also in Kamakura, an easy day trip from Tokyo. Wherever you find yourself, you are sure to find at least a local shrine. One can make a wish by shaking the bell rope in front of the shrine, followed by a clap together of the hands. Also look out for attendants selling small papers which tell your fortune. Find someone to translate, then tie it onto a tree like the locals, and make a wish.

Ride The Bullet Train

Japan's marvel of modern engineering, the Shinkansen, also known as the bullet train by foreigners, must be experienced to be fully appreciated. At close to three hundred kilometres an hour, journeys are quick, but surprisingly smooth and pleasant. Well groomed and attired train attendants serve snacks during your journey. Organise a Japan Rail pass before you arrive in Japan for a good deal on unlimited travel.

Sample Some Japanese Cuisine

Famous Japanese dishes like sushi, sashimi, tempura and miso soup have become popular in the west. Enjoy the real thing in Japan, and don't forget to ask around to find out the local specialty. Each region has it's own signature dish!

A visit to a local Izakaya, a Japanese style restaurant with pub type atmosphere can turn into a raucous affair. Menus are usually broad, and usually include a lot of snack sized servings for people to share. Tasty spiced grilled chicken sticks (yakitori) are often a specialty. In areas off the beaten track, don't be surprised if you receive a hearty (but friendly!) welcome from rowdy local drinkers.

Bathe in a Hot Spring

Bathing naked with complete strangers might not be everyone's idea of a good time, but if one can get past initial inhibitions, it's a great experience. Beautiful rotemburo (outdoor hot springs) occupy many amazing locations, often up in the mountains, surrounded by amazing scenery. Most hot springs are segregated, with a towel available for modesty when one is outside the bath.

Go On A Hike

Japan is a mountainous country, hence hiking opportunities abound. Climbing Mount Fuji is an extremely popular pastime for the Japanese, but there are plenty of other hills around, should you want to beat the crowds. Combining with a soothing dip in a nearby hot spring to relax sore muscles on your descent caps off a great day in the outdoors.

Visit Traditional Neighbourhoods

Japan is a mix of old and new. Busy high tech cities contrast with traditional agriculture based villages, but even modern cities like Tokyo still have traditional precincts. Get a taste for the old Japan, with a stroll through such an area, as you appreciate the old wooden housing while boisterous fish salesmen call out enthusiastically for business.

Akaishi Mountains



The Bullet Train

The 'Daibutsu' ('Giant Buddha' in Japanese) ofKamakura

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