Tour the intriguing land of Japan
From castles, imperial palaces and the site of the first atomic bomb in the world, Japan is mysterious, beautiful and overwhelming with its tradition and culture. Ever wonder where sushi originates from? Well sushi addicts will be glad to know that while you’re in Japan you can enjoy your fill of this delicious cuisine eaten everywhere in the world. You can even have a bite of sushi at Dubai Airport at 9.30am if you’re connecting from there. Other dishes you may want to try are Shabu-shabu, which is thin sliced beef swirled around in a pot of boiling water, dipped in sauce and then eaten. For those who enjoy pork, Tonkatsu is pork cutlet rolled in breadcrumbs – delicious!
If you’re a theatre buff, book a ticket to see Japanese culture and entertainment at its best. Visit the National Bunraku Theatre to see traditional puppetry which is specific to Japanese culture. Feel like something different? Visit Awashima jinja, a shrine for women that has a huge collection of dolls. Or take a trip to Tashirojima also known as ‘Cat Island’ where you will find that there are more cats than people!
Why not take visit Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. The highlight of the aquarium has to be the massive tank with 3 whale sharks. If you’re lucky enough, you will be able to see the whale sharks feeding. There are various exhibits for those who like underwater creatures. If you are in Nara, go to the impressive Todai-ji Temple with huge Buddhas on display and deer roaming around the grounds.
No matter what your sightseeing preferences may be, Japan is sure to take you on a journey you will never forget.
Things to do in Japan
- Mount Fuji: If you are an avid mountain climber, then you have to put Mt Fuji on your trekking to-do list. The mountain is open to hikers from July to September. It’s a bit of a gruelling climb but well worth it. The now dormant volcano is a popular spot during hiking season. You are able to climb the mountain at night, but you will need to arrange in advance to do this. The night-climb will lead you to seeing a breathtaking sunrise. The best time to climb this masterpiece of nature is late July and late August. Head to Japan’s highest mountain for an unforgettable mountain trek.
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial: The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is situated where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945. The building has been kept the same as the day it was bombed. Visiting the memorial is quite moving and it’s a scary reminder of the loss of human life during World War 2. Take a walk through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which has films, artefacts and history on events leading up to the bombing as well as its aftermath. It’s recommended that you get an audio guide to appreciate the museum more. There is also the Cenotaph for the atomic bomb victims, which was erected in 1952. This houses the registry for the over 200,000 people who died from the bomb blast and radiation. It’s easy to spend at least 2 to 3 hours at the museum.
- Universal Studios Japan: The fascinating theme park that will thrill young and old has eight sections. Hop on a roller-coaster, carousel or take a ride on simulators based on movies like Spiderman, Jurassic Park or Back to the Future. The Harry Potter section at Universal Studios Japan brings the books series to life and is popular among local and international visitors to the amusement park. There is plenty shops and places to grab a bit to eat too.
- Tokyo Imperial Palace: No trip to Tokyo should be complete without a visit to the Imperial Palace. This impressive historic site is home to the head of state and imperial family. The inner grounds of the palace are closed to the public. However, visitors can visit the surrounding grounds. The palace’s architecture is fantastic as well as the beautiful gardens and stone bridges. The East Gardens are open to the public.
- Kinkaku-ji Temple: This is one of the biggest attractions in Japan and draws large crowds all year round. This is a Zen temple with its first two floors constructed of gold. It’s also the former home to a head priest. This superb piece of architecture overlooks a large pond. The temple has also seen its fair share of damage through the years. It was even burnt down in 1950 by a monk. The present building was rebuilt in 1955. Entering the temple is not allowed, but visitors can enjoy the surroundings. There’s plenty spots to take good photographs here. This is a must visit in Japan.
- Shinjuku Gyoen National Park: Just a short walk from Shinjuku Station is one of Japan’s largest parks. This has also got to be one of the most beautiful parks ever. A slice of heaven in fact. The park was badly damaged in World War 2 and was rebuilt as a public park in 1949. The major gardens in the park include English landscape garden, French garden, Japanese landscape garden and Mother and Child Forest. The park is a perfect spot for a picnic and is sublime during cherry blossom season (March to April). The Japanese garden features bridges and large ponds, while the English landscape garden features cherry trees and large stretches of lawn. The park also has a restaurant, art gallery and information centre.
- Hakone Open-Air Museum: Various sculptures are on display at this museum situated on the backdrop of mountains and valleys – what brilliant views! The museum also has an array of indoor galleries where art lovers can feast their eyes on a fantastic Picasso collection. Children can also have their own bit of fun at the children’s play area. A really enjoyable experience, the attraction is a must-see.
- Yonaha Maehama Beach: A bit of paradise awaits you at Yonaha Maehama Beach with pristine blue water and white sand which is almost like walking on powder. The beach is also popular for water sports including snorkelling, yachting and riding a jetski. There are also restaurants to enjoy a bite to eat.
- Kumamoto Castle: Prepare to be amazed at one of the most impressive castles in Japan with an array of buildings and grounds. The castle, which is quite overwhelming, was constructed in the 1600s. This is a popular destination during the cherry blossom season. A great idea would be to visit the castle at sunset for the wonderful views. This majestic castle is a must visit!
- Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine: Don’t miss this memorable sight in Kyoto. This is an important Shinto shrine and is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. It consists of over 5,000 brightly coloured orange torii gates. The shrine also feature statues of foxes, which is said to be the messenger of many foreign visitors visit the shrine to walk the mountain trails, the buildings are not to be missed too. Even though this attraction can get crowded, it’s well worth the visit. It takes about 2 hours to walk the whole trail. There are stalls and shops as you make your way from the station, so taste some local cuisine.