Visiting Japan for the fourth or fifth time, and unsure of what to do? Consider theming your latest Japan travel itinerary in the following fun, educational, or yummy ways. |
1. Castle Discovery
There are no structures more representative of Japan than majestic Japanese castle keeps. While most nowadays are modern concrete reconstructions, they are still well-capable of instantly transporting anyone to the ages of samurai and ninjas.
For international visitors, many Japanese castles are also the key attraction of smaller cities. To put it in another way, you could easily fill up two to three weeks of travel going on a “castle route” that visits the most beautiful ones. As many of these castles are near to or within other attractions, such as historical gardens, you wouldn’t have to worry about such a themed Japan travel itinerary being monotonous too.
2. Power Spots
Very simply, power spots are locations in Japan where visitors can supposedly benefit from the energies of the Earth.
Highly popular with Japanese ladies, such energies are believed to be capable of promoting healing, improving health, or enhancing love. Many Japanese travel magazines correspondingly devote regular, enthusiastic write-ups to these wondrous locations.
With some research, you can compile your own list of must-visit power spots and fill your itinerary with them. With many of them located away from typical travel routes, getting to them can also be an enjoyable adventure.
3. The Big Threes
Since medieval times, Japan has been greatly fond of listing domestic attractions in lists. This itself a precursor to modern travel writing.
There are lists such as the 100 views of Fuji. Or famed compilations of hidden rustic spots. Or the best onsens i.e. hot-springs, and so on.
In modern times, the most prominent and useful of these lists are undoubtedly the Big Threes. Such compilations meticulously list out the top three spots for night views, hot-springs bathing, nature appreciation, mountain trekking, and so on. Magazines even feature yearly informal competitions based on them.
With most of the “spots” pretty spread out across the country, you could easily fill up many days getting to the ones you’re interested in. During your journey, you will surely learn much about Japanese culture too.
4. Discover Shintoism
Japan’s native religion is inseparable from its history, culture, and politics. For international visitors, Shinto shrines also count amongst the most visually striking and tranquil attractions to visit. In addition to offering unique experiences such as ema writing.
A word of caution, though, before you embark on a Shinto shrine discovery trip. Unlike Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines do not have elaborate statues and altars. Most of the time, the divinity revered is only indicated in writing too. You would thus have to read up beforehand, to fully appreciate any visit.
5. Get Intimate with Famous Japanese Folk Stories
Japan is full of myths and folktales. Some are downright macabre and terrifying. Others are quirky and humorous.
A good many, such as the strange tale of fisherman Urashima Taro, are also whimsically philosophical.
Jump forth to today, many characters from such Japanese folkloric stories have found new life in modern tourism, usually in the form of the protagonists becoming tourism mascots. Take the time to read through some of the stories. If you enjoy them, go visit the cities and attractions nowadays associated with them. Other than lots of cameos and souvenirs to have a giggle over, and photos to take, such visits could also be culturally educational.
6. Ramen Tour
Ramen is comfort food to the Japanese, the equivalent of Chicken and Waffles for the Americans.
It’s also not just Chinese-style noodles served with soup. Many Japanese cities and towns today boast of their own unique versions, with some so different from the rest, they are like different dishes.
Not to mention, regional culinary specialties are often used as toppings.
From Kagoshima up north to Sapporo, you could have a full gourmet tour sampling the Ramen delights of each region. Needless to say, it’d be an extremely yummy Japan travel itinerary too.
7. Festive Illuminations
November and December are always great months to visit Japan. Gorgeous autumn leaves could be enjoyed in the warmer parts of the country. Skiing would also be available from late December. In major cities, entire districts are also transformed into festive wonderlands to welcome Christmas and the year-end. Known as Winter Illuminations, these dazzling celebrations will instantly put you in a festive mood.
Furthermore, famous parks such as Ashikaga Flower Park and Nabano no Sato will be entirely adorned with twinkling lights to welcome the holidays. Going about the country checking out these Winter Illumination hotspots will thus easily fill up a fortnight.
Ced Yong is a blogger and travel writer based in Singapore.
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