What comes to your mind when you hear someone mention Japan? Is it their world-famous cuisine sushi or their high-speed train trains renowned for their timeliness? Maybe it is their hospitable and courteous nature, or the skilled Samurais famous for their skills and courage.
Whatever you think of, here are four of the most memorable experiences to try in Japan:
Visit the “gateway to hell”
Osorezan, situated on the most northerly point of the Japanese mainland, is one of the most unforgettable experiences you could enjoy while in Japan. A semi-active Volcano combined with a Buddhist temple, it’s an incredibly sacred and spiritual site, holding the popular mythological belief that it’s the entrance to hell.
Walk across the red bridge, over the stream said to transport dead souls to the afterlife, and leave children’s toys and clothing at Bodai-Ji temple to honour Jizo, who guards the souls of dead and unborn children. You’ll definitely have something to write home about.
2. Eating dangerous (and delicious) food
The Japanese are known the world over for their love of seafood – think sushi and sashimi, both delicious delicacies that are must-eats when in Japan. However, have you heard of Fugu?
Fugu is a highly poisonous fish that Japanese chefs have transformed into exquisite cuisine. Imagine eating a delicacy you are well aware could be your last meal (though of course, it’s made safe to eat). Just do your research first, if you want to be on the extra safe side.
It’s not just fugu that makes Japanese cuisine memorable. The coca cola here is colourless and their Kit-Kats are green. The best thing about Japanese dishes, of course, is that what you see on adverts and menus is the exact thing you get on your plate. That’s undoubtedly an experience to remember.
3. Take a high-speed train
One of the proudest technological advancements of Japan is their railways. They are punctual to the second and come with unique features and plenty of comforts. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re on a flight, as the trains reach speeds of up to 443kp/h or 275mph. The bullet train, travelling on popular routes – such as between Osaka and Tokyo – is unmissable, and you’d be wise to buy a Japan Rail Pass to ensure you get the best prices and the most flexibility.
4. Indulge in incredible landscapes
Mount Fuji is world-renowned for its outstanding beauty and is the quintessential Japanese postcard. Visiting this stunning mountain and its surrounding forests makes a memorable holiday experience. It’s considered one of Japan’s 3 sacred mountains, and summit hikes are a popular activity, but it’s just as beautiful to experience without the hike – especially in spring when Japan’s famous pink cherry blossoms come out.
5. Timing the Cherry Blossoms
The Cherry Blossoms, although semi-predictable in the space of a two-week timeline, can happen within 3 days of that two weeks and then disappear. Timing is everything when planning a visit to Japan for this stunning bloom and sought after season. The major cities can get extremely crowded with photographers and tourists alike, there are many less crowded cities where you will still be able to see the bloom and albeit being higher priced for the season, are significantly less than that of Tokyo and Kyoto.
One of the best aspects of Japan, of course, is the harmonious blend of urban environments and remote locations. Be sure to plan a trip that encompasses the best of both these worlds to make your trip your favourite holiday yet. You’re bound to fall in love with this incredible country.