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5 Great Reasons to Visit Japan

August 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features

Japan has had a tough time of it recently, to say the least. When it was struck in March by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, and in the following weeks had a potential nuclear catastrophe to contend with as well, things looked desperate. But the Japanese people have handled the disaster with exemplary stoicism, and the good news is that tourism is now picking up again. In no particular order, here are five great reasons to go on holiday to Japan according to Rachel McCombie:

The food

Japan may be famous for its sushi, but that’s by no means the only dish you’ll have the chance to try on your trip. Whether you choose to play safe with a delicious bowl of noodles, or brave something more outlandish such as the famed puffer fish, you’re sure to come away from Japan with a host of new favorite foods. You’re also likely to notice the very Japanese custom of restaurants displaying plastic food in their windows to show you what’s on offer – a surprisingly convenient way of ordering food if you don’t speak Japanese!
miniature-sushi Miniature Sushi © Stephanie Kilgast

The culture

Japan’s captivating culture makes for an enriching experience even for the casual tourist, but those with the curiosity to delve deeper will be even more greatly rewarded. Japan has a highly refined and ceremonious culture, and is perhaps most famous for its tea ceremony and enigmatic Geisha. It also has a wealth of stunning temples, with 2,000 in Kyoto alone, while tranquil gardens with meticulously laid out vegetation and paths provide welcome respite from the frenetic pace of the major cities. You’ll even be able to see fascinating and well-preserved castles and samurai quarters, which have survived the centuries to see huge modern cities grow up around them.

The cherry blossom

Early April sees the arrival of the cherry blossom or sakura season in Japan, a glorious natural spectacle and the subject of much celebration in Japanese culture. This wonderful event makes April arguably the best time of year to visit Japan, as the clouds of pink blossom make the temples and gardens even more photogenic than usual. You’ll see people having picnics under the cherry trees to celebrate the blossom, creating a lively and jubilant atmosphere that will be the icing on the cake for your visit to Japan.
mt-fuji-sakura tokyo-metro-woman Mt. Fuji and sakura © Tanaka Juuyoh and Woman waiting for the train © John B. Mueller

The trains

Public transport might sound like an odd reason to visit a country, but Japan is famous for its trains. With an efficiency that puts other railways to shame, the Japanese rail network is highly refined and punctual to the second. Its pristine bullet trains – known in Japanese as Shinkansen – are capable of speeds in excess of 180 miles per hour, making travel between Japan’s major cities both easily manageable and comfortable. A recommended journey for your Japan holiday is a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto by bullet train, a stretch of which offers stunning close-up views of Japan’s iconic volcano, the snow-capped Mount Fuji (providing it’s not too cloudy!).

The landscapes and cityscapes

For many people, the image that immediately springs to mind in conjunction with Japan is skyscrapers, bright neon lights and cutting edge technology. In the bustling capital city of Tokyo this is certainly true, but there’s a lot more to Japan than its urban landscapes. The stunning spectacle of Mount Fuji has already been mentioned, as have Japan’s many temples and gardens, but further afield the scenery turns to magnificent rugged mountains – an ideal destination all year round, whether for summer hiking or winter skiing.

Rachel McCombieRachel McCombie is better known for her Rachel’s Rome Writings blog, but has traveled to and written about other countries as well. She went on a trip to Japan a couple of years ago and has been an avid enthusiast of Japanese culture ever since.

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11 Responses to “5 Great Reasons to Visit Japan”
  1. Jess says:

    I love Japanese food. I would go just for that. Mount Fuji and the cherry blossoms sound great too.

  2. Andy P. says:

    I’m with Jess on the food. I’ve been to Japan a couple of times and the culture is really great. I love that a sense of community exists, but there is also individual expression. That’s rare in Asia.

  3. Jennifer G says:

    I lived and worked in Japan from 2001 to 2002. Absolutely love the people, the culture and the food. If you get a chance, stay for a month, and stay in a Ryokan (a japanese inn), and I would really recommend visiting Hiroshima(A-bomb museum) and Miyajima(a little hop skip and jump from Hiroshima). These 2 places made me see Japan in a very different light. The amount of courage the Japanese showed after suffering the bomb, and the incredible beauty of Miyajima, just a treasure in the East.

    I did not visit Tokyo, however feel that Kobe(where I lived),Nara, Kyoto, and Hiroshima were enough to give me a real taste of the country. So, if you only have a short stay, I would recommend, Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima/Miyajima.

    Enjoy your visit!

  4. Jennifer G says:

    Oh, and cherry blossom season is sooooo short, maybe 2 weeks, and very very crowded with tourists (Japanese people are very passionate about the blossoms so they are out in full force as well!) I would give that time of year a miss, unless you are visiting for an extended period of time.

  5. Carolyn Jung says:

    I could eat Japanese food every day, as I love it so. Still have not made it to that country yet, though. But some day, some day…..

  6. Kathy says:

    Just reading this post makes me want to hop on a plane to Japan right now! 🙂
    I must visit Japan some time 🙂

  7. J.D. Meier says:

    The cherry blossoms and scenery must be great. I can only imagine the views.

  8. I was there for sakura once and it was life changing!

  9. MissVinzeent says:

    japan is one of the countries in my list that i should visit someday. i love the food and Japanese people are kind.

  10. These are great reasons to visit Japan. I find the authentic food -although expensive – is worth the journey in & of itself 😛

  11. lara dunston says:

    Good post. Love Japan, especially Tokyo, were we spent 2 wks last year as part of our Grantourismo trip, and the food was a real highlight. Though the food doesn’t have to be expensive at all. We ate in a lot of ramen places and yakitori bars, which were super-affordable.