The Land of the Rising Sun is much more than a tourist destination. It is a chance to experience how ancient traditions can coexist with contemporary life. It is a chance to see how one of the older civilizations in the world is also one of the most modern and cutting-edge. Japan is a study of contrasts, and yet, these contrasts manage to coalesce into a unified, balanced identity. Japan should not only be on your bucket list; it should be at the top!
There is no corner of Japan which is not touched by history, even when you are walking down a street lined with state-of-the-art skyscrapers and haute couture shops. You can travel back in time, for instance, with a trip to Himeji Castle. Perched atop a hill, it looks like an elegant bird poised for flight. The castle is renowned for its architecture and its stunning white walls.
Sites all over Japan celebrate its history and culture, including the Eiheiji Temple, a training center for Zen priests for centuries, the impressive stone Buddhas of Usuki City, and Ritsurin Park in Takamatsu City, a famous garden created by feudal lords hundreds of years ago. Each provides the opportunity to see how life was, and how traditions continue to influence life today.
From ceremonial teas to Sumo matches, visitors can experience traditions that have been thousands of years in the making. The images we have of sliding rice paper walls, straw mats, and highly structured rules of etiquette play out in front of us. You can visit ryokan, or traditional inns to participate in a tea or learn calligraphy. Venture to Gion, Kyoto’s entertainment district. Here you will find the Minamiza Theater, the country’s oldest kabuki theater, and the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theater. Get tickets early!
You didn’t go all the way to Japan to go to a theme park – but try Okinawa World. Not your typical theme park, this offers history, culture, nature, traditional dances and crafts, and more. The best part is Gyokusendo, a cave featuring hundreds of thousands of stalactites and awe-inspiring views. No Disney ride compares!
But there’s more…
There’s always more to Japan. If you want the world’s best shopping, latest trends, and most up-to-date amenities, you will be more than accommodated. If you want to sample some of the best food in the world, you will find it here. If you want to experience teeming cities and peaceful nature, Japan offers you both. If you want to meet hospitable, friendly people who seamlessly blend old world manners with new world experience, Japan should be at the top of your bucket list.