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Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Japan – Safe Places for Travel

May 20th, 2011 by

The world has to give it to the Japanese for having to face the terrible consequences of the earthquake, colossal tsunamis and widespread fear caused by the rising radiation levels from damaged nuclear power plants in Northern Japan. Even if this is the case, life is pretty much back to normal in other areas.  Contrary to what a lot of people think, there are still a number of cities in Japan that can still be considered for travel.

Photo credit

Here are some of the places in Japan that are safe for tourists to visit and explore.

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Off the Beaten Track in Shikoku, Japan

April 7th, 2011 by

There are hidden gems destinations and then there are hidden gem destinations in Japan, a country that still doesn’t court foreign visitors with reckless abandon. Feigned enthusiasm is more like it. As a result, stumbling around the four main islands of Nihon can be a slightly frustrating but, indeed, richly rewarding experience. The discovery of an off the beaten track jewel? Even more delicious.

Somewhere in Shikoku – Photo credit

With that in mind, may we introduce Shikoku. The most diminutive main island in Japan contains just over 4 million people – pretty much the same as your average Tokyo neighbourhood – and a cavalcade of terrific nooks to explore. Check out our top 20 must-sees and must-dos in Shikoku. Read the rest of this entry »

Three Views Of Japan

October 5th, 2010 by

The Three Views of Japan (Nihon Sankei) is a list by scholar-poet Hayashi Razan that dates back to 1643 and is akin to the “Seven World Wonders”. This trio of peerless scenic gems is a must-see experience for visitors to Japan.

Amanohashidate

Photo courtesy by puffyjet.

Amanohashidate.

A veritable “Bridge to Heaven”, this 3.6 km-long sandbar near Kyoto contains thousands of pine trees. In Miyazu Bay, the name derives from a local legend which claims the sandbar was a link between earth and sky for various gods.

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6 Spectacular National Parks in Hokkaido, Japan

September 23rd, 2010 by

Japan is so fraught with extraordinary urban landscapes that often, the general picture outside visitors have of the country is a frenetic ward scene from Ginza, Tokyo or Kita, Osaka. Yes, from Yokohama to Nagoya, Hamamatsu to Sendai, Japan is a nation of intense urban clusters. But beyond the steel skylines is another side of Japan – a side we highlight here with a look at the awesome island of Hokkaido.

The home of Sapporo (beer and city) is a notable haven of natural beauty, with a tidy half-dozen national parks (and five quasi-national parks) to explore. This eminent ensemble is easily accessible from Sapporo hotels and with Tokyo 90 minutes away by plane (four hours by Shinkansen bullet train by 2020), well worth the trip.

Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park

The 212 km2 Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park is in northwest Hokkaido and as the name suggests, spans the islands of Rishiri and Rebun. A gorgeous swath of Hokkaido coastline also makes up part of the park but for visitors, the twin islands lure the lion’s share of summer visitors. Ferry service is sparse from the mainland in winter but quite frequent throughout the warm months, when wildflowers dot the landscape. Perfect for avid hikers, Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park provides both hostels and campsites for visitors.


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Japan’s Exceptional Bonsai Culture

August 30th, 2010 by

Considered the Bonsai Mecca in Japan and the rest of the world, Omiya Bonsai Village is home to ten gardens that cultivate Bonsai trees. This hamlet in Saitama City houses hundreds of thousands of these tiny plants, and the community has organized itself around their treasured flora.

Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing miniature trees, using only a small pot and carefully arranged stones. This art form was brought to Japan during the Kamakura period in the 12th century and used to be exclusive to the aristocracy before being introduced to the world in the 19th century during the Meiji Restoration. The Japanese are drawn to the intricately gnarled bark and twisting shape of the trunk, which resemble mythical creatures like the dragon.

Bonsai Trees
Photo courtesy of Rob Shenk

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Four Spectacular Castles in Japan

July 26th, 2010 by

Throughout Japan’s Warring States Period (1467–1603), many of the country’s magnificent feudal fortresses were destroyed. Numerous others that survived into the 20th century were strategically bombed by World War II air raids.

Thankfully however, four castles remain remarkably intact and have been declared National Treasures of Japan.

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle
– The “Crow Castle”, replete with a brilliant ebony exterior, is one of the most venerable landmarks in Japan. The second floor of this Nagano Prefecture point of interest contains a truly exception weapons museum.

The narrow windows of Matsumoto Castle allow visitors to admire fabulous views of the Japanese Alps and Matsumoto City. The immediate scenery is idyllic as well, as koi fish and swans swim in the moat below.

Local city government bought the castle after the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century and still own, maintain and cherish the landmark. Summer time in Matsumoto Castle brings a Taiko (drum) Festival as well as a Takigi Noh, a classical musical drama performed by torch light. Winter visitors enjoy the snow as it falls on the castle roofs.

Matsumoto Castle is a short walk from JR Matsumoto train station. Superb Nagano hotels are less than two hours away.

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Japan’s Quintessential Karaoke Culture

July 16th, 2010 by

Like pachinko and vending, karaoke parlors are found on every corner of Japan. Unlike these other forms of entertainment, karaoke is omnipresent around world, enthralling and irritating millions of people with good singing and bad. And with home karaoke sets, everyone can feel like a diva for a song, as it were.

Karaoke

Photo courtesy by dominiekth.

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Things To Do In Seto Inland Sea

June 17th, 2010 by

Seto Inland Sea is a strait passing through Japan that connects the Pacific Ocean and the Japanese Sea. Located between the main islands of Honshu and Shikoku and stretching 300 miles from Osaka to the resort town of Beppu, the Inland Sea is one of the most beautiful and tranquil parts of the country. The strait snakes through a multitude of islands, villages, beaches and natural sceneries.

Here are some things to do while in Seto Inland Sea:

Shimanami Kaido

Photo courtesy of kubotake:

Cycle throughout the Inland Sea. There is a dedicated bike path along the Shimanami Kaido, a 60-kilometer toll road which connects Honshu’s Onomichi City to the six islands of Mukaishima, Innoshima, Ikuchijima, Omishima, Hakatajima and Oshima before ending in Iwabari City in Shikoku. Experienced cyclists can enjoy the numerous islands dotting the route, and there are no big climbs to challenge them. A bicycle rental system is in place where visitors can rent any of several types of bicycles, then drop them off at twelve terminals along the path if they wish to continue on by bus, instead. There are even kid’s type and electrically-assisted models available.

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9 Must-Ride Rollercoasters Of Japan

June 3rd, 2010 by

A combination of engineering superiority with a national need for stress-relieving entertainment has made Japan a center for record-breaking roller coasters. These thrill colossi the centerpiece of any amusement park, and easily the most popular attractions in the area. Japan’s desire to cutting-edge coaster technology has made a Mecca of Asian thrill rides, drawing enthusiasts from all over the country and the rest of the world.

Here are nine  must-experience rollercoasters located in Japan:

Fujiyama - The world’s tallest rollercoaster boasts an initial 230-foot drop, with a 65-degree angle that subjects riders to speeds reaching 80 mph. Being the world’s longest rollercoaster as well means the ride lasts relatively long. Fujiyama is located on Fuji-Q Highland in Yamanashi, near the base of Mount Fuji.

Fujiyama

Photo courtesy of scion_cho:

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Exploring Japan on the Kyoto Rail Tour

May 26th, 2010 by

Are you short on time to spend in Japan? Do you want to find a way to see as much of the country as possible, without breaking the bank or spending more time than you really have? If so, you may want to consider the Kyoto Rail Tour by Bullet Train.

Where is Kyoto?

DSCF1109 Japan - Kyoto - The highest pagoda of Japan, the Toji temple

The Kyoto prefecture is a city located on the Japanese island of Honshu. With a population of 1.5 million people, and a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan district, Kyoto was at one point the capital of Japan. Today it serves as the capital of the Kyoto Prefecture. Read the rest of this entry »

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