How to have an authentic Japanese experience
With the pandemic beginning to recede in many places, the world of tourism is reemerging slowly. Travelers who were forced to cancel trips are beginning to dust off those plans. After a life changing pandemic experience, many potential travelers are considering their bucket list tours.
Japan is one of the most exciting countries to visit in the entire world and on many top destination lists. After all, it’s the only modern civilization that has been secluded from other cultures for over two millennia. Japan has a deeply unique history, a culture that differs vastly from anything we’ve ever known, and an allure like no other country can boast. I think it’s a country every traveler must visit at least once in their life, and experience the enormous offerings of this location to their fullest. In this article, we are going to talk about the places that are definitely worth your time.
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From some of the world’s highest and most numerous skyscrapers, energized avenues that never sleep to peaceful bamboo grooves and ancient temples, Japan has something to offer for every traveler.
The cuisine is strikingly unconventional, delicious, and memorable. The Japanese are incredibly polite and hospitable, and it has one of the most organized and efficient public transportation systems in the world. You will absolutely love the convenience and ease of travel, as well all the peculiar aspects that will strike you as soon as you land in this beautiful land.
Where do I go?
If you only were able to visit just one city, it for sure has to be Kyoto. This is the typical Japanese scenery you see in the pictures all the time: the serene temples and shrines colored in red and gold, bamboo forests spread all over the city, and the most authentic geisha district within the country. Here, you can enjoy a traditional tea ceremony in a wooden house, and feel exactly as you would have had you been alive hundreds of years ago. Walk across the Zen gardens that belong to the Buddhist monks, and if you are lucky, you will be able to attend one of the many terrific festivals that happen year-round in this city.
Of course, you should visit all parts of the old city, but Kyoto is so much more than what is inside the city itself. When you are ready and have recovered from your presumably very long flight (which it is whether you are flying from the Americas, Europe, or pretty much anywhere in the world that’s not near Asia), head out and see the nature that’s outside Kyoto. It’s a land of scenically picturesque beauty, one that has been so unchanged for centuries or even thousands of years. The Japanese themselves have long enjoyed Kyoto’s vast surroundings, and so should you.
In addition to Kyoto, Japan has many other cities that are not traditionally tourist destinations. If you’re the type of tourist who likes to be off the beaten path, you should consider some of these cities. Consider Nagasaki to see some very unique history or Wakayama for some very local culinary experiences. Be sure to see these off the beaten path destinations soon. Japan’s government has begun to develop Integrated Resorts in both cities. Once completed they’re sure to draw larger numbers of tourists and ultimately shift from off the beaten path to popular destinations.
Prepare for your arrival
When you come to Japan, everything is new and quirky to you. In the airport, you can already see the different way of life that’s normal in this country. The people are different, their manners, their ways of living. Even their inner motivations are substantially unlike the ones we have in the West. Instead of placing themselves first and foremost, they are raised to hold the state and their country as their highest object of devotion. They are truly oriented towards their community, and it shows in every action they take.
If you’d like to immerse yourself in their culture and have a good understanding of it when you arrive, it’s better to take some time researching it before you board the plane. Read about their history, which to this day affects Japanese society. For over a thousand years, they had a feudal world order, where the Emperor was the highest being, and every citizen had to worship him, as he was the ruler and the supreme priest of the Shinto religion (the role which the Emperor still fulfills to this day).
Despite being isolated for most of the past two millennia, Japan has a very diverse identity. Religion varies widely between individuals, with many practicing both Buddhist and Shinto. Each person can trace their lineage to a particular clan and tell you the story of their whole family tree. This is why they have so many relatives. Unlike other nations, the Japanese hold their families in the highest regard possible, and they have to keep in touch with all their relatives, both distant and close. You can learn more about their cultural family values here.
Story by Santaro Taguchi