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What to see and do in Japan

Nature

Japan is an island country, so it has the long and changeful coastlines.
And over 70 percent of the land is mountains and forests. Also there are many volcanoes.

So you can see the various nature in Japan.

Near the sea, rocky coast, beautiful sand beach, bay with many small islands, ...
Of course, there are many beautiful sunset spots.

Around the mountain, gorge, rapid stream, active volcano, hot spring, highland, beautiful lakes, ...
You can enjoy the rich forest. And many ski resorts are opened in winter.

Most of the mainland of Japan is located in the temperate zone.
Cherry blossoms in spring are well-known, and the colored leaves in autumn are also beautiful.

But Hokkaido is in subarctic zone, and Okinawa and Ogasawara Islands are in subtropical zone.
We can see a kind of a characteristic nature in these areas.

Snow Japan : The Japan winter sports guide and community.

Buddhist temple and Shinto Shrine

Buddhism and Shinto are the main religions of most Japanese people.
We believe both.
So any city, town, village has Buddhist temples and Shinto Shrine.
These are the base of Japanese spirit.

Buddhism was introduced around 6th century from China.
So Buddhist temples have been built since that time. And many Buddha statues have been enshrined in the temple.

Shinto is the religion based on Japanese gods.
The gods are the heroes and heroines in Japanese myth, and the natures such as mountain, rock, stone, waterfall are also the gods.
They are enshrined in each Shinto Shrine.

Castle

Japanese castles were originally military forts.
They developed in the 14th to 16th centuries, and became the residence for the lord of the local area.
And many samurais serving him lived around the castle, and they guarded the lord and the castle.

After civil war period, feudal Edo Government was founded in 1603.
Since that, the castles were changed to the governing base of each local area.
The lord of the area live in the castle, and the castle was the building of the local government.
Samurai towns surrounded the castle, and many government offices were set up.
Samurais were public officials.

And the town of general citizens was formed around the castle.
Many of local cities has been formed so. And the castle is the symbol of the city now.

But after the feudal period, modern government demolished most castles in the 1870s.
And many preserved castles were destroyed by air raids in the World War II, unfortunately.
Now following only 12 castles are preserved as the original castles.

Hirosaki / Matsumoto / Maruoka / Inuyama / Hikone / Himeji /
Matsue / Bitchu-Matsuyama / Marugame / Matsuyama / Uwajima / Kochi

In many other cities, the castles have been restored as the symbol of the city.

Japanese garden

Japanese garden were built in the site of castle, villa of the lord, and Buddhist temple.

Large ponds are in the site, and various rocks and stones are set up around the pond.
Forests, hills and a few huts are arranged in the site, and some trails are around the pond.

Western gardens show artificial beauty naturally, but Japanese gardens show natural beauty artificially.
But like Ryoanji and Ginkakuji, there are the gardens with abstruct scenery.

Old town

Traditional Japanese houses were built of wood.
Kondo and Five-story Pagoda in Horyuji temple are the world's oldest wooden buildings built in the 7th century, but they are very special.
Fire, earthquake and decay destroy wooden houses easily.
And many cities were destroyed by air raids in the World War II.

Even Kyoto has few old town.
Tokyo was destroyed by the great earthquake in 1923 and great air laids in 1945.
Hiroshima was killed completely by A-bomb within a few seconds in 1945.

So we can find the old towns in many local cities and towns.
They are often called "Little Kyoto" or "Little Edo".
Each town is not so wide, but we can feel the old Japanese scenery.

Onsen (Hot spring resort)

Japan is a volcanic country, so there are many hot springs all over Japan. In Japanese, "onsen" means "hot spring".
There are more than 3,000 hot springs in Japan, and many resort areas has been formed around the major hot springs.

Japanese people like to bathe, so many of them take a bath every day.
And the ultimate level of luxury has been to go to onsen resort and enter the hot spring with healing power. Particularly, to soak in the outdoor hot tub is one of the greatest pleasures to onsen lovers.

Even now, many of popular travel destinations of Japanese people are onsen.
When you visit Japan, you should go to onsen.

Oyu Monogatari : Webste about onsen in Japan.
OnsenJapan.net : Independent onsen reviews, hot spring recommendations, Japanese onsen photos, guided onsen spa tours.

Traditional Japanese Culture

Japan is in East Asia with Korea and China.
But Japanese culture is quite different from Korea and China.

Of course, underlying cultures such as Buddhism, kanji characters, oriental thoughts were imported from China.
And from the ancient times to the middle ages, Japanese people had created own cultures based on them.
(I'm sorry that some Westerners often express Japan in their works of pictures or dramas with mixing Chinese culture.)

In performing art, they are Kabuki, Noh, Kyogen, Japanese dance, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, and so on.
In sports, they are Sumo, Judo, Karate, and so on.
In Japanese life, they are Kimono and Japanese cuisine, and so on.

Of course, you can see or experience them at the appropriate place in Japan.

Pop Culture

Japanese Manga and Anime are popular in the world.
They have high quality with a story line.
But some popular works in Japan had been criticized by other country because they included some violent or sexual scenes.
Despite this, many young foreigners like Japanese manga and anime very much.

Manga and anime are used in video games, so they has created "otaku", "cosplay" and "goth-loli" (Gothic and Lolita).
And they had created "maid cafe", "butler cafe".

Of course, the trendsetting place is Akihabara.
If you are interested in the pop culture, you should visit there.

Japanese people

Recently, we take a Japan-bashing sometimes.
I think that it comes from difference in value. But it's unfortunate that uncomprehension makes Japan a bad country.

When you visit Japan, I think you feel that most Japanese people are friendly.
Basically, Japanese people have hospitality for guests.
And they observe the social rule, and the cities and towns are tidy.

During your stay in Japan, please know real Japanese people.
I guarantee you will visit Japan again.





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