When many people picture the beautiful scenery of Japan, they imagine the swaying springtime blossoms of ume, or plum, and sakura cherry trees. While the flowering white, pink, purple, and red trees of spring do bespeckle the landscape with breathtaking color, there is another turning of the seasons in Japan that is not to be missed.
What is the best time to visit Japan? This is a common question among first time travelers. Many would say that the sakura cherry blossom season in the spring is the best, and it is certainly among the most popular. However, there is another feature of the changing season in Japan that is not to be overlooked.
A favorite Japanese pastime is called momijigari or koyo – both are terms describing the viewing of autumn leaves in Japan. Continue reading “%s”
Thousands of Buddhist temples dot the Japanese countryside and inhabit its cities. According to one resource, “virtually every Japanese municipality has at least one temple, while large cultural centers like Kyoto have several hundred.” Many are hundreds of years old, others well over one thousand.
Temples typically consist of a number of halls and structures. Gates mark the edges of the temple grounds. The main hall of each temple is used to display sacred objects, such as statues of Buddha, gods, or goddesses; pagodas are used in a similar manner. Lecture halls are used as places of meeting and teaching. Some temples are still used as monasteries, home to Buddhist monks.
As an island nation, Japan is, not surprisingly, culturally and historically tied to the oceans and seas. For countless centuries, the waters along Japan’s shores have provided its people with foodstuffs and the transportation necessary to connect with the rest of the world in trade and commerce. Today, this connection to the sea lives on in Japan’s numerous modern aquarium attractions.
Have you ever seen a whale shark, one of the largest fish alive today? What about orcas, polar bears, and penguins? You can see these amazing animals and more in Japan’s aquariums.
People throughout the world are familiar with the famous Japanese cherry blossoms. They may have attended any of the numerous cherry blossom festivals held each year in the United States and elsewhere, or they may have thrilled to the sound of “Sakura Sakura”, a traditional Japanese folk song celebrating this beautiful flower.
Before the cherry blossoms emerge, however, another beautiful tree graces the island of Japan. Mid-February is the start of spring and the beginning of the plum blossom season. If you want to see the plum blossoms in 2018, keep on reading!
Japan is a land rife with history and relics of the past. In nearly every city and town, you will find landmarks, museums, and historic sites that display the country’s culturally rich past. In fact, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared more World Heritage Sites in Japan than in any other country.
One of the most interesting and breathtaking elements of Japan’s history is its castles. Unique architecture and fascinating family stories accompany each site. Consider the following list of Japan’s most visited castles.
The world over, national parks are popular tourist destinations. What is a national park? By one definition, it is “a park in use for… the conservation of ‘wild nature’ for posterity and as a symbol of national pride.” Japan is home to 33 national parks in addition to 50 similar parks.
Japan’s first national parks were dedicated in 1931. These parks allow you to experience the full range of the country’s rugged beauty—beaches, forests, mountains, and volcanoes—with locations ranging from the cool northern reaches of Hokkaido to the subtropical islands of Okinawa.
Japan is truly a captivating country where the past meets the future in seamless harmony. Only in Japan can you go from having your dinner served by robots, to traveling through the picture-perfect and quiet countryside.
Discovering Japan is understanding the many nuances that make this country unique, so to help you prepare your trip we have gathered a list of important information you should know before your trip to the land of the Rising Sun.
Sapporo is the fifth largest city in Japan and capital of the northern island of Hokkaido. In less than two centuries, Sapporo has enjoyed rapid growth from a settlement of only seven individuals to a thriving metropolis.
In the language of the Ainu people, indigenous inhabitants of northern Japan, the word Sapporo means “an important river flowing through a plain.” Today, however, Sapporo is known for much more than its river. In 1972, this city hosted the Olympic Winter Games. A snow festival is held yearly, and Sapporo is also famous for its ramen and beer.
Scenic lakes and historic castles – that is the setting of the small Japanese town of Hikone. Situated on the shores of the nation’s largest lake, Lake Biwa, in the Shiga Prefecture, Hikone is steeped in natural beauty as well as historical relevance.
Hikone is famous for its remarkably well-preserved castle, which goes by the same name as its host city. Hikone Castle is, in fact, one of the five Japanese castles designated as national treasures. This honor – “the highest designation for cultural properties in Japan” – is due to its unique combination of architectural styles.
Okayama is a city where history meets modern technology. It originated as a castle town during Japan’s Edo Period, which spanned from the early 1600s to mid-1800s. Today, Okayama is the second largest city in the region, being somewhat smaller than Hiroshima. It is a railroad transportation hub, located at the junction of the Sanyo Shinkansen Line to Shikoku’s only rail connection.