Japan - Your Destination to the Rising Sun
The Land of the Rising Sun has carved its own identity and place in Asia. Despite numerous wars, economic downturns, and zero to even negative birth rates, Japan today has proven to be a country known for prosperity, technology, distinct fashion sense, and culture. Who wouldn’t be attracted by the charms and the advancement in this country?
Whether you are a gadget guy, shopping expert, clubber, Buddhist devotee, or a seasoned traveler, there will always be places and lots of reasons for you to visit this country. You can check out different travel guides, books, blogs, sites that are dedicated to promoting Japanese tourism. Pick out sights you want to see, and things you want to do. Here are some of them:
Where to Go
In 2007, around eight million tourists visited Japan, the highest annual record so far. This number is 13.8% higher than that of 2006. If you want to have a great tour of the country, include some of these places in your itinerary:
Fuji or Izu National Park: One of the places you shouldn’t miss is Japan’s most famous park. Fuji or Izu National Park is located in Honshu and has lots of seaside spas, coastlines, hot springs, historical places, and golf resorts. In addition, you can see the famous Fuji-san, the dormant national mountain of Japan.
Tokyo Disneyland: Welcome to the land of the young and young-at-heart! Anyone who likes to enjoy sights, challenge his or her gag reflex, or go on daring rides will definitely find much pleasure here in Disneyland. This vacation resort and theme park is located in Chiba, Japan.
Shopping Districts: One of the most famous shopping places in Japan is Ginza, complete with its luxurious boutiques, restaurants, theaters, shops, and more. There are traditional Japanese wares on its side streets. Also try visiting department stores like Takashimaya, Odakyu, Keio in Shinjuku, and Mitsukoshi in Nihombashi.
Imperial Palace: Have a taste of the colorful Japanese history by visiting the Imperial Palace, the home of the Imperial Family since 1888. The Palace is open only for two days—on the Emperor’s birthday and on January 2.
What to Do
You can watch sumo wrestling matches. This kind of sport is uniquely Japanese. In the country, everyone knows about it. Outside Japan, hardly anyone knows its rules and the names of the competitors. Every mid-January, the first tournament called Hatsu Basho is held at Tokyo’s Kokugikan.
You can catch the cherry blossom when they start to bloom. Some Japanese believe that being able to catch the cherry blossom blooming will bring good luck to the person. You can witness this every April and May. Famous parks to view this are Maruyama Park in Kyoto and Ueno Park in Tokyo.
You can also go skiing. This is especially exciting for tourists who come from countries with no snow. Have your ski gear ready and hit the snow at Hokkaido or in the Japanese Alps where several ski resorts are located. There is also the Nagano resort for night-skiing.
What to remember
Only a few people in Japan speak English. If you don’t speak Japanese and it’s your first time traveling to the country without knowing anyone who can speak Nihonggo, you had better learn some basic phrases before you leave. Though it is a wonderful country full of friendly people, you will still need to use the basic polite phrases to ask for help. Some of the most common ones are:
- Konichiwa- Hello.
- O-genki desu ka?- How are you?
- Genki desu.- Fine, thank you.
- Hajimemashite.- Nice to meet you.
- Onegai shimasu- Please.
- Domo arigato- Thank you.
- Hai.- Yes.
- Iye.- No.
- Sumimasen.- Excuse me.
- Gomen nasai.- I’m sorry.
- If you want to know counting in Japanese, read how to count in Japanese.
Some tourists prefer to visit the country during spring and autumn because of the blooming flowers and bright falling autumn leaves. The weather is also more bearable. Summer can be too hot, but if you are the hitting beaches, it’s perfect. On the other hand, winter is great for skiing. If you enjoy reading this article, you’ll surely be interested in learning the Four Funky Japanese fashion trends for adventurous fashionistas.