Japan overview Reviews
"Japan- a place that gave me my biggest travel disappointment" Apr 14, 2011
"of all the places that I've seen, Japan gave me my biggest travel disappointment..."
Since i was young, one of my dream destinations is the “land of the rising sun”. I am always fascinated with its uniqueness and culture. I am always amazed with its modern hype and technology. And, i am always craving for its food!
Early this month (March 2011), i visited this wonderful country. My sole intention was just to site-see... but, surprisingly, I experienced more to what I was expecting. Yes, Japan really has the all the things a traveler is looking for: perfect views, unique culture, nice people, diversed attractions, and of course, good food. Although, one might hesitate to plan a trip to Japan because of the cliché that everything in Japan is expensive, i am telling you, that idea is half-baked. I might somewhat agree to that statement, but, whatever amount that will come out of your pocket in that country, i am 100% sure it’s worth it. Simple explanation: “ what you pay, is what you get”.
If you are looking for fun and excitement, well, of course, that is the main reason why you traveled in the first place (unless it is a strict business trip), you can just find it anywhere, and.. it is cheaper by the dozen!
When I was planning for my trip, i had a very hard time making my itinerary. I was so eager to see all the places and sites, but, i have a pretty limited time. I did my best efforts to squeeze in all the attractions and sites in to my half month long trip schedule. It’s just impossible to see all the attractions of Japan in just fifteen days, so , i have no choice but to rank them all according to my interest so i can eliminate the least. It was a tough decision to make, and i’m quite sure every traveler had experienced this dilemma.
Another very important thing to consider is the budget. Since i know that the prices in Japan is quite higher that most other countries, i took note of the value of my prepared money for Japan. It will for sure lose its value or purchasing power dramatically when i get there.
I would like to see all the best places in Japan (those who survived my list,of course), and mind you, these places aren’t located in just one area. With the vast land territory, its gems are scattered on different areas. Therefore, expect to have lots of transfers and traveling from one site to the other. What’s good is that Japan has a very wide array of transportation means... and all of its major areas are interconnected with a sophisticated railway system. With this in mind, i decided to avail of the Japan Rail Pass. This all-in-one passport for all JR trains(which includes the shinkansen or bullet trains), buses and ferries under the JR Company will give you an unlimited access for seven days (14 and 21 days are also available). The price of which is very reasonable that it is only a couple thousand yen more compared to the price of one roundtrip shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Osaka. Imagine, unlimited access to all JR public transport for seven days! This is one of the great deals that i recommend and must-haves if you are planning to go to Japan.
If there are three places in Japan (aside from Tokyo) that you should never miss, it will be Hiroshima, Nikko, and Kyoto.
TOKYO: for me, this is the modern Japan. You will see the advancement of this nation in technology when you visit this very busy capital. They say that your trip in Japan will never be complete without trying to cross at the Shibuya Crossing- the busiest street in the World. Approximately one million people walk down that pavement everyday. Unbelievable but true. If you are an anime’ fan. Visit Akihibara. This is also where gadgets-too-good-to-be-true are found. Yes, this is the kinda’ “techy” place in Japan. I strongly recommend that if you’re in Tokyo, maximize on modernity attractions, just like how Lonely Planet suggested it.
HIROSHIMA: this is where is saw one of the best scenic icons i have seen in my life. From Hiroshima proper, i took the ferry to Miyijima. The Floating Torii Gate will take your breath away. I found a good spot with the perfect view... truly, conducive to reflect and daydream! I sat on one of the bench that faces the sea and the torii, the serenety and ambience- undeniably perfect. The "almost seven hours trip" from Tokyo via Shinkansen is more than worth it. By the way, do not forget to check the A-dome freedom park, right at the center of Hiroshima. The Museum is also a must see. one of the best and "touchiest" i've seen so far.
KYOTO: for me, this is the "old and real" Japan and this is where i met a real Maiko (apprentice Geisha) –considered as one of the highlights of my trip. Great Temples and gardens here are cheaper by the dozen too. I strongly recommend that you visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. A very unique place shaded by the calmness and grace of tall bamboo grass. The Golden Pavilion will also amaze you, for sure. If you have plenty of time, walk by the path of Philosophy. At night, stroll the streets of Gion, and if you are lucky enough like me, you might see a Maiko who will be willing to pose with you infront of the camera.
NIKKO: it was snowing when i visited this place. Though very cold, i can’t help but be astonished and mesmerized by this UNESCO site. Yes, the whole area is a world heritage site. Truly amazing. Magical and Beautiful. The snow that caps the wooden torii and the five-storey pagoda is like magic dust that transformed the whole place into wonderland. The temples and gardens are just so magnificent. By the way, when you get to Nikko, instead of taking the bus to the site (from the station),i suggest that you walk. It’s about 45 minutes by foot from the station to the temples. With this, you will not miss the red bridge. You will understand what i mean. When you get there. Remember, from the station, WALK. Do not take the bus.
One of the things that Japan is so popular about is the Food. As a traveler and an adventurist, Foodtrip is always part of the itinerary. Sushi is obviously the main food attraction, and i would say, it really deserves to be one! Sashimi and tempura will make you forget your name while beef yakiniku will let you remember it again as the tender juicy meat melts in your mouth. Ramen and Yakisoba will leave you teary eyed after gulping the sake in one shot. I may be a little biased since Japanese food is my personal favorite, but, it is not enough to say that Japan really is one of the most “delicious” countries in the world!
Over-all, my experiences and adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun were remarkable. May it be sites, sounds, people, or food... Japan just got me. and i voluntarily and helplessly fell for everything it offered. So,you may be wondering why did i say that Japan gave me my biggest travel disappointment? simply because she has a lot more to offer and i am already too amazed and stunned! i was disappointed that i did not have enough time to see everything. i was disappointed because i should have insisted in inviting my other friends and family to join me in exploring it,. now, i feel so shabby of not pushing the luck that deprived them to see and experience the magic of japan.
I was not stunned by its beauty and diversion... because I was moved. I was not welcomed well as a tourist by the Japanese... because they treated me as a friend. I was not completely happy with satisfied with what i experienced in Japan... because i would like to experience more. Yes, in short and simple language, in my short stay in the “land of the rising sun” , I fell in love with it.
Japan, i believe, is a place one MUST see and experience. Absolutely amazing. Truly unique . Simply Extraordinary.
"of all the places that I've seen, Japan gave me my biggest travel disappointment... but, i think you are an idiot if you will not see it even just once in your life..."
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