Where to visit and what to do in Japan, the new top reasons list

If you are looking for reasons to travel to Japan, then look no further then this highly refined article from a foreigner who has holidayed in Japan and now lives in Japan. When I first started this blog, the very first post was about reasons to visit Japan. Since then, I have discovered more of its hidden culture and surprises. A revision to the original list was needed, so here is the new Why go to Japan post.

The thing I have come to find most interesting about Japan, is how the country can be so ultra-modern technologically, while juxtaposed with tradition and culture. This is the thing Japan does best of all and tops this revised list of reasons in this Why go to Japan post.

Why go to Japan? Reason #1: Japanese culture

As a tourist, it’s all about Japanese culture. From the castles, temples and shrines, the authentic restaurants and festivals, experiencing Japanese culture is the number 1 reason for coming to Japan.

Sanjuusangendou view from the temple gardens.
Sanjuusangendou temple in Kyoto, a view from the temple gardens.
  • A visit to Kyoto is a must. If you don’t go to Kyoto, and for example, only visit Osaka then do check out Osaka Castle, or whatever the major castle of the area or city is.
  • Temples and shrines are everywhere and are never far off the main tourist track.
  • If you travel to Japan in their spring (around April) then you must see the cherry blossoms, or go to a cherry blossom festival. If you do not travel to Japan in spring, then find out what festivals are on and go see them, you will experience great local Japanese food and culture.
Why go to Japan? Castles! Osaka castle.
This is the famous (and huge!) Osaka Castle, surrounded by moat walls and cherry blossoms. Most cities and towns have a castle.

I just have to mention Kyoto again… one summer (see all the articles from my summer holiday in Japan) I went there 4 times, and there is still so much that I HAVE TO go back and see!

There’s so much to discover in Japan:

Why go to Japan? Reason #2: Technology

Along with a rich tradition, Japan is the birthplace of many technologies, from the Toyota Prius (check out the interactive 3D experience of the new Toyota Prius Alpha, just press the CLICK HERE button when you are on the site) to the famous electronic “washlet toilet“, to perhaps the even more famous bullet train (Shinkansen, the newest E5 Hayabusa started service in March 2011, the E6 Hayabusa bullet train is about 1-2 years away).

The best, cheapest and easiest way to experience the bullet train is to buy a Japan Rail Pass. The pass gives you access to travel on most shinkansen services and are available for 7, 14 or 21 days.

Japan also has, on average, the fastest internet speed in the world. I guess this is because it is geographically a small country, and the penetration of fiber optic is very high.

For the traveller, everyday you will experience this technology. It could be a ride on the bullet train, it could be the fancy touch screen pad or “dumb waiter” used to order your sushi (which arrives at your table on a mini-bullet train), the automatic bath (which fills itself and keeps warm) or any other number of hidden technologies that just make travelling so convenient!

More cool Japanese tech:

Why go to Japan? Reason #3: Food and drink

Japan’s unique cuisine is world famous, especially sushi. Some of my favourite Japanese’s foods (which are extremely difficult to find outside the country) are Okonomiyaki (often referred to as Japanese pizza), Hiyashi Chuka (a cold noodle dish that is great summer) and Miso Ramen (Japan’s version of the famous chinese noodle).

To accompany your meal, try a Chu-Hai (fruit flavoured carbonated drink) or Umeshu (fruit liquer) or one of the good nama (draft) beers such as Asahi Super Dry or Yebisu Premium Gold.

This is one of the reasons that has been identified since living in Japan. I’m pretty sure that the concept of all you can drink would be illegal in Australia. Best experienced at either an Izakaya (traditional Japanese drinking establishment, which serves food and drink) or at a Yakiniku (which means grilled beef in Japanese). Here you can have all you can eat, called tabehodai (Kanji = 食べ放題, hiragana = たべほうだい, romaji = tabehōdai) and all you can drink, called nomihodai (Kanji = 飲み放題, hiragana = のみほうだい, romaji = nomihōdai).

Yakiniku - beef grilling in process
You might get about 3-5 small pieces of meat per serving, so make sure you keep the orders coming…

After getting a table, order some nice beef. It will be served raw at your table, and it’s over to you to do the grilling. It isn’t just limited to beef though, there is some amazing chicken, pork, seafood and vegetables.

Yakiniku - a table full of beers and food, with beef grilling in process.
Yakiniku – a table full of beers and food, with beef grilling in process.

In no time at all you will have a table full of delicious food and drink. Make sure you keep the orders coming, as the servings are small.

See more of Japan’s tasty food and beverages:

The revised list of Why go to Japan wouldn’t be complete…

…without adding that Japan needs tourism now more than ever. In my opinion, some of the mainstream media has been overly sensationalist when reporting on the nuclear disaster. However the radiation risks are limited to a 20-30km radius around Fukushima in the north of Japan. A long way south of that is Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and many of the best places to visit.

So come visit Japan, and decide for yourself the best things about this wonderful country!