10 reasons to visit Japan…

I am from Australia and recently travelled to Japan for a holiday (UPDATE: I actually live in Japan now… check out my new top 3 reasons to visit Japan list!). In terms of traditions, we borrow from elsewhere, in terms of historical architecture there is nothing older than 250 years. Travelling to Japan was a chance to visit a country that is most steeped in tradition and culture of their own country – deeply proud and very generous people. It is a challenge and a massive reward holidaying here. So much so that I am now planning on returning to live.

There are so many reasons to visit Japan. Here are my top ten reasons why you should travel to Japan.

1. City, night lights and shopping.

Visit Japan and see Shibuya/Tokyo Shopping at night
Major shopping hub at Shibuya in Tokyo, near Shibuya 109.

The first of my top 10 reasons to visit Japan is really hard to justify on camera. But the shopping here is something very different, Shibuya 109 is a mutli-storey shopping centre just for teenage girs. And Akihabara in Tokyo is know solely for its electronics and games.

2. Festivals.

Sakura (Japanese Cherry Blossom)
Sakura (Japanese Cherry Blossom) during the spring festival in Osaka.

Although in this list of 10 reasons to visit Japan I include only one example of a festival, Japan has many and they are very unique. From the snow and ice festivals in Sapporo in the north and more ancient/traditional festivals with priests and shrines, Japan loves the celebrations!

For more information see Wikipedia’s article on Japanese festivals.

UPDATE: New post ‘Japanese cherry blossom – photos and info‘.

3. Robots, gadgets and all things tech.

Sony AIBO Robot Dogs
Sony AIBO, robot dogs at Roboworld in Fukuoka
Standard Japanese Toilet
Western style Japanese toilet with myriad of controls. Known in Japan as the Washlet (ウォシュレット Woshuretto).”

If you visit Japan, you will encounter one of these Japanese ‘washlet’ toilets. They really should be all over the world! Very hygienic, although it took a few times to get used to the water jets…

UPDATE: New post ‘Hello Kitty Robo‘.

4. Castles, temples and shrines.

The black and gold Okayama Castle
Okayama-jo, black and gold castle called ‘Crow Castle’ or ‘U-jo’.

5. Efficient transport and the shinkansen (bullet train).

Hikari Shinkansen
JR Central’s Hikari Shinkansen.

Riding on Japan’s bullet train was actually at the top of my mates 10 reasons to visit Japan. Riding along at 300km/h or more, it feels more like air travel than rail travel.

The best, easiest and most cost effective way to experience the bullet train is to buy a Japan Rail Pass. You have to buy the pass before you enter Japan, learn more about the JR Pass, find out costs and buy one online.

Bicycles parked in Okayama, Japan
At the opposite end of the speed scale, bicycles have right of way on the roads in Japan.

6. Japanese food and drink (especially Yebisu beer).

Yebisu beer and takoyaki (octopus in battered balls).

Yebisu (pronounced ‘eh-bi-su’) is my favourite Japanese beer, there are a lot of good quality beer in Japan, including beers that aren’t beers… take a look at the Japanese Beer Difference article for an explanation.

7. Manga and anime.

Shelves of books at a Japanese manga store
Just a small part of a multi-level book store in Okayama

8. Astro Boy.

Statue of Astro Boy
Statue of Astro Boy (named Atom in Japanese) outside Kyoto train station.

9. Architecture.

The Amazing Green Building - ACROS Fukuoka
ACROS Fukuoka – the green side.

By the way, Fukuoka in the south of Japan is a great place to visit – it’s not too far from Hiroshima.

10. Origami, ancient traditions and art.

Origami Crane
A tiny origami crane sitting on the bar of a nightclub in Fukuoka

This post marks the beginning of a series of posts, about my trip to Japan. I went to Japan for a holiday for about 1 month. Almost daily I would go to an internet cafe to find something to do – being in a non-English speaking country meant things to do were hard to find on the internet. My site ‘Japan Travel Mate’ aims to provide information on what to do and how to do it when you are in Japan.