As the world is at a standstill, I was pondering about the destinations I visited last year and what makes them so unique. The first destination that flashed to my conscious thought was Japan.
By Hetal Gandhi So, what makes this country stand out from others? The sights, the budget or the happening nightlife? Well, as per me, it is the warmth and love of the people which attract tourists most and compels them to visit again and again. A country where ancient tradition and modern life coexists in harmony.
One can experience the world’s best TOTO (toilets), super trains, robot technology, exquisite landscapes, more than a hundred festival celebrations, perfect traditional cuisines, you name it and Japan has it all! This Asian island nation is highly recommended for your bucket list of destinations to visit. With All Nippon Airways & Japan Airlines providing direct connectivity, it makes it further closer to home. Uber cool technology at airport may overwhelm you in the first sight but when that emotion subsides, you realise that the planning is meticulous and the facilities extremely user friendly.
Japan Rail Pass is the most convenient way to travel around and a trip on Shinkansen, the Bullet Train, is a must in every itinerary. If you plan to visit multiple destinations, you may choose to travel luggage free and enjoy the luggage delivery service to stay away from the hassle of carrying it on your own. This service is especially coming handy for travellers with kids or elders.
JAPANESE CUISINE IS QUITE RELISHING. THE TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUE OF COOKING, COMBINED WITH FRESH PRODUCE AND ART OF ASSEMBLING THE DISH PRESENTS A MOUTHWATERING EXPERIENCE. JAPANESE, LIKE INDIANS, ENJOY EVERY SEASON AND EACH SEASON HAS ITS OWN TASTERS.
Kaiseki are traditional Multi course meals restaurants that are considered fine dining places. Japan is also a vegetarian’s paradise and is highly recommended to experience the local cuisine. Miso Soup Sushi, Udon, Wasabi, Rice Crackers, Tempura are some of the popular dishes. For most Indians, like me, food is priority and especially if you are a vegetarian, however you will be surprised to know that even the smallest of cities have Indian restaurants.
While talking about the food let’s not forgot the traditional ‘Sake’ which are available virtually at all Izakaya (pubs) bars & restaurants.
Don’t miss out on treating yourself the natural way in the bubbling hot springs ‘Onsens’ which are very popular with the locals. The country boasts of more than 3000 hot springs. Enjoy the invigorating bath and let the soothing power of water heal you.
While selecting your accommodation you need to keep in mind that the hotel should be walking distance from the station. Another critical point to keep in mind is the kind of breakfast the hotel is offering – Japanese or Continental.
While visiting cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fuji you may choose to visit the small quaint towns close by which are easily accessible by JR. A visit to Japanese castles is also recommended as the experience will take you down to the Edo period and tell tales of Samurai battles.
You can marvel at some of flowery blossoms at the Japanese Gardens which come alive with an exhilarating display of lights and sounds at night. Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kinkakuji Temple, Senso-ji Temple are few of Japanese Temples which are very unique and a must visit.
MUST DO IN JAPAN
RIDE IN SHINKANSEN || ONSEN EXPERIENCE || VISIT TO QUAINT TOWNS AND VILLAGES || TRADITIONAL DINING EXPERIENCE AT KAISEKI || DRESS UP IN A KIMONO || ROBOT SHOW NINJA SHOW/ TEAM LAB SEA DISNEY FOR KIDS || SHOPPING AT LOCAL MALLS / MARKETS
For tourists with kids, amusement parks like Sea Disney, Universal Studios, Doremon, Aquariums are indulging visits. Teamlabs, a popular immersive museum known for its colorful, futuristic digital art installations and photo-ops is also worth a visit. Based on interest, a Robot Show or a Ninja session could be quite thrilling.
If you are planning a trip during winter, you can discover Japan’s snowy tale. For skiing and snowmobile enthusiasts, Japan offers excellent snow-clad mountains. Fun in snow also includes snow shoeing, sledding, snow rafting and exploring the wilderness on snow cats. Ski Resorts are located in and around Hokkaido, Sapporo, Tohoku and are extremely popular.
If you are travelling between late January an early March visit the ethereal lamp lit snow huts at Yunishigawa Kamakura Village which is open to travellers who want to dine in their own Kamakura.
While COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges and currently the tourism is fully halted, I derive comfort from the resilience of mankind. When the borders open, taking basic precautions and local precision, Japan will be one of the first few destinations to welcome tourist from across the world. I am looking forward to a great Tokyo Olympics 202ONE.
Hetal Gandhi is an avid traveler who has explored more than 50 countries, having spent more than 18 Years in the tourism industry. Based out of Mumbai, she runs a Boutique Travel Company “Zion Vacations” and her company curates unique travel experiences for avid travellers. She also does Destination Management & Product Development consultancy for travel trade and is an active member of BNI (Business Network International).
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