There are so many reasons to visit Japan, from the fantastic food to the fascinating history. Read on to discover five reasons for visiting Japan. Dreaming about travel is one of my favourite pastimes. I love planning the adventures that I can go on once I’m not tied down to travelling during the school holidays! And Japan is one of the destinations high on my travel wishlist. I’ve mentioned before that I would love to travel there once the boys are off doing their own thing.
Several airlines fly from UK airports to Japan, so I’d probably choose to fly from Liverpool or Birmingham to Tokyo. From there, I’d take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, and then carry on afterwards to Hiroshima.
The bullet train takes just 2 hours 20 minutes to cover the 318 mile journey between Tokyo and Kyoto. It’s definitely something that I’d want to experience while I’m visiting Japan!
So why is Japan so high on my own travel wishlist? There are so many reasons for visiting Japan, but here are a few of them:
Centuries of Japanese History
High on my list of reasons is the vast history of the country, and there are plenty of historical sites that I’d like to see.
A visit to Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Imperial Palace, home of the Emperor and Imperial family. You can take a tour of the grounds, but the inner palace is only open to the public on 2nd January (New Year’s Greeting) and 23rd December (the Emperor’s Birthday). I’d also love to take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, in a tea house like the one in the picture above. This ceremony is full of etiquette and ritual, and is beautifully choreographed. I’ve watched videos of the ceremony, but it would be very special to experience Chanoyu in Japan.
Kyoto is the old capital of Japan, and lies around 300 miles away from Tokyo. It is famous for Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and imperial temples. I especially want to visit Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine with its path of over 5000 vibrant orange torii gates. This Shinto shrine sits at the base of a mountain and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines.
And I would also want to visit Hiroshima, to pay a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Museum and see the Genbaku Dome.
Bonsai Trees and Zen Gardens
Another reason for visiting Japan is to see some of their beautiful gardens. So I’d definitely want to visit Omiya Bonsai gardens and museum in Tokyo. The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum opened in 2010 and is the world’s first publicly run museum dedicated to bonsai art. More than 100 bonsai masterpieces and bonsai-related artifacts such as bonsai pots are on display in the museum.
Another form of Japanese horticulture that you might already know is a zen garden, like the one in the photo above. It is usually a small garden which is meant to be seen from a single seated viewpoint. Carefully pruned trees and bushes, and composed arrangements of rocks, moss and water features are seen in this kind of garden. Gravel or sand is used to cover the ground, raked to represent ripples in water. Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto has some beautiful rock gardens that I would love to visit.
Sakura in Springtime
If I was choosing a time of year to visit Japan, I would definitely pick Spring. From the end of March to early May, cherry blossom (Sakura) blooms all across the country.
There is a custom in Japan of holding parties outdoors under the flowering Sakura, and the weather bureau even issues a blossom forecast. Those organising the parties keep a very close eye on the forecast, as the blossom only lasts for a week or two. I love the idea of getting together with family or friends underneath the beautiful cherry blossom!
The Ultimate Japanese Beauty Haul
Japanese and Korean beauty is a big trend in the UK right now. You probably already know the brands Shu Uemura, SUQQU and Shiseido, but other brands can be harder to track down.
Japanese beauty products tend to be made from more natural ingredients, and give great importance to the overall look and health of the skin. I’d love to take a shopping trip in Tokyo, to see what goodies I could pick up!
Food, Glorious Food
And finally, Japan is high on my dream list of travel destinations because of the delicious food. Not just sushi, although I’d love to indulge myself with food prepared by a real sushi expert. But I also want to eat Oyako Donburi – a chicken and egg rice bowl with sweet mirin and soy. Or Sukiyaki – thin slices of beef and vegetables in a sweet soy broth. Or Gyoza, or Tamagoyaki…
They’re all foods that I’ve eaten many times here in the UK. Just imagine how much better they would taste if I was eating them in Japan!
Oh, and I really want to go to a deparchika – the basement floor of a department store which is full of all sorts of food counters. Everything from tempura and sushi, to fresh fruit and vegetables, and a huge selection of cakes and desserts. Doesn’t that sound like heaven?