Last Updated: 3rd March, 2019
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With nearly 130 million people crammed onto an island the size of California (pop. 38 million) or Norway (pop. 5 million), Japan has rightfully earned a reputation as being a planet of its own with advanced technology and ideals far beyond western society’s grasp. At the center of the urban jungle is Tokyo, the heart of Japan and all of its eccentricity. One cannot fully conceive the vast complexity of the Japanese culture without visiting this animated metropolis. In addition, various locations in this Asian country boast stunning scenery, animated displays of culture, and exquisite Japanese cuisine.
If you’ve perceived anything about Japan, especially Tokyo, it’s highly presumable that you’ve heard rumors that it’s indeed “weird” and “alien” from any culture you’ve experienced prior. Of course, we can all relate with having that oddball comrade or the crazy aunt in the family. Now, imagine taking every bizarre being you know multiplied by about 13 million people, and further amplify it because like-minded individuals feed off of one another’s peculiarity when incubated in close vicinity.
An exceptional manner of experiencing the eccentricity of Tokyo is via none other than live shows with all of the lights, gizmos, robots, zips, and zahs a curious foreigner could ask for. Particularly, the Robot Restaurant is a completely odd (yet entirely intriguing) night of loud instrumentals, dancing, live anime, hero versus villain battles, and of course, beers and sushi. Furthermore, this won’t be the freshest meal you will have in Japan, but that is not what you’re ponying up the dough for here. You’ll be consequently wide-eyed and mesmerized while trying to decode what on earth is transpiring in front of you so much that you could forget to eat your dinner altogether.
For seafood as out of this ecosphere as the people catching it, all foodies must awaken early and allocate a few morning hours exploring the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market where you’re likely to see creatures that are virtually unheard of in your world. For newcomers, these market grounds essentially double as an observatory live aquarium and exotic fish market. To top of your dawn, stop into either Sushi Dai or Daiwa-Zushi, both delicious eateries inside the market, for a classic Japanese sushi restaurant straight out of the water; moreover, if you see a queue begin to form at the doors of one of these places, jump in line immediately as it will likely be at minimum an hour long wait if you decide to “wait out the line” and return later.
For further entertainment-while eating meals in Tokyo, attempt finding one of the themed restaurants throughout the city. While they are typically hidden from passersby, the abundance of them actually makes it fairly simply to find one. Characters will stand on the side of the ride and convince you to enter a who-knows-what type of place hidden on the twentieth floor of some skyscraper. For example, you could find yourself in a “cat café,” where there are actual felines crawling around lounge areas as waiters and waitresses tend to your coffee, tea, and snack desires. As a side note, you’ll quickly notice that the Japan culture adores cats of all kind, henceforth, the upbringing of teashops bred with miniature domestic petting zoos. Another atypical lunch spot you may find yourself in could be a dollhouse-themed bar decorated with an ensemble of stuffed animals and seductively dressed women dancing to a teeny-bop karaoke version of Garth Brooks’ debut album (totally normal, right?). Wherever in Tokyo you find yourself for a midday meal, I assure you it will be a peculiar and fascinating one at the very least!
Catch the sunset over the skyline from a high-rise, and then venture out into the city nightlife in anticipation of an entertaining evening ahead. A huge staple in Japanese pastime is the fabulous world of hole-in-the-wall karaoke saloons, and the area Golden Gai in Shinjuku provides a jackpot of these hilariously enjoyable bars the size of a walk-in closet. Just outside this nook is a plethora of underground clubs suitable for an extended night of partying, not for the faint-hearted. Whether you spend your holidays rising early with the sun or staying up until it rises, Tokyo has an endless maze of captivating attractions sure to send you home with a wealth of forever-humorous chronicles of Japan to share with curious friends and family.
As the former capital of the country, Kyoto was the birthplace of various essential cultural aspects of Japanese culture. Primarily, you can experience the center of the ancient atmosphere by visiting a tea master.
As a mixture of art, culture, and philosophy are extremely relevant in the ritual of a tea ceremony. Each piece from the attire to the décor and culinary accompaniments are vital factors in the antique rituals. Kyoto hosts several other noteworthy attractions including the Gion District where you can see geishas in traditional attire, the Bamboo Grove lined with gorgeous bamboo trees and forage, the Heian Shrine, and the Nijo Castle that offers an inside tour.
Whether you are from America, Japan, Europe or elsewhere in the world, the intense ambience of Hiroshima resonates with anyone who steps foot in its vicinity. Moreover, the heart of the matter lies in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum where beautiful and powerful artifacts from the atomic bombing of the city on August 6th, 1945. Additionally, the town of Nagasaki holds the same momentum for Japan through the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.
With scenic winding roads touring the blossoming trees, mountainous backdrop, and epic ocean views, Sasebo’s beautiful collection of islands is closely comparable to a cooler version of Hawaii. A fantastic way to relish in the culture and nature of Sasebo is by attending the winter oyster festival every weekend outdoors. At these festival grounds, you can purchase freshly caught oysters, squid, and other decedent seafood that you’ll grill over a makeshift cinderblock-based grill while sipping on a traditional Japanese Asahi beer. Overall, Japan is home to an impressive array of landscapes, personalities, and allures that are guaranteed to satisfy the curious mind of any adventurous traveler.