Reliving the natural habitat and scenery

  

Kamikochi in Japan

Old Japan used to be symbolized with ponds filled with carp, valleys filled with mist and onsens hidden in the vast thick forest. It is now being overshadowed by the modern image for Japan, a bustling city filled with neon lights and never ending building of skyscrapers. It is also being filled with high tech supermarkets and super fast bullet trains. Many fancy modern inventions have since replaced the old Japanese image, which includes vending machines for raw lobsters, patrolling vans blasting out at top volume propaganda messages and nappies especially for dogs. It completely erased the old Japan from memories of the citizens. To visit and truly experience Japan, one must factor in travelling time to big busy metropolis such as Tokyo and Osaka. Amidst all the modern hype, one must need to escape the modern world once a while to rejuvenate the soul and brain by going back to natural habitats and rediscover the original beauty of Japan. There are plenty of nature spots perfect for travel groups in 5 or less members.

First on the list is Kamikochi. It forms part of Chubu Sangaku Japanese National Park (or known to outsiders as Japan Alps Park). It is located in Nagao prefecture. It is actually a highland approximately 1500 meters right above ocean levels. Many go there for its scenic view and many replicate the view in the form of watercolor paintings. You can rediscover you sense of purpose in life and find deeper meaning to you journey in life, away from the mundane working culture. Rivers clear as crystal displays peace behind rolling hills. Boats docked beside piers come in different shapes and sizes giving you the perfect photo worthy pictures. The best period for visiting would be around autumn as that is when amber hues surround the forests.
The next destination spot is Akame shujuhachi taki. It is known's as the 48 Akame Waterfalls to outsiders and located right around Mie prefecture. The name represents all the waterfalls collectively, no matter the size. Breathtaking views await the travelers as rocks covered in moss can be seen against a backdrop of gushing river and dramatic gorges. A few good hours is required for one to roam you way on the 4km walking trail along the river. The riverside trail is the perfect spot for escaping the summer heat in the cities. It is also the perfect spot for catching the cooling breeze. One can feel free to dip inside the refreshing river water at the lower side of the waterfalls. Beware of trout tickling you toes as it may get ticklish. Generally it is a fun experience to dip yourself in the cooling water. One would be able to reach the waterfalls by taking the train line from Namba train station location in Osaka all the way to Akameguchi. From Akameguchi the place can be reached within a 10 minutes' walk.
Iya Valley is another great nature spot located on Shikoku Island. However many dispelled the official title as nature's paradise due to the ongoing construction and noisy hammering. Despite all the accusations of not being a good nature spot, it is actually a great place to relieve from the city stress and concentrated crowds. Driving would be the best mode of transport around the area.
You can plan your own travelling pace by making occasional stops at hot spring outdoor baths along your travels. If you fancy an exciting ride, there are vine bridges awaiting travelers which can be pretty mind-blowing. It is a good spot for traveler looking for adrenaline rush and the adventure of crossing the gushing river will make the trip an extremely memorable one.

 

9 Top shopping destinations

  

Ginza shopping japan

Tokyo is the shopping haven among all major cities with high end fashion, traditional crafts, made in Japan only souvenirs and gadgets that many lust for. There are many Tokyo neighborhood that can satisfy all your shopping cravings be it department store window shopping or used goods.

The first famous shopping destination is Ginza. It is the home for posh boutiques for example Dover Street and Mitsukoshi. Itoya is a place not to missed with nine stories full of supplies. One can find endless barrage of toys at the infamous Hakuhinkan. There is a mixture of posh shopping area and more common shops retailing common crafts which reflect the city's varied consumer culture.
The second place Is Asakusa. It is the dwelling place for artisans and merchants. Its streets are littered with tight lanes and alleyways. There are wide range of good for sale ranging from vintage curios to beautiful shopfront curtains. Souvenir hunters can try the gift shops at Nakamise-dori. There are long rows of little stalls supplying quality unique Japanese made souvenirs.
The third place would be Kagurazaka. It is located a few stations from Shinjuku, and buildings are fairly proportionate to human levels. Walking past the slope at Kagurazaka coming at Iidabashi station, one can find stores selling geta or wooden sandals and purses crafted from kimono fabric. There are also dyed textiles from hand and other accessories. Deep inside there are also stores selling puppets and sweets, sandwiched between pharmacies and pachinko parlours.
The fourth shopping haven is Roppongi. It is known for bars and pick up spot, as well as housing the city's interesting showrooms. Some of the more famous dining and entertainment areas are Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. Interior design lovers can patronize the Axis Design shops and galleries. One can also pay Japan Sword a visit for a peek at samurai weapons.
The fifth spot would be Daikanyama and Naka-Meguro. It is located near Ebisu and has a host of café and fashion boutiques. Naka Meguro on the other hand, just minutes of walk away has more secondhand goods and lounge bars. One should visit Vase for its cultural pieces.
The sixth famous spot for shopping is Shibuya. It is a hot spot among teenagers who are into the teenage trend. One might feel overage being 30 and above, but is nonetheless a good experience. Music shops are everywhere and outrageous apparel can be found at every corner. Hip kids can be spotted at every corner posing and flashing their latest apparel. For those looking for teenage wear, feel free to visit Shibuya 109 or Fake Tokyo. For those looking for gadgets, be sure to pay Tokyu Hand a visit.
The seventh hot spot is Shimo-Kitazawa, located just southwest from Shibuya. It is popular hangout for artsy people and restaurants. Several famous stores converge here including Shimokita, Haight and Ashbury and Otonomad. For all your shopping needs with diverse treasure, be sure to take a look around Shimokita Garage Store Department, a covered market with unique stalls.
The eighth popular shopping destination is Harajuku and Aoyama. It is the home for the ever popular Harajuku girls as well as boys. There are myriad of eccentric shops selling secondhand goods. You can find good deals for souvenirs at Tokyo's Tokyo, clothes and accessories at Sou-sou and high fashion at the final parts around Omote-sando.
The ninth shopping destination would be Shinjuku. It can be energy consuming for most people shopping around Shinjuku. Lights and noise accompany your every step once you alight from the trains and step outside of the station as malls and stores cover every inch of the streets. The scene is similar to a busy casino full of patrons. There are awesome shops located right at the heart of Shinjuku and perfect for all you shopping needs. There is Isetan, the revered store in Tokyo. There is RanQueen, store suitable for all ages. There is Disk Union, a place for music lovers to shop till they drop where it is filled with music CDs. Huge variety of electronics can be found here too. Be sure to visit Kita Kore for its fashion store collections. Last but not least would be Akihabara, also known to many as the electronics hub for Tokyo. The district is increasingly popular among geeks (otaku) who loves anime and manga, as well as J-Pop. Mandarake Complex is a large complex housing all the stores specially for the geeks. Book lovers would love to visit Jimbocho which houses a little less than 170 plus bookstores. One can also find souvenir bazaars along Akihabara.

 

Tokyo tour for the Budget Conscious

  
Chiyoda Japan
One will definitely look with a pair of skeptical eyes when they heard that there is a link between cheap and Tokyo. Tokyo is known as an expensive metropolis with high food cost and skyrocketing rentals which will put much strain in any Tokyo traveller's budget. However, there are ways to get around without having to eat just plain rice every day in order to have a fulfilling Tokyo experience.
First on the list is settling your sleepover needs through the night. Internet sites are very robust and accommodation providers have all gone high tech by listing on webpages. Shop around in the online space many months earlier diligently as room rates can have volatile fluctuations and you may be able to get a good deal depending on current demand and the specific day you are making the booking. More budget accommodations are usually located far away from train hubs and you may have to contend with the noise and smaller room. Some of the highly recommended places include Sanya, described as an old hood located north from Asakusa. Juyoh Hotel has decent clean rooms for traveller with low expectations and requirements. Traveller can also consider Hotel Accela or New Azuma. For those in the Chiyoda (photo) area a cheap stay can be obtained at Sakura Hotel. Browse around travelling sites for good deals.
Getting the best food deals is also essential to satisfy everyone's 3 meal per day requirement. Sushi served on conveyer belts offers reasonably priced sushi made in advance. Tachiqui, or stand up noodle shops offer delicious noodles that is guaranteed to fill your stomach. Sakata is revered as the classic noodle hot spot in Tokyo. Their sanuki udon is also a must try item that will make you wanting more. Street stalls can also be found around Tokyo where you can grab cheap drinks and small bites (think yakitori or grilled skewered chicked). Head over to any of the pubs (aka izakaya) for a quick refreshing alcoholic drink. Lunch hour menu are usually at least half the price compared to dinner menu and you can eat your hearts out by devouring fresh sashimi served at noon. Look out for restaurants having long queues outside as longer line means higher quality food and lower prices. There are vending machines that sell all imaginable items and a can of kirin beer is only half the cost compared to the bar.
Watching movies at cinemas or getting a game at bowling alleys are expensive affairs. Instead head over to Sony building for free console playing sessions for the latest games on their trademark PlayStation consoles. If you really want to watch movies, be sure to ask for offers and discounts available for children, students and senior citizens. Same goes for museum tickets. For nature lover, head over to Imperial Palace for their magnificent East Garden sights for a temporary escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Entrance is free of charge. If you need to stock up on snacks and toiletries, stop by large supermarkets or 100 yen per item shops that will give you the best bargains over convenience stores. Hunt your souvenirs over at flea markets and antique fairs. One can try out Nogi Jinja or Azabu Juban flea markets.
Do not take taxis unnecessarily and always strive to get by walking around. Ren a bike if possible as there are dedicated bicycle lanes all over the city. Always keep in mind the operating hours of subway where they halt their lines from midnight to 1am. Save you budget from taxi rides and use the subway to get around. For those wanting a complete tour of the city, you can always purchase a Rail Pass offered by Japan Railways. That way you can reach multiple destinations at a much cheaper fare.
Peak travel season for Tokyo happens around December to January period, late April to early May period and middle of August. If you want to save up, avoid the abovementioned travelling period. Do not procrastinate on looking for the best travel deals online and plan as early as possible. Utilize all great sources for local deals such as local publications Tokyo Journal or Metropolis.

 

Tokyo around Yamanote Line

  

Tokyo around Yamanote Line

Tokyo which is the capital city of the innovative and technologically savvy country, Japan, is well known as a major attraction centre for its modern technology applications that are applied to the public in the city. Technology is a public amenity in Tokyo it can be said. A visitor to the city who wants to see it with all its modern advancement and diversity, all needs to do is take a ticket, and ride along the Yamanote Line. It is different in every aspect from others be it the one station from other or the east from west or the south from north.

The Yamanote Line is a railway track that is running since 1925 and forms a loop in the heart of the city separating two aspects of the city: the downtown side of Tokyo defined within the railway loop and the residential housing aspect that lies outside the loop. A ride along the iconic Yamanote Line is a well-recommended way to see around Tokyo as suggested by its civilians.
The Line connects 29 stations in all, carries millions of passengers every day and runs between stations within few minutes when the hours of commute are at their peak. There's no doubt in saying that Tokyo's functionality and high profile workability is massively dependent on this line. But as said, Yamanote Line doesn't just serve the functional needs of Tokyo. It also provides a window for tourists travelling within the city to speculate the entirety of the capital by taking you on a journey right from its high rising modern buildings that leave you awestruck for sure, to the street low life or the more covert intimate side of the city. Once a person has travelled across all the 29 stations along the line, the perception of a city the was coherent within itself as a sky scraping fast lane land of organisation and advancement, which changes to a truly amazing city which is composed of a collection of small diverse towns each with a different story of its own to tell. Which is why commuting on the line as a tourist, you'll be suggested to drop by at every single station on the Yamanote Line if you really want to know Tokyo as Tokyo is.
Visit places such as the Meiji shrine at the Yoyogi station, the shopping spot for youth especially the teenagers at Harajuku, the signature Tokyo Tower at Hamamatsucho station, Imperial Palace at the-the Tokyo station, Yebisu garden place at the Ebisu station, the park well known for it's mesmerising cherry blossoms the Ueno park along with Ameyoko shopping street at the Ueno station, the what-is-called 'old Tokyo' Nippori at the Nippori station and a lot more which can be experienced once you hop the Yamanote trains and let the railway tracks guide you while the engines of the train drive you. It is the best way to see the best of Japan.
And while you are at it, travelling around Tokyo spectating a fine city in a train along the loop, do make sure to visit the Imperial Palace and the East Gardens to be a part of the Japanese culture. It is where the Emperor of Japan and his family reside. But the palace buildings and the gardens are open to public only on two dates; Jan 2 and Dec 23. On these two dates, the royal family can be viewed greeting from their balcony
It's certain to say that Yamanote is much more than just a commercial purpose serving facility in Tokyo. It's Tokyo's beating heart without which the city won't be able to survive a day.

 

Sakura season

  

Sakura season japan hai

Kyoto is reminiscent of ancient Japanese, complete with bamboo groves, traditional Zen gardens, streets and lanes populated by geisha and many Buddhist temple structures at various locations. Already a booming travelling hotspot, Kyoto will see surge in tourist arrivals during the cherry blossom period every year without fail. It is considered a Japanese distinct culture where thousand flock over to the best spots for picnic parties. It is a symbol of spring arrival, where sakura are formed which decorates the rivers of Kyoto and dramatically changes the garden scenery which resembles a coat of fairy floss.
Cherry blossom has long been associated as culturally significant to Japan only. 100 yen coins are imprinted with cheery blossom images and it is used as a motivational campaign to spur nationalism spirit among Japanese during the Second World War. It is widely believed that cherry trees blooming are a symbol of how short life can be and a timely reminder that one should appreciate the importance of time. Cherry blossom has a deeper meaning where it calls for reflection on our achievements and to always plan ahead and not waste any precious time. Moving on from philosophical discussion, it is a time where commercial brand popular in the Japanese home country seize the opportunity for launching products related to Sakura. Examples of launches include Sakura Frappucino by Starbucks or Sakura based Kit Kat filled with white chocolate topping with a tinge of cherry flavor.
Hanami, a tradition deeply rooted in Japanese culture, has no defined official start date, but its depiction has appeared in classic literature. Its first appearance is in Tales of Genji, a Japanese literature classic first written around 12th century. Locals will have their own good time partying and organizing all-day picnics while breaking free from their conventional hardworking routine. All you need for a good time during Hanami parties is to get ready with some beer and bento box available for sale from the closest convenience store. Kyoto has plenty of awesome viewing spots for one to fully immerse in the sakura culture. Be mindful of the huge crowd you will encounter on the popular viewing spots. One good tip to take into consideration is claiming your spot by arriving early with a decent picnic rug. Booked spot is honored by picnic goers and will remain yours for the remainder day.
First in the list of top viewing spots is the Kodai ji. It is actually a Zen temple strategically located at the Higashiyama region. It is credited with being the maiden temple to launch in the dark illuminations where gardens are filled with multicolored spotlights during the night. It allowed viewing of cherry blossom to stretch all the way into nighttime. A famous path named Tetsugaku no michi which stretches for 3km along a tiny river located in the east side of Kyoto is another highly recommended viewing spot. The name originated from a century old philosopher by the name of Nishida Kataro, and links Nanzen ji to Ginkakuji temple. It is famous pedestrian path decorated with blooming cherry trees and its reflection is clearly seen from the calm waters. It is the perfect spot for admiring the natural beauty.
At the bottom of the western mountains of Kyoto lies the Arashiyama region which is regarded as a great tourist spot due to the magnificent bamboo groves and stunning foliage views. Tourists flock to the place all year round, but arrivals really surge ahead during the sakura season. People will get on the Togetsukyo Bridge for a good unobstructed view of the trees so be sure to avoid the main path less you want to be surrounded by hordes of humans. Food stalls selling Japanese snacks are operated throughout the night and the area will be lit with bright lights for maximum viewing pleasure at night.
Around the southern region of Higashiyama, there is another magnificent spot names Maruyama Koen. It is perfect for those seeking peace and tranquility after having a tough long day visiting temples all over Kyoto. However, the cherry blossom period will draw huge crowds and the park may be noisy owing to its huge popular weeping trees. The most optimal viewing period is from March to April, and spans no longer than 2 weeks. The period for blossoming trees is short and swift, and progresses from southern to northern region of Japan. Japanese Meteorological Department will closely monitor the progress every year and issues status report every night on the news. More information can be gathered from forecast releases issued by the Japan Tourism Organization.

 

The Japanese slopes

  

The Japanese slopes

The conditions may not be so ideal for skiers and snowboarders in the United States. It is not the case in the eastern side of the world as the conditions in Japan are just right and may be even perfect. The ski resorts in some parts of the island were open and receiving plenty customers until late March. Unlike the shabby conditions in the western world, Japan has gotten an ideal amount of snow fall this season reaching approximately five meters.

On Japan's most northern of its main islands, Hokkaido, sits Mount Niseko Annupuri. This is the location of the Niseko ski resorts. These resorts have the longest season in Japan. They are normally open way into the early weeks of May. Complimented by the conditions provided by the peak makes the spring skiing in Niseko among the best in the world.
The Niseko peak is famous for its quality and consistency in great conditions for skiing. In the last ten years the peak has become very famous among the Australian skiers and boarders. The yearly visitors to Japan has reduced significantly following the Tsunami and earth quake of 2011. Is has only been recently that the population of visitors are returning and in their great numbers. The center of Hirafu is usually crowded with skiers and boarders alike with property developers transforming the small village into a resort center but it has been quite empty with a lack of activity for the last winter season.
The chairlifts and gondolas of the Niseko peak position skiers and boarders in the perfect position to tackle the slops. It will take about twenty minutes of hiking to get to piste slopes. This area is linked to the trails and roads of the mount's more remote sections. The Hanazono resorts provide a backcountry skiing run for all, including beginners, the Strawberry Fields forest run. This area is never without thigh high powder that is easily accessible. Mount Niseko is home to three other areas the Niseko Village, the Grand Hirafu and Niseko Annupuri and they too offer trails suitable for everyone at any level. The Grand Hirafu offers a variety of ungroomed trails that include the Miharashi expert run. The trails winds into a trail called the Holiday and is one of the longest trails offered by the mountain and stretches longer than two and a half kilometers. The combined length of trail offered by the all areas of Mount Niseko add up to 48 kilometers.
To the southeast of Mount Niseko Annupuri you can find Mount Yotei. This mount is preferred by professionals and powder hounds. It will take approximately five hours to reach the peak and it is usually visited by the skiers and boarders that seek fresh backcountry powder.
Skiing is not the only fun to b had on the Niseko. The Apres Ski might be just as fun. Nothing is more comfortable than a nice hot bath in the cold of winter. There are three baths in the area and the Niseko Yu Meguri pass will give you access to all three for only a bit over a thousand yens. This includes the Apres-ski, the Yu meguri and the Niimi Onsen that is a remote bath house that offers comfort and serenity to all its bathers.
Ezo Seafood is located in Hirafu and they serve only the best they have to offer in seafood delights. This includes snow crab legs, Akkeshi oysters and fresh sashimi of every variety. The Gyu will provide you with a variety of beverages from mulled wine to Hokkaido's single malt whiskey. This is a well concealed cottage like bar that is practically invisible in the snowy area. On Ishikari Bay that lies in the north you can find the Otaru fishing port. It is seventy minutes' drive from Hirafu and it is worth the drive. The area is one with a vintage feel with the Sushiya-dori completely devoted to selling sushi. Lake Shikotsu is only two hours' drive from Hirafu and is one of the deepest lake in Japan second only to one. This location is in an underdeveloped park area that boast the likes of the Marukoma and the Ito onsen that overlooks the caldera. This is the perfect spot to end your visit slow boiling out the aches of the body in a vintage style bath house.

 

Best Japanese Features and Cultures

  

Best Japanese Features and Cultures

Life in the land of the rising sun can be stressful but there are more to just mundane work. One of the best things about Japan is Hanami, or the cherry blossom period. During spring season, the weather is beautiful with the cherry blossoms within you sight along your travels. Japan has some of the most innovative Kit-Kat flavors and there are countless flavors to choose from namely Passionfruit, Matcha, Sakura or Spicy Citrus. Nighttime is unusually silent and calm where people return to their homes after 6pm. Japan dog breeds such as Shiba-Inu are cute and polite and friendly to strangers. Train efficiency in Japan is the best in the world where you can travel to any parts of Japan anytime.

The public parks have good facilities for exercising, for instance public gymnasium and running path. Japan has countless theme based dining option ranging from prison cell setting to school classroom. Romantic dining options are also common. Food in Japan is generally good in taste. Nomihodai is where alcohol drinkers can drink all they can within 2 hours for a fixed price. One is guaranteed to have an overhang with such great deal. Karaoke lounges are everywhere in the cities and you can sing your hearts out and enjoy the music with you close friends, all while drinking up.
Okonomiyaki is a pork based dished served with shrimp as well as cabbage. It is eaten together with awesome barbecue sauce. Some of the best Okonomiyaki can be found in Kasuya at Fukuoka Prefecture. There is a beautiful shrine called Dazaifu Tenmangu and is popular among students having major exams where they will pray for knowledge and wisdom. It is located in Kyushu. Plum blossoms are around the compound which gives a great view. During the Winter Equinox, women clad in ancient robes will perform a dance to entertain the guests. Japanese culture involved superstitions and there are many amulets and palm reading service for protection against bad luck. For those looking for honeymoon spots, be sure to check out the beautiful Kyoto. Small bars that shaped like a telephone booth can be found in Japan. Purikura is a photo booth vending machine where you get your picture taken and printed on a sticker against a backdrop of fancy colorful setting. There is the Village Vanguard where all kinds of Japanese merchandise are sold. In Japan festivals are common during summertime and it is just another day's common affair once you get settled in. Advertisement involving a giant doll manned by human in a suit can be seen in the streets of Japan and it is a common sight as well. Tipping for service is not a requirement in Japan compared to in the US, and service is fast and waters are ever friendly to accommodate any requests.
Kaitenzushi is the sushi place delivered by conveyor belt and you have to get used to self-service. The price is cheap due to limited staff on standby. Flying to other Asian countries can be a very cheap affair due to the various airlines serving all major Asian routes. Travelling in Japan involves a lot of walking and it is one of the best ways for experiencing the Japanese culture. Keep an open mind when in Japan where you will encounter strange phenomenons. Package delivery is fast and convenient and you can order anything online and have it delivered within days. Convenience stores or Konbinis are situated at every corner of the street that saves a ton of hassle if you need any last minute purchases. Cicadas roam the streets where these insects of the size of hummingbird will be filling the air with their buzzing melody. Kotatsu, or table heater are good devices for warming yourself during the chilly winter. Combine that with Nabe, a boiling hot soup and you will be the happiest person during the cold weather. Colleagues in Japan office often give food items to each other and are part of the Japanese hospitality. You can forge friendships from international citizens ranging from Australia to France and have the opportunity to have a globalized perspective over current issues. Friends will help you when you are in need no matter where you go and they prevent loneliness and culture shock.
Supermarket Jazz played via computers is a common feature in Japan. Fish is a staple food and you eat them even for breakfast. Onsen or hot spring baths are some of the best spots to wind down and socialize with close friends. Japan has unique seasons every year starting from the cherry blossom to plum rain seasons. Giant ancient castles are preserved and open to public for viewing makes Japan a hot spot among history buffs. In restaurants waters will serve wet-wipes instead of dry paper towels which is great. Game lovers would love to try out the famous game called Taiko Drum at the nearest arcades where you make loud musics during the gameplay. Night life in Japan is lively and you can stay late every day and can get home easily from the taxi services. Japan has many romantic spots for lovebirds, for instance the lantern filled street at Kyoto. Shrines are located at most random places, where you will encounter one just few blocks away. Finally there is this promotion going for 100 yen for 12 eggs which is a great deal for bargain hunters.

 

The Beautify Surrounding of Mount Fuji

  

The Beautify Surrounding of Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji, as the highest mountain in Japan, is the most famous place for a tourist destination. As famous as the beautiful mountain, it is also being a famous historical site. Let's dig deeper around the mountain, which has a very lot of sites and exciting spot. This volcano mountain surrounded by three prefectures, which is Kanagawa prefecture, Yamanashi Prefecture, and Shizuoka Prefecture. Each of the Prefecture has saved a mixture of history, scenery, and a lot of activity to be done by the tourist. Losing the chance might be pitiful since it will be awesome and memorable. The camera is number one included on the top of the list.

Kamakura
This city becomes famous because of its historical background. It has been a place for shikken (the head of the authority charges) during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) by the shogunate. This city with the coastal line is also one of the proliferation of Buddhist religion, which made a lot of shrine or temples around. One of the famous is Tsurugaoka Hachiman. This temple was built under the authorization of Minamoto Yoritomo on 1191, in order to worship the God of War, Hachiman Daibosatsu. This temple located in the center of the city. There's a famous promenade from the shrine to the sea, as long as 1,8 kilometers called Wakamiya Oji. This promenade becomes a backbone of the street network nowadays. There's also a bridge behind San no Toori gate as the inheritance of the Shogun. There's a canal underneath the bridge, which linked with two ponds, and each of it represents of each feuding clans during Yoritomo period. This Shinto shrine of Tsurugaoka Hachiman has become a Buddhist Temple for centuries.
To the southwest of Tsurugaoka Hachiman, there is a big temple of Kotoku-in. At this temple, there's a famous giant statue of Daibutsu, the statue of Amida Budha. It is 11,4 meters high and made from bronze. It's been there since 1252 but has no luck with the hall, which has been destroyed by the storms and tsunami. From Tokyo, Kamakura can be reached by train for one hour.
Mount Oyama
Located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Mount Oyama has been a sacred place to be worshiped. Nowadays, it becomes a spot for mountain climbing, which represents the great view of mount Fuji on top of it. Mount Oyama is 1252 meters at the peak, and when it's clear, we can look at the Boso Peninsula and the skyscrapers at the central of Tokyo. Other than climbing, the tourist can ride a cable car, which looks so classic, to go to the mountain slopes and leering the temple there. Mount Oyama is 90 minutes away from Tokyo, tracing the Odakyu line from Shinjuku to Isehara.
Hakone
Located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Hakone presented the famous onsen, or the hot spring. Tour to Japan won't be completed without soaked in the onsen. Besides that, there're two big art museum and tall ship cruises. You can also see the scenery of mount Fuji from here. The Hakone open air museum is really great to see. There's a large art sculpture spread all across a lawn scape. There's also a collection with a mixture of Japan and West collaborate in a modern art like Rodin and Miro. A huge hand knitted in wonderful color won't escape the look. The last-added museum in Hakone is Okada Museum of Art, contains a lot of artworks by Okada from Japan, Korea, and China. Hakone is two hours' length from Tokyo (Shinjuku Station).
Fuji-Yoshida
This city is located at the Yamanashi Prefecture, this city built from lava flows from mount Fuji. It has become a spot for spiritual gathering for the pilgrims. Surrounded by cedar trees, along path spread ahead the Old Yoshidaguchi Trail for 19 kilometers. At the end of it, there are Fuji Shengen Shrine. The shrines along the trail stamped a white robe inside, which usually use to climb (it also use for the death). There's an annual festival every 27 August, called Yoshida no Himatsuri, or the Fire Festival. This festival held to appease the Goddess of Mount Fuji and let her not to erupt. Fuji-Yoshida located two hours by bus from Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Tokyo Station.
Fujinomiya
It's another climbing spot to mount Fuji. And the first climb by non-Japanese people ever recorded (by Sir Rutherford Alcock) in 1860. There're some waterfalls in Fujinomiya, with the biggest and famous one is Shiraito Falls. This beautiful waterfall formed from the drops of the melted water underground from mount Fuji.

 

Okinawa Southwest Islands cuisine

  

Okinawa Southwest Islands

Most people are familiar with standard Japanese delicacy such as sushi or ramen. Okinawa has unique offerings which gives you a different taste for Japanese food. The culinary style evolved from combination of subtropical climate in Okinawa and island topography. It has also evolved as key historical events occur such as independence from Japanese ruling until end 19th century, trade connections with China and US occupation during World War 2. Its local fare combines influences from Japan mainland, Korea, US and China. It is said that Okinawan delights can lengthen the lifespan. Fish and other seafood are not the main ingredients. Pork is made the main dish ingredients. Seaweed is also a treasured delicacy.

The first Okinawan food favorite is brown sugar. It has been in production for centuries. They come from sugar cane harvested in areas rich in minerals. It has beneficial iron and calcium content that is pleasing to the taste bud as well. It is often used for making sweets or ice cream. It can be used for tea as well. Eating It raw is also an option that will give you much needed adrenaline boost. Okinawan doughnuts are small in shape and filled with black sesame and coconut or sweet potato. It is best eaten fresh and hot. Most restaurants serve them together with ice cream. Sweet potato purple in color is another highlight. They are a loyal ingredient to many local Okinawan dishes. They come in different shapes and sizes in the form of ice cream, doughnut or sliced chip.
Another top delicacy is the Okinawa soba. It is thick and white in color. They are best eaten with hot broth boiled with pork. It is tasty and nutritious. Extra flavoring can be added such as chilli peppers or pickled ginger. Mozuku seaweed is also worth mentioning. It is usually eaten raw as serves as a side dish, combined with sesame seeds. Eating the seaweed coupled with tempura would form the best combination. It is light and delicious. Tender seaweed coated with crispy batter would make a hearty meal. Bitter melon is another delicacy unique to Okinawa. It is bitter, as the name suggests and not suited for certain people. It takes time to appreciate the taste. It has high levels of vitamin C. It is usually served with tempura or as a side dish. Goya beer can be made out of the melon juice and it is well loved by many travellers.
Awamori is a rice liquor without sugar. It was first produced during the Ryukyu Kingdom's reign and exported to China about few hundred years back. It has high levels of alcoholic content, up till 80% but tastes mild and mellow. It is a good social drink consumed at dining events. People usually drink it after dilution with water. A recent recipe was made to combine Okinawa brown sugar to form plum liquer, rich in taste and intensity. Awamori can also be served with ice cream with raisins as toppings.
Shikuwasa is a citrus fruit best consumed during summer time. It is served with ice and extremely sweet and addictive. Freshly made shikuwasa juice are better compared to the pre-packaged vending machine bottles. It can be used as sashimi sauce, or mixing with rice liquor. The fruit actually resembles a lime, but plumper. Its taste is hard to describe, most refer it as a fusion between lime, lemon as well as grapefruit.
Coffee is another local Okinawan drinks delight. It has its famous roasted Coffee 35. It can be found at selected cafes around the Naha region. Try out a café named 1-15-23 located at Tsuboya, where the digits in the shop's name literally means coral. Coffee used are locally roasted using coral, and 3.5% cut of profits is channeled towards preserving corals around all the islands.

 

Ogasawara Islands - hot tourist spot

  

Ogasawara Islands

Not many people will expect seeing clear dark skies dotted with shining stars, clear blue sea and romantic sunsets when they travel to Japan with their friends and families. There is a hidden wonderful spot just for the observing nature's beauty lying just 1000 kilometers south from Tokyo, the bustling city of Japan and the place is none other than Ogasawara Islands.

Ogasawara Archipelago, or more commonly known to locals as Bonin Islands, was awarded the prestigious World Heritage site title. It is located in the center of Pacific Ocean. The distance may seem far away from Tokyo but the Islands are considered a member of the Tokyo prefecture. Human footprints and local dwellers populate the small islands such as Chichi Jima as well as Haha Jima. If you take the ferry from Tokyo, you will be docking at Chichi Jima. It is an island well developed for tourist arrivals and houses Japanese restaurants and plenty of fine accommodation. It is a popular spot for travellers looking for breathtaking beaches. Haha Jima, on the other hand is more but it is a great place for solitary confinement and peaceful outing. Ogasawara Islands is definitely a heaven for nature enthusiasts. The islands have multiple seaside activities that you will not get tired of ranging from snorkeling to kayaking. Great adventures await you if you fancy forest hiking as well as observing whales.
There is no better spot for snorkeling and diving at around Ogasawara Islands. Divers are in for a treat as they are able to spot rare manta rays roaming the seabed of the Islands. Plenty of unique sea creatures await the patient divers ranging from sea turtles to whales. There are also beautiful coral reefs all around the island. Chichi Jima is the best diving spot one could find. Diving packages are available and you can take your time to select from the best operators. As for snorkeling, one should visit Miyano Hama as well as Tsuri Hama where the beaches are the undisputed kings. They are accessible via foot just over a hill. Miyano Hama is a good spot for beginners looking for more shelter. Tsuri Hama on the other hand has more rocky beach but offers better coral.
Whale watching is and activity not to be missed. Do not miss the sighting season from January to April every year if you crave to see the great humpback whales. Be wary of the cold weather in January as well as February which is not conducive for island exploration. Sperm whales can be sighted from May right to November. Whale tours are widely available from multiple operators. One could just indulge in swimming non-stop around the beaches just west of Chichi Jima. Copepe as well as Kominato Kaigan are attractive spots. One could also hike up a mountain trail to witness the sparkling white sand from John Beach. Make sure that you bring enough drinking water supply as the walk by take more than 2 hours.

 

  
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