The best and most beautiful adventures can be discovered while getting lost.
By: Ethelbert Galang
Sushi, sashimi, ramen an wasabi are only a few of the things one can think of when you say Japanese, in addition to Hatchico, Toyota, and Doraemon and the list can go on and on. This country has been noted for introducing the Anime, Tamagochi, Nintendo, Casio and Anello to the world. I had an opportunity to visit Japan for a week last November 2017, and apart from the list above, here are a few things I discovered and liked about my tour.
1. Castles and Temples
While these two symbolize power from the different ends of the spectrum, both are very visible and well visited in Japan. The famous Takeshi Castle structure is not far from the Osaka Castle, which was originally built as a military artillery, its moot surrounding the castle served as its first defense against those who wants to steal the seat of power. The view from the gates show how modern architecture blends with the old structure.
Kyoto is one of the most beautiful cities in Japan. This charming city will make you feel like you are walking back in time. Apart from ancient temples, and women dressed in kimonos, geishas are prominent in the Gion district . In this area, you will be able to explore the following:
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillon)- though one may be disappointed with the flocks of crowd visiting the Temple, a decent snag of the Pavillion in the middle of the pond may be an achievement in itself. The yellow, red, orange and green leaves will make your visit memorable. And to top it, a taste of Vanilla-Green tea soft ice cream is a must try. I do not like green tea generally, but this one is a bang for your buck.
Kiyomizudera Temple (Pure water temple) – one of the best place one can visit in Kyoto. The place itself contains pagodas and infrastructure that makes your view remarkable. What makes this more interesting will be your eye view of the the city below, which I personally like, particularly if you visit at night. Part of visiting this temple is a side trip uphill in the . Higashiyama district, where many shops and restaurants await the visiting public. A quick stroll down hill to Gion district will be worthwhile.
Sanjusangendo Temple (1,001 statues of Kanin and 28 other dieties). – Though this temple may not be as popular as the first two, a quiet and sacred temple is a breath of fresh air. Cameras and shoes are not allowed inside, thus making you really feel that the area is holy. Although the view on the outside is not as abundant as the other temples, it will be easy for one to take a good picture for keepsake.
Fushima Inari Shrine, – one of the famous tourist go-to places for an Instagram worthy picture. Although the influx of people makes it nearly impossible to capture a moment with the attraction alone, the view from the front is breathtaking.
Bamboo Forest of Arashiyama – time worthy park in Kyoto and was named as one of the 100 soundscapes in Japan.
2.) Shopping Districts
Higashiyama District, Shinshaibashi, Dotomburi and Namba Area and Nishiki Market are only a few of the shopping districts where one can literally shop until he drops with various Japanese souvenirs. For travelers like me who would want to experience what is it to live a typical day, do what locals do, eat what locals eat and see what the local scenes offer, these places are a must-go and must-visit. From street food to clothes, accessories and beauty products, you can never go wrong in any of these places. Just make sure you are prepared for mile-long walks, as good deals may be found on opposite sites.
Japanese food is to die for. I may be biased leaning towards wasabi as my favorite, but eating authentic Japanese food feels like heaven on earth. Ramen, Gyudon and Takoyaki are must try favorites. For the adventurous type, street food eating of unknown delicacies will surely awaken your taste buds.
4.) Universal Studios Japan (USJ)
One thing memorable and remarkable about this place is the Harry Potter section. Starting from the entrance where you would really feel like you’re in the Harry Potter movies to the laser light show at night. Every corner will give you a different feel. For me, I think this is the most time-worthy area in the entire park. A must-see portion. A word of caution though, everything is in Japanese.
5. Getting Lost
What better way to start your first hour in a foreign country than to get lost?
Making our way to our accommodation through Airbnb was a struggle. Aside from the part that almost all signages are in Japanese, arriving at 9pm where almost all of the establishments are closed made the struggle real. Being lost in the cold streets of Japan which lasted until midnight brought us to explore the neighborhood and found ourselves in a labyrinth of food stores, not to mention our discovery of the following:
A. Our accommodation is a stone throw away from Denden Town, a haven for anime lovers
B. Namba Walk is less than 500 meters. It’s an underground shopping district with wide array of souvenirs, clothes and bags.
C. Walking your way to Dotomburi will take approximately 20 minutes.
With all these explorations and memorable destinations to relish, there’s only one thing I can say: My travel to Japan is more than just FUN.