Japan

Japan

Cherry Blossoms provide a beautiful frame of Mt. Fuji, Japan. Photo by JJ Ying

Japan is the most intoxicating place for me. In Kyoto, there’s an inn called the Tawaraya which is quite extraordinary. The Japanese culture fascinates me: the food, the dress, the manners and the traditions. It’s the travel experience that has moved me the most.”

–Roman Coppola

 

Japan is a place where tradition and innovation blend seamlessly. Picture yourself navigating the energetic streets of Tokyo, where you can find cutting-edge technology side by side with peaceful temples and serene gardens. Then there’s Kyoto, where ancient shrines and beautiful geisha districts offer a glimpse into Japan’s rich history.

Japan’s natural beauty is truly special. Hike through the Japanese Alps, soak in a hot spring in Hakone, or marvel at the cherry blossoms in the spring. And the food! From fresh sushi at local markets to exquisite kaiseki meals, Japan is a paradise for food lovers.

Each region has its own unique appeal. Explore the historic Himeji Castle, experience the lively festivals in Osaka, or unwind on the peaceful island of Hokkaido with its stunning landscapes and winter sports. Contrast this with Okinawa’s tropical beaches and vibrant culture, and you see why Japan is so diverse.

Our travel stories will take you deeper into the heart of Japan, inspiring your next adventure in this fascinating country.

  • Do I have to sleep on the floor? Is there only one bathtub for all the guests? What's with all the different slippers? These were just some of the questions I had about staying in Japanese ryokan before a recent trip. Minshuku are similar accommodations, offering tatami mat rooms with futons, but these traditional inns are often family-run with simple amenities, like shared toilets and bathing areas. It turns out that staying in Japanese-style lodging unveiled the delightful hospitality of my hosts, introduced me to all kinds of new foods, and offered more luxury than I expected.

  • From botanical gardens to open-air museums with reconstructed villages, amusement parks have long been part of the mantra, ‘work hard, play hard’. They have been a place to escape the toils and responsibilities of everyday life (a sorely tempting offer, right now). The latest addition is Ghibli Park, scheduled to open in November 2022.

  • Tokyo is keeping pace with the rising popularity of ecotourism. A fabulous new eco-friendly park was opened recently and its reputation is growing.

  • At the end of my backpacking trip through Japan, I had three days to spare with no idea what to do. I had already explored the very south (Hiroshima) as well as all major landmarks around the central part of this beautiful Asian country (Mount Fuji, Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo).

  • Yokai can be summarized as Japanese spirits or spectres, deeply rooted in historical Japanese mythology yet still depicted in art and culture today.

  • Bathing and onsen culture in Japan is a unique aspect to Japan’s heritage that can be easily enjoyed by both visitors and residents.

  • Japan has been in the news a lot regarding it’s fight with the coronavirus that resulted in the subsequent postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games. But what is really happening in Japan? How do the Japanese feel about all of the recent events? World Footprints contacted a family member, Chuck Johnson, who has lived in Japan for nearly two decades, provided some insights and answers. What Chuck has to say might surprise you. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Chuck Johnson is an action film actor and stunt trainer based out of Tokyo, Japan. He is the first African American to make an international name for himself in Far East Asia's action film industry and also the first American to be trained extensively in the art of Katana Tate (Japanese theatrical swordplay) in Japan. Chuck has had a multitude of TV and film roles in Japan, including the upcoming [...]

  • For many countries, street food is a must, but should a person who buys their food on the street be able to walk the streets while eating it? This is a question officials in Japan are trying to answer, especially for the tourist hot spots such as Kamakura in the Kanagawa prefecture. Kamakura is located about 19 miles southwest of Yokohama and is known to have some of the more popular temples and beaches. City officials passed an official order that bans visitors from eating and walking in Japan. The move is in response to the leftover food and packaging that trashes up the area, luring in animals and creating a mess locals must take care of. The order has been posted in public areas to raise awareness instead of just penalizing travelers for the act. People who violate the request are not subjected to citations or fines. Komachi-dori, which [...]

  • When we think of Japan we generally recall the unique Manga culture, cherry blossoms, bonsais, sushi and the list goes on. However, Japan’s samurai castles are unique architectural treasures that should not be overlooked and must be preserved for historic value. Structures like the Hikone Castle, known as “Water Castle”, feature some very iconic elements such as trick doors and steep stairways.  This architecture is important to preserve because it tells a story about Japan’s cultural heritage. Showcasing this history is what Dr. Jenifer Mitchelhill, an architectural historian at the University of Melbourne in Australia has been trying to do in the past 30 years of her research in Japan. One of her most relevant works, and a great resource for travelers, is her first book “Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty” which gathers some 15 years of photographic documentation focused on Japanese design and all the intriguing stories [...]