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World Travels: Japan

February 14, 2013

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This week sees me heading to Japan as I start the next section of my round the world tour. Japan is located in the Pacific Ocean to the East of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea, and Russia.

The Map of Japan

The Map of Japan

The characters that make up Japan’s name means ‘Sun Origin’ which is why Japan is sometimes called the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’. Japan has the 10th largest population in the world with over 127 million people and the Greater Tokyo area is the largest metropolitan area in the world with over 30 million residents.

The flag of Japan

The flag of Japan, known as the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’

Japan has the world’s third-largest economy and they are the world’s fourth-largest importer and exporter. Also, Japanese women have the second-highest life expectancy rate of any country in the world and it’s infant mortality rate is the third-lowest in the world as well.

The Shinkansen high speed train. What a beauty!

The Shinkansen high speed train. What a beauty!

While in Tokyo most of you will get to experience the metro system like I did. It took me a while to figure out how that metro/train map worked but after being here for 6 days I think I could even explain it to a local. The ticket machine does indeed have an English button but I have to tell you it’s well hidden. 🙂 Unfortunately though the weather was too cold and rainy most of the time to allow me to make a longer trip outside of Tokyo or to see nature so I couldn’t ride the famous Shinkansen which is their high speed train that goes 250 miles per hour! I’ll have to do that the next time I return but I was able to catch one in the main train station and get a picture (see above). What a beautiful piece of technology!

Cherry blossoms at Hirosaki Castle, Japan

Cherry blossoms at Hirosaki Castle, Japan

There are so many things to see here in Japan so where to begin is tough. If you want an adventure and you’re in Tokyo you can venture onto the mass transit there and see what it’s like to be among the crush of all those people. If you’re not that adventurous, no worries, there are many temples and castles to see such as Hirosaki Castle or Himeji Castle.

City view of Tokyo, Japan

City view of Tokyo, Japan

The national sport here is Sumu wrestling so if you’re looking to experience Japanese culture that should be on the list as well as enjoying the local foods. Japanese food uses staple foods and it is based on seasonal foods as well as presentation. Japan has won more Michelin stars then the rest of the countries combined.

The Japanese diet is one that promotes longevity.

The Japanese diet is one that promotes longevity.

There are so many things to do in Japan from the traditional to the modern that you can’t possibly see everything. That means in most likelihood you’ll want to come back again. So here a just a few things that you could see while you’re here. If you’re not afraid of heights then you might want to visit the  Tokyo Skytree that has two observation decks (one at 350 meters and the other that is at 450 meters). You can see the whole city from there.

Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree

If you want to check out some of Japan’s history then you might want to head to Kamakura where you can see ancient shrines, temples, and historical buildings. Also, popular is Minakami where you can relax and enjoy the mountains and hot springs resorts that are located there.

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There are many historical things to see in Kamakura

Another great place to visit while you’re in Japan is Kyoto. This used to be the imperial capital of Japan but it is now the capital of the Kyoto prefecture and a huge part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area. It is home to almost 1.5 million people and is packed with temples, parks, business districts, markets and regal estates. Kyoto is one of the oldest and most famous of Asian metropolises.

Beautiful Kyoto, Japan

Beautiful Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto became the seat of Japan’s imperial court in 794 and continued to be Japan’s capital until 1869. It was the leading center of Japan for over 1000 years! Due to the fact that Kyoto was spared much of the bombings during WWII it still has many prewar buildings and shrines for all to see and it is also the center of Japan’s television and film industry.

Geishas in Kyoto, Japan

Geishas in Kyoto, Japan

And that’s just a small portion of the things you can do in Japan. So to cover a bit more territory I’ve attached a really nice video below for you to enjoy!

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