Discovering Japan

Japan is known for its beautiful cherry blossom trees, Geisha, Samurai and exotic food, but one thing that visitors do not realize is that Japan’s train tracks when put together could stretch for many kilometers.  The process starts by purchasing train tickets to take the ride in and around Japan.  Tourist can purchase their train ticket through a vending machine and at a ticket counter.  The station name on platforms are helpfully written in Kanji, Hiragana and English so visitors will not have a hard time to know where they are and where is their next destination.  Steam locomotive trains are popular not only with kids but adults too.

Moka Railway station is built in the shape of a steam locomotive.  These steam locomotives are powered by water and coal just like the kid’s toy “Thomas the Train”.  From something that belongs to the 1800’s the next train ride to watch out for is on board Shinkansen or the Japanese Bullet Train.  These are a high speed train that run at speeds up to 320km/h.  These bullet trains are said to be safe and functional as well as spacious.  To date, there are no fatal accidents in history.

For a gastronomic feast for seafood lovers head towards Tsukiji Central Fish Market where acres and acres of fish and fish products are sold in a busy environment.  From octopus to giant tuna and endless parades of exotic fishes, this is a good place to hunt for something that a tourist can cook.  No wonder this market is considered as one of the largest in the world.  The live action starts early for this market at around 3am.  Boats coming from Japan, Africa and even America arrive at the port.  Tsukiji is the right place if a tourist likes to have sushi for breakfast.  All the floors are wet so wearing a sturdy and water proof kind of shoe can be the most practical thing to do.  Bringing your camera along would be cool but be reminded that flash photography is not allowed in this market.

A tour of Kyoto Japan will take a tourist to the Imperial Palace where the Emperor and his Empress once resided.  It is also famous for its cherry trees (Shidarezakura).  However, this is open to the public twice a year in spring and fall when the cherry trees bloom.  A tourist can enter the Imperial Palace through the special entrance known as Okurumayose.  Another good place to view the cherry blossoms is at Kiyomizu temple.  Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion temple is definitely another good place worth visiting.  Be sure to arrive before 9am since after this time bus loads of tourists do come to take pictures of this temple.

Niseko is lauded as Japan’s top 5 resorts.  It has a high tech and efficient lift system that can carry a visitor who wants to ski, even during the most extreme blizzard days.  If a tourist plans to ski, he must bring along carving skis with plenty of width in the tips and tails to help him float in the snow.  Bringing along cash is also advisable since there are no ATM machines in this area.  There is another option that of renting high quality ski boards from the Niseko Base Snowsports that can be paid with a credit card.  If a tourist loves hiking, he can choose from climbing the Japanese Alps, the Big Snow Mountain of Hokkaido or climb volcanoes in Kyushu.  Hiking is a Japanese passion.  It is normal to pass by a local hiker making his way towards Kamikochi.  It is a good idea to see the beautiful sceneries when heading towards this direction.

Japan offers traditional accommodations where guests must leave their shoes outside the door.  In the Kanagawa area, one can rent such a traditional place and enjoy the hot springs in Hakone.  Most of the accommodations along Kanagawa area offer the guests an access to the hot springs.  Some of them even offer wooden bathtubs made of Japanese cypress.  A guest can also have access to a personal masseuse.  Just simply log on to the internet and check out the choices of massage services offered for guests who are staying in Kanagawa.  Some cheap hotels do offer these types of services too.

Japan is well known for serving hard liquor for locals as well as tourists.  The best place to have sake, cocktails and other hard liquor when in Tokyo is at Bar a Vins Tateru Yoshino.  For sake beginners, head to Sasagin where an English menu is offered to guests.  The sake comes with other exotic dishes like vinegared mackerel or pear with mullet roe.  For the best Japanese whisky, haven go to Zoetrope.  Their collection is unsurpassed by any other collection in this city.  They offer at least 300 varieties of Japanese whisky.  For a quick drink of beer, go to Brimmer Beer Box, it is a perfect place to rest after a few hours of shopping at Aoyama.

It is during lunchtime when the meals are cheaper in luxurious restaurants.  There are Japanese pubs that are open for lunch as well.  The prices for these meals range from just $5 to $10.  There are less expensive ways to have dinner when in Japan.  Going to an Izakaya might just do the trick.  Dining patrons are served with appetizer style dishes ala carte.  Some of these restaurants specialize in fish or vegetable dishes.  There are plenty of good shops in Tokyo.  The challenge is not to drop while one shops.  Some shops cater towards those that have the extra cash to spend while others cater towards those who are spending on a budget.

A visit to a Sumo wrestling competition might just satiate the appetite for something different and closely identified to the Japanese culture.  Check out the schedules, since Grand Sumo tournaments only take place 6 times a year.  Japan is a good tourist destination at least once in a lifetime.  There is nothing to compare to the dazzling neon signs during the evenings in its big cities and the tranquil feel of its country side especially when the landscape is covered by flowers and a rich assortment of natural colors made by nature.  There is so much more that Japan has to offer any visitor who dares visit this exotic Asian paradise.