Japan is a country full of beauty and serenity. The natural landscapes will make you fall in love with its complete silence, the cherry blossoms become your eye candies, the food there fills all your cravings and the people there shower their love on you. Come let’s get lost in this beautiful country and thereafter help you in planning your next trip to Japan.
I have jotted down some of the unique experiences which I’ve had in Japan, which can help you in preparing a proper itinerary and have an amazing trip!
Soothe Your Senses At an Onsen
Many of you must not be aware of these therapeutic hot springs known as Onsen’s that Japan embraces. This is one of the most beautiful and soothing secrets that Japan Holds. The hot springs inherit the healing power which holds the secret to eternal youth. The Onsen’s in Minakami has a beautiful setting in the valley with a river flowing across the rooms which will surely steal your hearts. A glance at these images will surely make you feel like planning a relaxing vacation when visiting Japan. The hot-springs are being set up between the cinematic hills and rivers which are a rare jewel of the country, which has worked wonders when it comes to relieving stress and keeping your skin healthy. People there have not come across many Indian’s visiting these Onsen’s and this is why they were kind of surprised to see us there.
p.s: Most Onsens do not allow people with tattoos so check before you book.
Learn to Swing A Samurai Sword
While in Tokyo you can book yourself for training to swing a Samurai sword by a real Samurai. They train you for around 30-40 minutes before you are handed a Samurai sword(in my case a Katana) and you get to test your skills on a rolled Japanese mat. You are supposed to take the training seriously and not smile during it or move after you have swung the sword. I just missed cutting myself as you will see at the end of the video.
p.s. Did you know that women can train but they can never become a Samurai?
Experience The Japanese Culture When Visiting Japan: Kimono dressing and tea ceremony
When visiting Japan dress like them. I had to try the Kimono and you can book a tour where they give you an experience of their tea ceremony and also dress you up in a Kimono. I figured that these ladies have done a two-year course on how to wear a kimono and it’s a complicated process and you need someone to tie it for you. However, these ladies are so good that they can tie their own kimonos.
The Japanese Tea Ceremony is called Chanoyu, Sado or simply Ocha in Japanese. Originally on special occasions, people used to invite the master tea makers home to perform this ceremony for their guests. It is a very prestigious ritual where the master tea maker prepares and serves Matcha tea with traditional Japanese sweets to balance the taste to the guests. The aesthetic compilation of flower arranging, ceramics, calligraphy, and the roots of the Tea Ceremony will take you back into the 12th century. Serving tea is an art and a spiritual discipline.
Get Baffled By The Matcha flavours
People in Japan are high on Green tea and I saw so much variety in how they use it. There is ‘Matcha’ ice cream, noodles, cakes, bakes, shakes and I am sure to discover some more here.
Stay At A Pod Hotel
Though this was a very ambitious attempt, I managed a really reasonable and good accommodation for the first part of my trip. I am usually a luxury traveller but I really wanted to try the concept of a capsule hotel. Pod or capsule hotels are nothing but small cabins like spaces with a bed, lights, and a TV. If you are looking for backpacking options or travelling solo or with friends, this is a great option. I was impressed with comfortable beds, neat, clean and well-equipped shower areas. They even give you a clean night suit to sleep in. So sleep quality is great and while I was staying in prime Ginza the cost of the same was unbelievable. The only issue is that you cannot talk or chat as you can disturb the others.
Ravish A Ramen Bowl
After the capsule hotel, I had no idea that I will get to experience a capsule Ramen restaurant in Shibuya. Each of us had our own booth and stool which reminded me of the booths in jail.
However, we could collapse these windows and have a conversation. The order is taken by a vending machine and the ramen was the best that I have had till now. My hubby first was shocked but then enjoyed his meal. He ate his ramen without the meat as he is a vegetarian though not too sure about the broth. All in all, this is an experience worth trying.
Ride the bullet train
Shinkansen is the term used to describe bullet trains in Japan and it is the best way to travel around when visiting Japan. They run anywhere from an average of 320 kms/hour to 400kms/hour. Before hopping on the train pick up a delicious seasonal bento and a bottle of sake (eating and drinking on the train is a national tradition), and enjoy the landscape as it zips by.
Fall In Love With The Cherry Blossom Season
The hanami or the Cherry blossom season is arguably the most magical time of the year to consider if you are thinking of visiting Japan. The country is covered in pink blossoms, and parks and gardens are filled with people celebrating over sake and seasonal Bentos. The Gorgeous flowers are the main attractions of the festivals but along with that, the arts performed during these festivals will catch your eyes. The cherry blossom starts around January/February and finishes with a late bloom in northern Hokkaido in May. Basically, Japan’s topography changes in this season and the pictures are Instagram worthy. I travelled End of May so missed it by an inch.
Meet A Geisha
Did something that was on my bucket list of things to do when visiting Japan. Geisha is Japanese for “person of art.” A geisha is a woman who goes under training for different art forms that is dance, music, and entertainment. A geisha, when she is working, is just that: the illusion of female perfection. I Met with these two Geishas and even played a game with them. There are just about 100 Geishas in the entire Tokyo limited to 5 areas. I have always wondered that why do Geishas wear white makeup on their face, apparently, in the olden days when Geisha culture was more prevalent the lights used in homes and entertainment areas were dim. They wore bright makeup to look attractive. However, this makeup had a lot of lead then and it shortened their lifespan. I can’t imagine what skin issues they must have been going through.
When you decide to become a Geisha you are renamed after the Okiya production house they join. These two MomoKokoSan and Kiyonosan from the Kakurazaka district danced for us and played games with us.
Selfie at the Bamboo garden in Arashiyama
During my trip to Mt.Fuji, I was told by a French guy that the bamboo passage in Kyoto is a must do and it was on top of my mind since that time. This passage with skyscraper bamboo plants on both sides is stunning in the pictures and in reality too. It is one of the most Brag-Worthy Spots. The walk through this is supposed to be very peaceful and in the peace, you can hear a faint hum. We had tons of tourists as I went there on a Sunday and so that was out of the question. The bamboo passage is located in Arashiyama, it is a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. It also refers to the mountain across the Ōi River, which forms a backdrop to the district. Arashiyama is a nationally designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty.
Themed Hotels- Maid Cafes
Maid Cafes are one of the weirdest yet attractive spots to go to when visiting Japan. Young, attractive Japanese waitresses dress in French maid outfits and address their customers as “Master” and “Mistress”. The concept of these cafes is to give their customers a homely kind of a treatment. They offer weird accessories like bunny ears and things to their customers so as to make us feel special.
Watch A Robot Cabaret
When in Tokyo, don’t miss an evening of an amazing experience at the Robot Restaurant. These shows are full of neon flashy lights and techno music and dance. The show is run for probably an hour. Dancing girls in colourful outfits and pandas on stage are absolutely eye seeking catchy in the backgrounds! While I missed this, some of my friends headed there and found it an interesting experience.
MT.FUJI IS A MUST DO WHEN VISITING JAPAN
MT.Fuji is the real deal when travelling to Japan. The Japanese proverb ‘He who climbs Mt Fuji once is a wise man, he who climbs it twice is a fool’ remains as valid as ever. You can drive up to the 5th station of Mt. Fuji from Hakone and in season time a lot of trekkers hike up to the top for stunning views from Mt. Fuji.
Here is a video of Mt Fuji from the base at Hakone
Japan is a country not only myriad in its experiences but surprises you and leaves you enriched with its culture and kindness that people possess. It’s like no other country you would have visited and I would totally recommend it. Check this link out for more offbeat travel inspiration. Keep travelling, Keep exploring!