Visiting Japan all you need to know
Top things to do, How to get around, travel tips and more
Japan is an incredibly fascinating and unique country that offers a wide range of experiences for travelers. From ancient temples and shrines to cutting-edge technology and modern architecture, Japan has something to offer for everyone. In this travel blog post, we will explore the history of Japan, the best time to visit, the main attractions and destinations, the food and local currency, transportation options, and a recommended route for your trip.
A Short History of Japan:
Japan has a rich and complex history that dates back thousands of years. The earliest known human habitation of the Japanese archipelago dates back to the Upper Paleolithic period, around 30,000 BC. The Jomon period, which lasted from around 14,000 BC to 300 BC, was characterized by a hunter-gatherer society, and the development of pottery. The Yayoi period, from 300 BC to 300 AD, saw the introduction of rice cultivation and iron and bronze-making technologies.
The Kofun period, from around 300 to 710 AD, was characterized by the emergence of powerful regional leaders and the construction of large burial mounds. The Heian period, from 794 to 1185 AD, saw the capital of Japan move to Kyoto and the emergence of a courtly culture that was heavily influenced by Chinese culture. The Kamakura period, from 1185 to 1333 AD, saw the rise of the samurai class and the establishment of a military government.
The Muromachi period, from 1336 to 1573 AD, saw the rise of powerful regional lords , and the development of Zen Buddhism and the tea ceremony. The Azuchi-Momoyama period, from 1573 to 1603 AD, saw the reunification of Japan under the rule of the powerful warlord Oda Nobunaga and his successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
The Edo period, from 1603 to 1868 AD, saw the rise of the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled Japan through a system of feudal lords. This period was characterized by peace and stability, and saw the development of a unique and vibrant culture, including the rise of the kabuki and ukiyo-e (woodblock print) art forms.
In 1868, the shogunate was overthrown and the Meiji period began, which saw the modernization and westernization of Japan. This period saw Japan become a major economic and military power, and the country played a significant role in World War II. Since the end of the war, Japan has become one of the most developed and prosperous countries in the world, and is known for its cutting-edge technology, pop culture, and traditional arts and culture.
When to Visit:
Japan can be visited throughout the year, but the best time to visit will depend on your interests and what you hope to see and experience. The peak tourist season is from late spring to early autumn, with the months of April to May and September to October being the best time to visit for the cherry blossoms and autumn foliage. Summer is also a popular time to visit, with June to August being the best time for the beautiful beaches and festivals. However, it can be quite hot and humid during this time.
Winter is also a great time to visit, with December to February being the best time for skiing and hot springs. It's also a good time for those who want to avoid the crowds and enjoy the peacefulness of the temples and shrines. However, it can be quite cold in some areas, especially in the northern regions such as Hokkaido.
Main Attractions and Destinations:
Japan offers a wide range of attractions and destinations for visitors, including:
Tokyo: The bustling capital city of Japan, Tokyo is known for its cutting-edge technology, pop culture, and delicious food. Some popular attractions include the Tokyo Skytree, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, and the Meiji Shrine.
Kyoto: Known as the cultural heart of Japan, Kyoto is home to over 2,000 temples and shrines, including the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, and the Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
Hiroshima: Known for its tragic history as the site of the first atomic bombing, Hiroshima is now a symbol of peace and resilience. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the nearby Miyajima Island are must-see destinations.
Mount Fuji: Japan's highest mountain, Mount Fuji is a symbol of Japan and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a popular destination for hikers, and the best time to hike is during the official climbing season from July to September.
Hokkaido: Known for its natural beauty, Hokkaido is a popular destination for skiing, hiking, and hot springs. Some popular destinations include the Shiretoko National Park and the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Food, Local Currency and Prices:
Japanese food is known for its fresh ingredients, delicate flavors, and beautiful presentation. Some popular dishes include sushi, ramen, tempura, and udon. Prices for food in Japan can vary, but generally, it's a bit more expensive than other Asian countries, especially in major tourist areas.
The local currency in Japan is the Japanese Yen (JPY), and credit cards are widely accepted. Prices for accommodation, food, and transportation can be on the higher side, but budget-friendly options are also available.
Japan has an excellent public transportation system, which makes it easy to get around. The train and subway systems are fast, efficient, and relatively inexpensive. The Japan Rail Pass is a great option for travelers who plan to do a lot of traveling by train.
Taxis and buses are also available, but they can be more expensive than the train. For those who prefer to explore on their own, renting a car is also an option, but it's important to note that driving in Japan can be a bit challenging due to the narrow roads and different traffic rules.
A recommended route for a first-time visitor to Japan would be to start in Tokyo, then move on to Kyoto, Hiroshima, and end the trip in Osaka. This route allows you to experience the modern and traditional sides of Japan, and see some of the most iconic and popular destinations in the country.
In Tokyo, you can explore the city's many attractions such as Tokyo Skytree, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, and the Meiji Shrine. After that, take a train to Kyoto, where you can explore the many temples and shrines, such as the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, and the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Then, head to Hiroshima and visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the nearby Miyajima Island, a symbol of peace and resilience. Finally, end your trip in Osaka, known for its delicious food, beautiful castle, and lively atmosphere.
Other Important Information for Tourists:
Tipping is not a common practice in Japan, and it's not expected. Japan is a cash-based society, and it's a good idea to carry some cash on you at all times. Smoking is not allowed in most public places, including restaurants and bars. Japan is a very safe country, but it's important to be aware of your surroundings and take standard safety precautions. The Japanese culture places a strong emphasis on manners and respect, and it's important to be mindful of customs and etiquette when visiting temples, shrines, and other sacred places. For example, it's important to bow when entering a temple, and shoes should be removed before entering a traditional Japanese home or ryokan.
Japan is also known for its strict rules on littering and public cleanliness, so it's important to dispose of trash properly and maintain good hygiene when in public places.
Japan can be an expensive destination, but there are ways to save money. For example, staying in a budget-friendly accommodation such as a capsule hotel or a hostel can save money on accommodation, and eating at local markets and street food stalls can save money on food.
In conclusion, Japan is a truly unique and fascinating destination that offers a wide range of experiences for travelers. From ancient temples and shrines to cutting-edge technology and delicious food, Japan has something to offer for everyone. By following this recommended route and keeping the important information for tourists in mind, you can have an unforgettable and enjoyable trip to Japan.