#japan #tokyo #fuji #kyoto #hiroshima #nagasaki
Japan is one of the most industrially significant nations in the world. They use such technologically advanced implements in their everyday lives that you can't even dream off. However, people often overlook that this is also culturally a very significant place. From the fastest trains in the world to the legends of Samurais, Japan has a lot to boast about. The rich history of Japan is thousands of years old. They have been developing trade routes since times when such routes weren't overly popularised by the Europeans. They had built gigantic Buddhist and Shinto temples when the west was just starting to build things after giving up their barbaric, hunter-like lifestyle. There are so many things to see and do in Japan and so many small lessons to be learned from the Japanese.
Japan is recognized by Mount Fuji throughout the world- it is that iconic of a landmark! The highest peak in the country, Mount Fuji stands tall at a terrific height of 3,776 meters. The surrounding area is more or less flat and the imposing structure of the mountain is clearly visible from Tokyo over a hundred kilometers away. Fuji-san has been referred to in artworks, poems, literature, and so on for ages and is now regarded as a site of world cultural significance by UNESCO since 2013.
The peak is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is a scenic sight to find yourself in. the mountain is regularly climbed by many pilgrims whose ultimate aim is to witness a glorious sunrise from the top of the peak. Some climbers traditionally do the climb by starting from the base. However, technological advancements have ensured facilities such that the trek could be started somewhere along the mid-point at the 5th Station. The latter is an easier way to do the trek since it will take about 6 hours for the ascent. If you are starting from the base, you’d have to make an overnight stop at one of the mountain huts which were constructed exactly for this purpose.
Imperial Palace in Tokyo
The Imperial Palace is one of the most famous locations in Tokyo and quite rightly so! It is a gigantic structure that you could just go on seeing without getting tired. It is beautifully constructed with 17th-century parks surrounding the area. Though entry to most of the castle areas is not permitted since the royal family of Japan still lives and functions from the castle, enough of it is accessible to the public to leave you awestruck.
You could opt for a guided tour through the many accessible points within the palace complex. The East Higashi-Gyoen Garden is one of the most attractive places that you are going to see. Another extremely romantic point is the Nijubashi Bridge- the water underneath it is so clear that you get to see the most terrific reflection of the bridge on the water.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
The tragedy that struck Hiroshima when the first-ever nuclear bomb was dropped in 1945 is known throughout the world. However, Japan has done much since then to commemorate the lives of all the innocents that were lost on that fateful day and Hiroshima has stood tall as a symbol of peace. The memorial park is visited by millions of national and international tourists every year and is situated in the epicenter of the nuclear attack. Various monuments have been erected and several museums set up in the area that commemorates the tragedies of the fateful day of the blast.
The grounds in the region are beautiful and peaceful with gardens and lovely cherry blossom trees. The Peace Memorial Museum is also situated in the parking area and has numerous displays that deal in various figments related to world peace. You should also see the Memorial Cenotaph while in the area and the Flame of Peace. The Atom Bomb Dome is the ruins of an administrative building in the region that lies near the center of the explosion.
Kyoto is one of the most visited cities in Japan and sees a footfall of about 10 million visitors every year. It is a beautiful city and much of the history has been preserved since it was untouched by the vagaries of World War II. In fact, the city has preserved its ancient structure and architecture so beautifully that you get the same cobbled roads and Buddhist architecture that existed over 1,000 years ago when the imperial family first started residing here. Kyoto has been the most important center for culture in the country since then, and still excels to be so.
The architectural style you get to see in Kyoto is based on the Buddhist styles. Many of the buildings and temples from that era still exist in pristine condition and 30 of the temples are still in regular use to this day. There are other important structures too such as the Kinkaku-Ji or the Golden Pavilion which shows how skillful and intricate the Japanese could be. The 17th century Nijo Castle is another significant place to visit in Tokyo that you cannot miss. The original fortress structure along with the moat, towers, and all the walls are extremely well-preserved in this area. The interior decorations of the palace are also worth watching. The Kyoto Imperial Palace, constructed in AD 794 should also be on your list of top places to visit in Japan. Last, but not least, you have to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Groove while you are spending time in Kyoto. This vibrant, beautiful, and peaceful bamboo trail is just a few minutes away from the town center on foot.
Itsukushima Island Shrine
Miyajima island is a ferry ride away from mainland Hiroshima and is a famous Japanese site, also known as Japan’s Shrine Island. The island covers an area of about 30 km2 and the Itsukushima Shrine is the most famous among all the shrines. It is a Shinto temple built in the name of the daughters of the god of wind, Susanoo. The temple was built way back in the 8th century and features an interesting display.
The temples rise out of the water giving it a stunning look and feel. There are other structures too such as the Great Floating Gate. During high tide, these structures appear to be floating on clear water making way for one of the most impressive and mesmerizing sights you will ever see.
Within the Itsukushima temple, there are many things for you to explore and see. The main hall (Honden), the hall for offerings (Heiden), the hall for praying (Haiden), and Senjokaku, the hall of a Thousand Mats is definitely worth your time.
Nara is a beautiful city and it will be an especially beautiful place to visit if you are immersed in art and architecture. It is an ancient city with many ancient structures for the benefit of onlookers. The Kofuku-Ji Temple, built in the 7th century, is an absolutely unmissable monument while traveling through Japan. It is also the best known among the Seven Great Temples that you will find in Nara. Another impressive temple that you have to visit is the Todai Ji, which was built in the 8th century and is famous for an excellent Buddha statue crafted from bronze. The southern gate of Todai-Ji is spectacular and will leave you awestruck. It is a gigantic two-story structure and is supported by 18 huge columns- a truly remarkable sight to behold.
When it was built in 1586, the Osaka Castle was the largest fortress, as well as the most important one in Japan. Its construction was laid down by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and has since several destruction and reconstruction, till it was finally reconstructed in 1931, which still stands today. The main tower of this castle is 42 m tall and covers 5 stories. This tower is further built on a 14m tall base giving it more height and holding relics and artifacts that tell the story of the tower's history. The height also ensures that you get a grand view of Osaka from the top, especially during sunset. You will find other places of interest in Osaka Castle Park such as the Hokoku Shrine and the Shitenno Temple. The latter happens to be one of Japan’s best-known temples and dates back to AD 59.
Chūbu-Sangaku National Park
Japan is intricately beautiful and there is no denying that! The natural structures in Japan are as beautiful as the physical, man-made ones and the Chūbu-Sangaku National Park is one of the best places you could be if you want to witness nature at its finest. The national park is situated in Honshu and the northern to central region comprises the Hida Mountains, more popularly known as the Japanese Alps. Some of the nation’s highest peaks such as Mt. Hotaka (3,190 m) and Mt. Yari (3,180 m) are to be found soaring high among the Japanese Alps. You will also find many exclusive and exotic species of flora and fauna in this region. Some of the most notable finds would be the mountain antelopes and the rare ptarmigan.
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