Japan is a land of contrasts. My travels have taken me through bustling cities such as Saigon, in Vietnam, serene temples, and rugged wilderness such as that of Argentina, and I would love to go to Japan as it seems like the kind of place where I would be able to find these all right next to each other. Opportunities for exploration and relaxation are everywhere and often not far from each other, so it makes for the perfect mix of adventure and luxury.
I have been playing with the thought of going, and I have been thinking about my Japan itinerary, and by reading, it seems that I’d be able to find a lot of untouched nature in Japan. There are mountains all over the country that are too rough and steep to develop, and together with the Japanese love of natural beauty this means that there are vast forests to explore.
But civilization appears to be never far away. I can imagine arriving at a ryoukan—a traditional Japanese inn — after a hard day’s hiking. They are often built around natural hot springs up in the mountains, so I can see myself soaking my weariness away in a hot bath. That is the kind of place where I may be able to see some snow monkeys, who famously love to take a dip in the steaming water.
Open-air publics baths are an example of adventure and relaxation rolled into one for most westerners, and I would love to experience them. They are great places to relax for those like me, who enjoy traditionally minimalistic furnishings and wonderfully calm places. Besides, rumor has it that there are often facilities for karaoke (to test my awful singing skills), ping-pong and other popular pastimes.
Another way I like to relax and explore at the same time is visiting historic temples, and I know I would have it easy in Japan as there are places which are famous for their serene atmospheres and breathtaking architecture. In order to explore without the risk of getting lost, I can see all these places on package adventure holidays.
I am currently looking for something a little more lively, and I am lucky enough to be planning my trip for next summer. That means I will be able to see festivals at local Shinto shrines with food stalls, fairground games, and fireworks.
I hope to manage to make a day trip to Mt. Fuji and be back in Tokyo in time to experience the night life thanks to the Keio express bus, which takes only a couple of hours, before returning to a luxurious, modern city hotel.
Japan is a destination I can’t wait to explore and that I was told is a great place to have fun, relax, or explore as there’s always somewhere nearby to do it in the land of the rising sun. When the time will come, I will know where to look in order to create my perfect Japan itinerary.
Have you been to Japan? What did you like the most about it? What should I look forward to?