Posts Tagged With: Japan

Each Minute of His Trip Counted(Busan)


We ran to grab our food served in the ferry restaurant. There are a lot of kinds of Korean foods, cakes, and fruits. I smiled when seeing the Korean food. I loved it so much, but maybe from today on, I was gonna eat only Korean food(of course, Kimchi :)) during this trip or I could be fed up with it at the middle of the way, I guessed. I also missed my fruit. It seems like I had never eaten fruit before besides bananas(the cheapest ones I could buy).

I was eating dinner with Keiji while he said to me,” I’m gonna take more food.” “Oh Keiji, you needn’t bring a dish with you, you can take a new one there” I told him. “Heh, you’re so smart”, he said and smiled to me. In fact, it was just a usual custom we did during a buffet. I didn’t think I was smart to know such a doing(laugh). A little bit later, “Hot water runs out of”, he said to me again. ” But I just got it” I told him. ” I gonna take it for you”. In fact, he didn’t know how to get it. I started wondering how he had done during his previous times, since now it was his 3rd time in this ferry, but it made me feel stronger to believe he was like my father. They had a lot of similar points. I met a group of Korean people I met at the bus station again. They sat near my table. I smiled to one man (he is younger than Keiji and about in 40s) and then he smiled back to me. I saw he say sth with his group and then they all turned to look at me and smiled. He started talking to me in Japanese as soon as Keiji went to get this phone in the bedroom. “Is it delicious?”, he asked. “Yes, it’s tasty”, I replied. “He’s your friend?”, he referred to Keiji. “Right, he is my roommate.” I told him. And then, he showed me his finger swinging around his ear. It meant Keiji was funny(in the bad meaning). I smiled to him, but I totally didn’t agree with the idea. I thought Keiji was adorable, friendly and helpful. If he was to be funny, then it would be in a good meaning. In fact, South Korea and Japan used to have a bad history with each other, and that’s why some old people are hard to forget and hate each other. They always remember the terrible history.[….]

I loved my dinner so much…and one hour later there would be a dance and music show. I would love to wait for it with Keiji. The show was spectacular; I clapped my hands loudly although I understood nothing what DJ was saying(in Korean). It didn’t disturb me at anyhow. Most of the shows were performed by white people. I was watching them enthusiastically when I noticed that the performers and the waiters serving us the dinner were the same people. I started feeling different. Keiji told me that they might be from Russia. Actually, I thought they had talents, and they should have found a better job than this. I started looking at around my table. It seemed like they were performing in the air where people in this ferry preferred to sleep in the room rather to see their performance(although it is free). Sometimes things in this earth are strange and hard to believe. Some people who act crazily can be famous while some are not recognized although they have talent. “Life is not fair; get used to it”, that’s what Bill Gates’s said.

I enjoyed the show so much, but it was so short(maybe less than 1 hour). The beginning and the ending were so awesome. ” They’re gonna make it amazing at the start…and down…and then amazing again at the ending.”, Keiji had told me before the performance while showing me his moving-wave like hand. He was right!! It was as he said. It was 9:30, but we were so tired, so we returned to our beds. Keiji was sleeping with TV on. I didn’t notice it because I was reading a Korean conversation book. I got up to turn off TV and light. I also couldn’t keep my open anymore… I was in nowhere with him(zzZ).

The swaying ferry woke me in the early morning. I looked at my clock. It was at 5:25. Everything around me was swaying…even my head. I was gonna be sick if my head kept shaking like this, I thought. We must have been at the middle of Japan sea where waves were aggressive. It is to believe that Mongolian army ships were swept away during its invasion to Japan during Mongolian empire, and again Japan fighter ships were also swallowed during World War II at the same point. Japan Sea waves were violent. “It ‘s gonna be ok”, I tried to tell myself, and then I put my back again on the sheet.

It was about 8:30 when Keiji woke me again.” You’re alright?” ” You’re not sick?”, he asked me. I felt my head was still shaking. Yeah, the ferry was swaying…but not much. “I’m ok”, I told him. “I just had a good nice sleep and don’t want to get up”, I continued and smiled to him. “You’re gonna have a breakfast with me now?”, he asked. His face told me he was hungry. I made him wait for me. “Yeah”, I replied and went to the breakfast with him without washing my face, teeth…and of course, in my sleeping clothes. “You don’t eat much”, he said to me. In fact, I didn’t feel comfortable to sway with the ferry. It was my first time on the water and maybe I didn’t get used to it, I guessed. I just didn’t want to eat anything.

The ferry was approaching the Busan Terminal, so we queued up to get out of the ferry. We waited for a few minute when we could get out, and then suddenly I saw he run. Keiji ran in the crowd. He was too quick for me to catch up because I had a big backpack behind. He turned back looking at me, and then he kept running… I wouldn’t forget that face. He could have only 4 hours in Busan. The time was too short to enjoy the journey. It seemed like each minute of his journey was counted…3..2..1..0  he had to turn back and took a ferry back to Japan. I started realizing what a trip was meant. I had thought 4 hours spending abroad couldn’t be called a journey, but now he changed this concept. I was in the middle of a long line at immigration department where Keiji got out firstly. I felt so guilty to make him wait for me, to waste his time. It seemed it was no use. He ran to save his time and ended up waiting for me.

“Sorry, Keiji to make you wait for me”, I said to him. “Oh no, no, it’s ok”, he smiled and said. “I was quick, wasn’t I?” “Now we’re gonna go to Busan station”, he told me. We was walking so fast when I watched the Busan view around. I felt like, ” I did it!!”. Yesterday Japan, today South Korea. Every view coming into my eyes was different. I didn’t understand what was writing on the street… it was all written in Korean. We reached the station, and it was also a place where we had to separate our own way. Good bye, Keiji…and thank you for everything so far. I loved this journey along with you. From today on, I didn’t know whether I would be able to find a good accompanist like you.  I didn’t think I would always be lucky to find good friends during this trip.

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Same but Different (Tokyo)


I waited for my bus to the station as usual. I took the same bus running on the same road, but this time I felt as what I never did. Bus seemed to be so slow although it was on schedule. I wouldn’t tell you I kept looking at my watch most of the time. People passing by seemed to look at me again and again. They looked at my face and then at my big backpack behind… Hah, do you think everything was just my thought alone? In fact, I just took a strong notice on myself in the way I had never done, and then I thought as if everyone did it to me.

It was my fifth time I took a night bus, but this time I did it alone. I felt so uneasy as I waited for my bus to come. It was a really cold night at Shinjuku.

One man came on the bus and he looked at the seat beside me. He bowed as greeting to me, so I did it back to him. We didn’t speak anything to each other. I thought he looked like to one of my friends.

On The Way

It was showering outside with a cold wind, but the heater inside the bus overturned, I guess. It was not warm but hot. I could hear somebody murmured, “That’s so hot”. I also couldn’t stand with such a temperature. Imagine how you wear your clothes in the winter and get on the bus overheated. I was sweated everywhere although I took off my jacket. It was as if we had stayed under the sun in the summer. I couldn’t close my eyes. I couldn’t get into sleep. My head started hurting and my body was itchy.[…] One night had gone.

It was already morning when I opened my eyes again. I really had a bad night sleep on the bus. I heard my seat fellow prepared his luggage to take off at Kyoto Station. He left without saying a word of goodbye. I would be the same if I were him. People nowadays started being unfriendly, I guess. It is a tend of society. I also got this influence. People who meet me at the first sight may find I’m an unfriendly guy. I talk less, smile less, but in fact, I really want to show it out. I want to speak more and smile to ones in front of me. Change everything I had now.

I took off at 2 bus stations later at USJ. Right, my first vacation place was USJ (Universal Studio of Japan)

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Departure Time


I have been waiting for this day for 4 months with excitement, nervousness, and worry. Now here it comes, and I still feel the same. I really don’t know what I will do during this 1 month ahead, what will happen to me, but what I should do now is to believe I’m not wrong to choose to be alone. “You’re great. You’ll get a good experience in life”, some of my friends said to me while some, “That’s so lonely. I wouldn’t rather do it; Be careful, dude”, “But why do you decide to travel alone?”, there comes repeated questions from ones to ones.

“I don’t know… I have never ever had an idea about it even a little bit before”.

One day I went to the library. I found one book 深夜特急(Midnight Express) written by Sawaki Koutarou. This book is talking about his journey from New Delhi to London by Bus, but because during that time there was no direct plane from Japan to India, so he decided to go to Hong kong and traveled down to Southeast Asia, and then went up to India, Pakistan…. At the middle of the way, he just found that there were no reasons why he had to be there. But, he still kept continuing without turning back. I also didn’t understand why I kept following him until his final book, but as I read page by page of his moment, I felt I was traveling with him in fear and fervor.

One day while I was reading that book on the bus, one man said to me in surprising tone. I just found that he also read the book I was holding 5, 6 years ago. He told me that he followed Koutarou…. He decided to travel to East Asia and Southeast Asia alone. What’s an envy of him, I thought. “But why didn’t I try it myself?”, that came an idea. Koutarou could do it 30 years ago; another man also could make it, so it is also possible for me. Everything was by chance, but from tomorrow on, I will control this chance by myself. Hope I can find a safe way back home (But it will be ok, I believe. These days are safer than 30 years ago. Not only Koutarou but thousands of man and woman are doing this solo travel each day, and I hear they enjoy the same result!).

Bye, bye,… see you again next month, and I will write down of every moment I have during this trip.

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First Shrine


Japan is different from other countries to count down during New Year. You may find in Sydney or Hong Kong, London, they celebrate new year with thousands of fireworks rising in the dark sky to welcome the coming year, but in Japan, people will go to the shrines or pagodas to count down with the light of candle in hands. We went to visit the first shrine of the year at the middle of the night. We howled the bell for the happiness of the year. I remember that was the coldest night I have felt so far. Smoke came from my mouth, my breathe with enjoyment. We drank Amazake (sweet rice wine) to warm our body. I didn’t like its smell much, but It helped me to stay in the middle of the coldest night. Wish you happy this year!!

New Moon!!

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Odaiba


[Japan-guide]

Rainbow Bridge from Odaiba

Odaiba (お台場) is a popular shopping and entertainment district on a man made island in Tokyo Bay. It originated as a set of small man made fort islands (daiba literally means “fort”), which were built towards the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868) to protect Tokyo against possible attacks from the sea and specifically in response to the gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Perry.More than a century later, the small islands were joined into larger islands by massive landfills, and Tokyo began a spectacular development project aimed to turn the islands into a futuristic residential and business district during the extravagant 1980s. But development was critically slowed after the burst of the “bubble economy” in the early 1990s, leaving Odaiba nearly vacant.

Aquacity and the Fuji TV Building

It was not until the second half of the 1990s, when several hotels, shopping malls and the Yurikamome elevated train line were opened, that Odaiba developed into one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist attractions and date spots with a wide selection of shopping, dining and leisure options.

Despite the initial setbacks, several lavish development projects did materialize, including some of Tokyo’s boldest architectural creations, such as the Fuji TV Building, Telecom Center and Tokyo Big Sight. Modern city planning furthermore provides Odaiba with plenty of green space and a pleasant division of motorized and pedestrian traffic using elevated walkways and the like.

Fuji TV Area

Fuji TV Building
Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (some restaurants until 19:00)
Closed: Mondays (or Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday).
Admission: Free (observation deck: 500 yen)
The headquarters of Fuji Television, one of Japan’s private, nationwide TV stations. You can see some exhibits on popular programs, buy Fuji TV goods at a shop and access the futuristic looking building’s observatory deck housed in the sphere shaped part of the building.

Decks Tokyo Beach
Hours: 11:00 to 21:00 Restaurants: 11:00 to 20:00 (some restaurants until 24:00)
Closed: No closing days  Admission: Free (trick art museum: 900 yen)
Decks is a shopping mall featuring various stores, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. The mall also houses the three story “Tokyo Joypolis” arcade (closed for renovation until mid July 2012) and a trick art museum. A Hong Kong themed food theme park and the Muscle Park were closed in 2010.

Aquacity Odaiba
Hours: 11:00 to 21:00  Restaurants: 11:00 to 23:00 (some restaurants until 5:30)
Closed: No closing days
Aquacity is a shopping mall featuring various stores, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and a 13 screen cinema complex. The fifth floor houses a ramen food theme park where you can try different ramen from all over Japan. There are nice views of the Rainbow Bridge from the wooden deck in front of Aquacity and neighboring Decks.

Rainbow Bridge
The Rainbow Bridge connects Odaiba to the rest of Tokyo. The two story bridge is an iconic symbol of the bay and is especially beautiful during its nightly illumination. The bridge supports an expressway, a regular road, the Yurikamome train line and pedestrian walkways along both sides.

Telecom Center Area

Telecom Center
Observation Deck: 15:00 to 21:00 (weekdays)
11:00 to 21:00 (weekends and national holiday)
Closed: Mondays (Tuesday if Monday is a holiday)
Admission: 500 yen (400 yen in combination with a Yurikamome day pass)
The Telecom Center is a major hub on the information highway with several large satellite antennas on its observation deck. The observation deck also offers nice view of the bay area and as far as Mount Fuji on clear days.

Museum of Maritime Science
Main building closed indefinitely for renewal, ships remain open
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 (weekends and holidays until 18:00)
Closed: Mondays (or following Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday)
December 28 to January 1
Admission: Free entry to ships during renovation
This museum looks like a large cruise ship docked along the Odaiba waterfront. The main building with exhibits on the history and technology of ships and shipping is currently closed for renovation. Outside you can board two real ships that are on permanent display.

National Museum of Emerging Science
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00  Closed: Tuesdays and December 28 to January 1
Admission: 600 yen
Also known as the Miraikan, this well done, highly interactive and bilingual science museum includes exhibits about environmental issues, robots (starring Asimo among others), information technology, biology and space exploration.

Oedo Onsen Monogatari
Open: 11:00am to 9:00am (last entry 7:00am)
Closed: One evening per month for cleaning
Admission: 2900 yen (2000 yen from 18:00 to 2:00, 1900 yen from 5:00).
An additional 1700 yen overnight fee applies from 2:00 to 5:00.
Opened in 2003, Oedo Onsen is a hot spring theme park which reproduces the atmosphere of the Edo period. Here you can enjoy various types of indoor and outdoor baths which are fed by hot spring water pumped from a depth of 1400 meters. Restaurants, massage, games and other entertainment, as well as overnight stays are available.

Palette Town

Palette Town is a large shopping and entertainment complex consisting of the Venus Fort shopping mall, Toyota Mega Web, a Ferris Wheel, the Zepp Tokyo music venue and Tokyo Leisureland.

Venus Fort
Hours: 11:00 to 21:00  Restaurants: 11:00 to 23:00
Closed: No closing days  Admission: Free
Venus Fort is a shopping mall in the style of a 18th century South European town. The mall features over a hundred shops, fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants on three floors including a few outlets shops on the upper floor.

Toyota Mega Web
Hours: 11:00 to 21:00 (some attractions end 1-3 hours earlier)
Closed: Small number of irregular closing days
Admission: Free (test rides: 300 yen)
Mega Web is a giant Toyota showroom that shows off all of Toyota’s latest models, car accessories and technologies. Attractions include test driving of cars (requires driving license valid for Japan) and a museum exhibiting cars from past decades.

Ferris Wheel
Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (until 23:00 on most Fridays, Saturdays)
Closed: No closing days  Admission: 900 yen (entire cabin: 3000 yen)
This 115 meter tall ferris wheel is one of the world’s largest and offers nice views of Tokyo Bay and Odaiba below. Each cabin seats six (or four in the all-glass cabins), and the complete revolution takes about 15 minutes.

Leisureland
Hours: 10:00 to 23:50 (some parts open 24 hours)
Closed: No closing days   Admission: Free (attractions are paid)
This huge entertainment complex features a large game arcade, bowling alleys, slots, batting cages, karaoke, darts, table tennis and sports games. There is also a ninja illusion house, a haunted house and food court.

Big Sight Area

Tokyo Big Sight
Hours and admission fees depend on the specific events.
Also known as Tokyo International Exhibition Center, Tokyo Big Sight is Japan’s largest exhibition and convention center and one of the bay islands’ boldest architectural creations. A wide array of events are held at the Big Sight throughout the year including the Tokyo Animate Fair, the Comiket comic fair and the Tokyo Motor Show.

Panasonic Center
Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (entry to Risupia until 17:00)
Closed: Mondays (or Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday)
Admission: Free (Risupia: 500 yen)
The Panasonic Center is a showroom for the latest products and technologies by the Panasonic Corporation. On display are the newest cameras, TVs, computers, Nintendo games, home appliances and more. The third floor is Risupia, a hands-on math and science museum.

How to get there
Access to Odaiba can be an attraction in itself, as the views of the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo’s harbor and waterfront area from the Yurikamome elevated train and boats are quite spectacular. Furthermore, it is also possible to walk across the Rainbow Bridge.

 

By YurikamomeThe Yurikamome is an automated, elevated train with rubber tires, which connects Shimbashi Station on the JR Yamonote Line with all of Odaiba’s attractions and Toyosu Station on the Yurakucho Subway Line. Trains depart every few minutes, and a ride between Shimbashi and Daiba Station takes 15 minutes and costs 310 yen. If you ride the Yurikamome more than twice, a one day pass for 800 yen is likely to cost less than regular fares.

The Yurikamome crosses the Rainbow Bridge to get to Odaiba and offers spectacular views of the harbor and the Tokyo waterfront. Sit or stand at the very front of the train for the most impressive views.

By Rinkai Line

The Rinkai Line connects Osaki Station on the JR Yamonote Line with Shin-Kiba Station on the JR Keiyo Line, stopping at the Tokyo Teleport and Kokusai Tenjijo underground stations on Odaiba along the way. Some trains on the JR Saikyo Line continue to run on the Rinkai Line and provide direct connections between Shinjuku, Sibuyaand Odaiba.

The ride from Shinjuku to Tokyo Teleport Station on Odaiba takes 25 minutes and costs 480 yen. Note that the Japan Rail Pass, Seishun 18 Kippu and similar JR tickets are not valid on the Rinkai Line between Osaki and Shin-Kiba, even though the line is served by JR trains.

By Boat

Tokyo Water Bus operates boats between Odaiba Seaside Park and Hinode Pier (20 minutes, 460 yen, 1-2 boats per hour), where there are connections to Asakusa. Direct boats connect Asakusa and Odaiba less frequently (50 minutes, 1520 yen). Furthermore, there are boats from Hinode Pier to Palette Town and Tokyo Big Sight (25-35 minutes, 400 yen, one boat per hour except Mondays and Tuesdays).

On Foot

It is possible to cross the Rainbow Bridge on foot. The walk across takes about 30-45 minutes and offers nice views of the waterfront area. The pedestrian path begins a short walk from Shibaura-futo Station along the Yurikamome on the “Tokyo side” of the bridge, while Odaiba Kaihinkoen Station is the nearest station on the “Odaiba side”. Bicycles are not allowed.

Note that the pedestrian walkways gets closed during the night (21:00 to 9:00 from April to October, 18:00 to 10:00 from November to March), on the third Monday of every month, from December 29 to 31, during the Tokyo Bay Fireworks Display and during bad weather.

Orientation in Tokyo

Crossing Rainbow Bridge on foot

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12 reasons to visit Japan in 2012


One top tourist draw for every month of the new year

1. January: Lashings of good luck

Daruma

Hey little fella — you get both eyes only if I have a great year, ok?

Bright red daruma dolls are a symbol of good luck in Japan, due to their unique shape that allows them to right themselves when knocked over. Apparently, that’s a good thing.

The tradition of the daruma can be traced back centuries to Takasaki’s Shorizan Daruma Temple in Gunma Prefecture, which allegedly asked farmers suffering from famine to make the papier-mâché dolls to sell at the temple for extra income.

Today, the city of Takasaki remains Japan’s largest producer of daruma dolls, accounting for roughly 80 percent of total production. It also hosts the yearly Daruma Ichi (market) on January 6 and 7, although the little red critters can be found right through the early months of the year.

Visitors flock to the town to select their daruma from mounds of the things — from thimble-sized tiny ones up to dolls you’d need a truck to get home.

The roly-poly dolls are traditionally sold without pupils painted on them. The owner paints one pupil when making a wish or resolution, and if it is successful he then paints the other pupil.

2. February: Ultra-cool ice sculptures

Sapporo Snow Festival

The ice swordfish centerpiece at the Tanakas’ party was the talk of the neighborhood for weeks.

Japan’s northernmost island is also its snowiest, but at least the residents of Hokkaido have some fun, stylish ways of ways of dealing with the cold temperatures.

The annual Sapporo Snow Festival is one of the most famous winter festivals in the world, boasting hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures.

In 2012 the festival will be held from February 6-12, and those who plan their trip accordingly will also be able to take in the nearby Ataru Yuki Akari no Michi (“snow light path” from February 3-12) and Asahikawa Winter Festival (February 8-12).

For the former, lanterns made of snow are placed around the city’s canal and historic sites, making for a beautiful and peaceful evening walk.

The latter bears some similarity to the Sapporo festival, with ice sculptures accompanied by fireworks, laser shows, music and dance performances and, of course, lots of local food and some very cold beer.

3. March: Thousand-year-old religious ceremonies

Nara Todaiji

Nara’s attention-seeking monks attempt to bring the house down.

Shunie is a Buddhist ceremony that has been held every year since 752, making it one of the oldest recurring religious events in Japan.

While it is practiced at various temples across the country, the most well known shunie is the one held at Todaiji Temple in Nara City from March 1-14.

The two-week event is actually made up of several smaller ceremonies, the most notable being otaimatsu and omizutori.

Otaimatsu involves giant torches six to eight meters long and weighing up to 80 kilos being carried up a flight of stairs and along the temple’s balcony, showering sparks on the crowd below.

On the last day of the festival, all torches are brought up to the temple at the same time, making for a truly spectacular sight.

Omizutori, or the water-drawing ceremony, takes place late at night between March 12 and 13. Buddhist monks descend repeatedly from the temple to a well below to draw the sacred water, which is believed to cure ailments.

4. April: Eat, drink and be (very) merry

Sakura

Tokyo’s wildest seniors break out the sake under their favorite trees.

Residents of Washington, D.C. like to brag about the beauty of their cherry blossom trees, but few remember that they were actually a gift from Japan, where the sakura is the unofficial national flower and hanami, or flower viewing, a popular national pastime.

The cherry trees bloom at different times across the country, but for most cities the best viewing times are between late March and early April.

There are only a few days each year when the trees are in full bloom, and during this time people of all ages flock to parks and temples to picnic under the blossoms with family, friends and co-workers.

After the March 11 earthquake, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara asked people not to practice hanami in 2011, so expect even more raucous festivities in 2012.

5. May: Scale the world’s highest tower

Tokyo Sky Tree

We’ve already been up it, but you’ll have to wait until May. So there …

The much-anticipated public opening of the 634-meter Tokyo Sky Tree is scheduled for May 22, 2012.

Already the tallest structure in Japan and currently the second tallest in the world after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tower promises uncompromised and unrivaled views of Japan’s capital and its surrounds, including Mount Fuji.

Although its main purpose will be television broadcasting, the tower will also have two observation decks, one at 350 meters and the other at 450, which will feature a glass outer walkway.

Its convenient location near the Asakusa district means that visitors will be able to get a dose of both historic and modern Japan in one quick fix.

6. June: Torchlit theater

Noh

Blank faces, emotionless pretenders — what’s not to like?

Noh is Japan’s most ancient form of theater, in which actors don elaborate costumes and lacquer-coated wooden masks and move about the stage incredibly slowly, expressing no emotion in their voices.

It’s also one of the world’s oldest forms of musical theater, accompanied by flutes and drums.

Watching a Noh performance at any time evokes images of ancient Japan, but Takigi Noh, or “bonfire Noh,” takes this notion a step further.

Performed by firelight at historic temples across the country, it can be a very moving experience. Head to Heian Jingu in Kyoto on June 1 or 2 to take in one of Japan’s most popular Takigi Noh performances.

7. July: Climb the country’s highest peak early

Mount Fuji

Climbing Fuiji-san — you know you want to.

The official annual climbing season on Mount Fuji (3,776 meters) comprises only two months, July and August, during which time over 300,000 hikers flock to its slopes annually for the chance to view the sunrise from the peak.

The recent hiking and outdoor boom in Japan has led to an increase in climbers of the mountain and so far there is no sign of the numbers receding.

So, before it begins to resemble Shinjuku Station in mid-summer, why not take the challenge to make it to the top on July 1?

Just remember to dress for the bitter cold at the summit and bring plenty of food and water.

8. August: Festival of lights in Tohoku

Kanto Matsuri

Pipe dream — Akita’s Kanto Matsuri.

Tourism in Japan, and especially the Tohoku region, may have taken a hit after the March 11 earthquake, but since then the number of international visitors has been steadily rising.

A good opportunity for tourists to lend their support to those in the quake-hit region is the Tohoku Sandai Matsuri.

The event is actually three separate festivals, each a different type of Tanabata (star festival) celebration.

The Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori, held from August 2-7, features a nightly parade of huge, lighted floats, flanked by dancers, taiko drummers and other musicians.

More night parades can be seen from August 3-6 during the Kanto Matsuri in Akita, in which groups of performers balance long bamboo kanto poles with lanterns attached to them.

Finally, there’s the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri from August 6-8, when the city’s shopping arcades are inundated with thousands of colorful streamers up to five meters long.

9. September: Get your game on

Tokyo Game Show

OK, hands up who thinks this is sure to involve a wholesome pastime?

For video gamers in Japan (and many who fly in just for this), there’s no better place than the annual Tokyo Game Show.

Held at the huge Makuhari Messe convention hall, the event generally consists of two trade-only days followed by two days that are open to the public.

This is where the industry’s biggest names, such as Sony and Microsoft, announce and preview their latest technologies and developments and fans get the rare chance to try their hands at cutting-edge games before they’re released.

It’s also a popular event for cosplayers and their followers, so don’t forget your wig and cape.

10. October: F1 — blink and you’ll miss it

F1

You’ll need a few cans of Red Bull to get even the mildest buzz out of F1.

Japan first hosted a Formula 1 race in 1976, and after Fuji Speedway withdrew as host in 2009, Suzuka Circuit, about 50 kilometers south of Nagoya, is now the only place in the country to stage a grand prix.

The next Japanese Grand Prix is scheduled for October 7 and because of its position late in the season, the race is often a title-deciding one.

Suzuka is also considered one of the most challenging F1 circuits, meaning that races there are often even more exciting than elsewhere. Say it ain’t so!

11. November: It’s in the trees

Koyo

And the people gathered ’round the trees to crane their necks above and say, “Kirei, desu ne?”

Every country in the world has trees, and it’s a safe bet to say that many of those countries also have trees whose leaves change color in autumn. But to our knowledge, no other country reacts to this natural phenomenon in quite the same way that Japan does.

After hanami season, only koyo (colorful autumn leaves) sees so many people tilting their heads and craning their necks to get a good look at trees.

Popular koyo viewing locations include Kyoto, Nikko, Kamakura and parks throughout Tokyo.

12. December: Pure, white powder

Skiing

From December through to springtime in many spots, Japan has some amazing snow.

While it may not quite rank with places like Aspen and Gstaad, Japan nonetheless has plenty of winter-sports resorts that supply as much powdery fun as any tourist could wish for.

Over the past 40 years, both Sapporo and Nagano have hosted the Winter Olympics, solidifying their status as world-class ski destinations.

Other popular areas include the quickly developing Niseko in Hokkaido, with its roughly five-month-long ski season, and Hakuba in the Japanese Alps, with an average annual snowfall of over 11 meters.

But for many, the best part about ski season in Japan comes after the slopes in the form of a relaxing, ache-easing dip in a hot spring.

More on CNNGo: 15 sights that make Tokyo so fascinating

Categories: Travel Article | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The highest point of Japan(Mount Fuji)


I was eating lunch at cafeteria when one of my friends asked me to join a trip to Fujisan with him. “That`s a great idea”, I replied, but “when?”. “Tomorrow!!”, he replied. “Tomorrow?” But I prepared nothing.

I packed my sack with clothes, a little food(I thought there must be something selling there). Our target was to see the sunrise in the morning at the top of the mount. Thus, we had to start climbing at night 8:00p.m. We prepared nothing, and it was also my 1st time to climb a high mountain, so I didn’t know much what to prepare, what to handle in advance besides bringing headache pills. My group of 3 people had only 1 light to lighten our path to the top of the mount(it was so dark but the sky and stars were so beautiful. You will see more beautiful sky when you are at a higher place). As we went higher, it became colder (actually, it was in summer; it was hot at the bottom). We found it hard to breathe (there was so no much oxygen as we climbed higher), so we easily got tired.

We could see the peak, but although we climbed and climbed, it seemed we stayed still. We stopped, we continued, we took a break, and we continued again and again. No water and our food was eaten all(too little food I brought…not enough for only 1 person). I just thought I might have died here (freeze to death). Water there was expensive. 1 bottle of water costed me 500 yen (6$), but yeah, at least, we wouldn’t die of thirsty(Money can sometimes lose its value comparing things we need the most, I guess). We reached 8 stage of the mount (10 stage was the top) while we lost all strength to continue.

So, we decided to go to ask the pub(there were only 1 or 2 pubs at 1 stage for resting) whether there were guesthouse’s rooms inside. Yeah, there were, but it costed 5000yen (60$) a night for a person without a proper bed(I started thinking…. sometimes money can also be a best deal). One night in an uncomfortable bed for 60$ was not a suitable price. Therefore, I decided to joined other groups sleeping outside the pub. It was colder, colder……as I fell asleep deeply on the ground unconsciously(maybe cos I was exhausted:(). As I woke up (it was at 4:00) when I saw I stayed alone,….where were others? I got up quickly looking for my friends. They went to stay near the pub. One of them got a terrible headache. Yeah, in such a condition, no one could help another besides taking a pill and trying to take a rest.

Our goal failed. I couldn’t manage to see the sunrise at the top, so we just stayed at 8 stage and saw the sunrise.

After seeing it,…it continued to the top. But this time we climbed scatteredly cos we took a rest at different speed, time. Terribly, my phone’s battery ran out of (I couldn’t contact them). What should I do? I had only to reach a top gate of the mount and waited for them there (I thought there was no other choices).

Eventually, I reached the peak (Hello Fujisan, I won’t lose you, guy!!)…. 2 of them followed me a hour later.

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Categories: Activities | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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