As far as bucket lists go I have quite a long one. Much of the to-do’s consist of travel related items. Including South Korea, Australia, Argentina, Peru, and Belize, just to name a few.
One that had been sitting at the top for several years was Japan. The Japanese culture has always fascinated me. One of the main foundations of the culture is customs and order/efficiency. My deep set type-A love for order and efficiency was quite excited. My enthusiasm was met with even more intrigue when many of the Canadian travelers I spoke to described Japan as some strange alien world. Oddly ordered street addresses, different customs, new cuisines, anime culture, and an obsessive love for inventions and tech. Instinctively I packed my backpack, hopped on a 13-hour flight and began my next adventure.
I had the pleasure of visiting Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Naoshima & Hiroshima. Every city had its own unique twist with a fascinating history that was extremely different from the neighboring cities:
Tsukiji fish market, If you are a fan of sushi you will never have sushi fresher than what is offered here. Most of the restaurants here get their supply directly from the ocean first thing in the morning. The Tokyo Art scene is unbelievable and a must see, but I have to say, Tsukiji was a once in a life time experience.
Full of history and beauty. Philosopher’s Path is also a must see. My trip through was a bit odd. We ended touring the path a few days before Sukkot and we happen to come across a Rabbi who generously offered us to participate in a waving ceremony with the four species.
A major highlight of this city is the amazing gardens & parks. One of them, known as deer park, is a massive park with hundreds of free roaming deer, that tourists can feed freely, but be careful… when you run out of food… you might have to start running…
Dōtonbori, A huge shopping center. I highly recommend to visit it in the evening, as it has a slight touch of time square, but on a much larger scale.
An Art Lover Must see, this island is the home to many contemporary art museums and art projects.
This city is incredibly iconic, particularly in the context of the modern war era. We visited ground zero of the first atomic bomb dropped on civilization. It gives perspective on how incredibly brutal the effects of the bomb, and the immense destructive power of humans at the helm of technology. There are many monuments surrounding Genbaku Dome that tell the story and the pain caused by the events of WWII.
In the time I spent in Japan I was barely able to scratch the surface of the amazing art culture and food to be experienced. I appreciated the amazing demeanor of all the locals they were very warm despite all of the convention. Any time we were lost or in need of advice the people we spoke to were more than happy to take us to where we needed to go. Even with language barriers we were never denied a helping hand. If culture shock or fear of getting lost prevent you from visiting this amazing country, there really is nothing to be worried about. This is coming from someone who lives in the alleged friendliest country on earth.
While this was a bucket list item, I don’t think that it can be fully crossed off there is still much to see and do, so stay tuned for Japan part 2 in the hopefully near future.