By A Not So Secret Life and Randomly Candid
Japan will always have a huge place in my heart. I literally grew up knowing anything and everything about it. As a young child, I always looked forward to my Aunt’s return from Japan, eager for the gifts and chocolates, the stories about that distant country. But as the years went by, when all the chocolates have been eaten up and the gifts old and lost, all that is left are the tales of the enchanted world of the sakura, geisha, and samurai.
Then finally, I got to visit Japan. I was giddy with excitement. The places, the people, the culture. It was all that I imagined it to be and more. There was nothing about Japan that I didn’t like. Everything started to become a favorite, everything about it fascinates me. I keep falling in love with Japan again and again.
To date I’ve been to nine cities/towns in Japan, hence, writing this was really challenging as I really can’t pick which I like most. In the end, I decided to chronicle the most popular places instead. Here we go:
Takeshita Dori- Tokyo is every fashionista’s paradise and Takeshita Dori, the symbol of Harajuku and home of the giant cotton candies and foot-long French fries, is the place to be. This renowned place is always buzzing as it offers a little bit of everything to everyone. Either shopping for vintage clothing or fun cosplay costumes, urbanites can take their pick from small independent shops to large high-end luxury brands. This district serves as a gateway to local attractions such as Meiji Shrine and its environs of shops, restaurants, and museums should always be a part of every tourist’s itinerary.
Arashiyama – Cool, fresh air, I feel closest to mother nature as I stroll down a street lined with towering green bamboos in Arashiyama’s – bamboo forest. Lying in the outskirts of Kyoto, this rural attraction made me feel calm and at peace despite the throng of tourists passing by. This Kyoto’s pride has pleasure boats, multiple shrines and “old traditional Japanese” shops and restaurants.
Fushimi Inari Taisha – For Japanese culture lovers, it is a dream to visit a vibrant orange “torii” or a Traditional Japanese Gate. Some people believe that it symbolically represents the thin line between the spirit world and the human world. Thus, it gives you that mysterious and eerie feeling. Now, imagine, walking down a tunnel of about 5000 ‘toriis’, that takes “mystifying” to the next level. So, when in Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Taisha is a must-see destination. And don’t forget to stop by the sweet shops and try the Japanese Fortune cookies.
Osaka Castle – The grandiose of Osaka castle not only lies in its beauty and stature but in its long history of formidability to withstand attempts of total destruction. It is one of Japan’s most famous landmark. Tourists can enter for a minimal fee and explore its vast history depicted in the various relics. But for me, what made the visit worthwhile was the breathtaking view of the city seen from the top floors of the castle. Surrounding the castle, are hundreds of cherry blossom trees, making Osaka Castle Park the perfect spot to enjoy the cherry blossom season.
Kitano – Cho – Visiting Kitano-cho in Kobe, is like stepping into Europe’s opulent streets. Nestled at the foot of the magnificent Mt. Rokko, are large, preserved merchants’ mansions. Originally built after Kobe became a Treaty port in 1869, these mansions are open to the public and display the wealth of the former foreign merchants who resided there. And it is only where you’ll get to enjoy your Starbucks Coffee in a historical Western-Style Building.
Japan has many more places and activities that I have left unexplored though they will not be left unexplored for long. However, that will be an entirely different story, in another exciting chapter of my life.