Places to Visit in Japan

by Junko Kishimoto
(Odawara, Kanagawa)

Places to visit in Japan - Japan has a lot of them and they vary from historical to exciting and modern.

I feel most expats when they think of places to visit in Japan, want to see the "real" Japan, and for me that means the countryside and that means getting a taste for Japanese history. I don`t mean a temple right next to a hamburger restaurant as you will sometimes experience, I mean the whole experience where you are immersed in Japan, with no Kentucky Fried Chicken, nor McDonald`s restaurants about.

For this you must go off the beaten path. One place you must see is Kisoji. You must go to Kisoji! Tsumago and Magome are two towns in the Kiso or (Kisoji) region of Nagano Prefecture.

You can get their via train and bus from Nagoya. It is well worth it!

I got tired of everyone telling me to go to Kyoto. I mean Kyoto is great especially the old part of the city. But the downtown area looks like any other Japanese city--it is a big city! And it is ugly. The areas of Kyoto with many old buildings however are well worth seeing! And some of the temples like Kiyomizu Dera, Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji are must sees.

In the Kiso they don`t allow any fast food restaurants. And the historical buildings have been refurbished to their former splendor. See smoke wafting up to the rafters of an old samurai`s house, walk the old Daimyo road and eat your dinneron real tatami mats in the old ryokan.

You will almost feel you have entered a different time, one before the Meiji Era! (the Meiji Era started in 1868)

Tohoku is also beautiful and the pace is slower. Kamakura in Kanagawa, is a great traditional temple town and former capitol of Japan. It has decent hiking too!

Nikko is great and you must see the temples and the waterfall there.

Although Tokyo is not pretty, everyone should experience this large energetic city. I love Tokyo.

(Pictured: the clear waters of an Okinawan beach)

You must visit Daiyuzan Temple in Minami Ashigara City. It is also known as Saijoji. The temples of Kyoto are great as mentioned, but imagine temples not surrounded by a huge city,but by huge, very old cedar trees. And Daiyuzan is notjust one temple, it is many temples and shrines all in one area.

You can reach it by tour bus from Tokyo or get there via Daiyuzan train line from Odawara to Daiyuzan Station, then hike or take a bus up to Daiyuzan temple.

For more advice on what to see and do in Japan, read ourTravel guide at our other site. We will tell you where to go. Pardon the expression!

Interview of Junko -- Places to Visit in Japan

Where have you lived in Japan and what is that town or city like?

I have lived in Atami-shi, Yugawara-machi and now I live in Odawara-shi now.

Atami shi is a large town that has many onsens (hot springs)and it is right on the coast on the Izu Penninsula so it isquite a pretty spot.

The whole Izu Penninsula is beautiful and worth seeing.

Yugawara too is a beachside community. It is much smaller than Atami but pretty as well. It is between just south ofOdawara at the foot of the Izu Penninsula.

Odawara is famous for the castle. It is a city of 200,000 people in southeast Kanagawa.

Where should non-Japanese visit in Japan and why?

I 'd like it that they should visit Hiroshima to see the Dome, then understand nuclear weapon's sadness.

(Pictured: The Peace Dome in Hiroshima)

What else should non-Japanese see and do in Japan?

They must visit Mt Fuji.

Is there any food that your recommend expats try while in Japan?

They should try some beautiful Japanese kaiseki-dishes. We taste food with mouth and enjoy food with eyes.

To you, what symbolizes Japan?

Difficult question ! Sumo, Judo,,,, but recently no ! mmmm?? Cities are safe, and the people are industrious. Indeed the royal family is symbolic of Japan.

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