Despite having a large number of newly-built structures and skyscrapers, Japan has maintained the perfect balance of technology and tradition. The towering skyscrapers and aged temples, the steaming bowls of noodles and flavorful Japanese confectioneries, and the traditional markets and vending machines all provide powerful contrasts yet equally complement one another.
Japan has a wide array of unique travel experiences and destinations no matter what type of tourism both local and foreign travelers may be seeking for.
Unfortunately, most travelers are only aware of the Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka circuit. And it is for this reason that I'm currently working on a writing project that aims to feature some of the most unique travel destinations throughout Japan. It kicked off with 47 travel destinations unique to each of the 47 Prefectures in Japan. And as of writing, the 4th prefectural travel guide is already under review and schedule for publishing by one of my host travel blogs.
Meanwhile, I have been in contact with several other travel bloggers to have a piece of their unique travel experiences in this beautiful oriental country.
Chasing Mount Fuji by Claire Delplancq
Mount Fuji can be tricky to see as the views of the volcano are very much weather dependent. However, if you happen to be traveling to or from Tokyo on the southbound Shinkansen, you may be able to see one of the best views of Mount Fuji!
Make sure to take a sit on the right-hand-side of the train if you are leaving Tokyo or the left-hand-side if you are getting into Tokyo, and keep your eyes peeled about 40 minutes out of Tokyo. On a sunny day, the view is amazingly beautiful. Mount Fuji looks gigantic next to the small towns on the flat land around it.
If you want to get a little bit closer to Mount Fuji, head to Hakone. Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is famous for its hot springs, and its views across Lake Ashinoko of Mount Fuji. It is a very popular destination and only an hour out of Tokyo which makes it an accessible day trip if you want a break from the city.
Take the Shinkansen to Odawara Station. In the station, you will find signs for Hakone which will guide you to an office where you can get a map of the area as well as the pass for the train, shuttle, and funicular to the National Park. The view of Mount Fuji across the lake is again very weather dependent, so you may or may not see it there. The best and almost guaranteed views are on the cable car just before entering the station and on the cable car descending toward Togendai.
You may find more of Claire's travels on her blog, Claire Imaginarium.
Roaming with deer in Nara Park by Arti Shah
I wasn’t really prepared for what I encountered in the deer park in Nara. A young school girl giggled with joy as a deer reached out for its food "shika senbei" from her hands. Another group clicked pictures while feeding the deer with their favorite snack.
While watching the scenes around, I was amazed at how responsive and friendly the deer were to human interaction. All around me, I was surrounded by hundreds and thousands of deer roaming around freely enjoying the love, adoration, and attention of tourists and locals alike. In turn, the innocently docile deer touched everyone with their language of innocence and compassion.
Innocence… which regaled everyone present there, with a blissful, bright, unrestrained and joyous feeling, making for a memory to be cherished for a very long time. Some experiences in life fill your heart with a visceral feeling that can only be sensed and feeding, touching, playing with the deer in Nara park was definitely one of them.
To see such a beautiful interaction between people of varied age, nationality and gender and these legendary creatures of Nara is one of the unique things to do in Japan!
A peaceful night at a pilgrim lodging in Mount Koya by Elaine McArdle
Mount Koya is a remote sacred mountain located in the Wakayama Prefecture south of Osaka in Japan. Spending time there is an incredible and unique experience. Koyasan was the birthplace of Shingon Buddhism over 1,200 years ago in Japan and is widely regarded as one of the most sacred places in the country.
We spent a peaceful night in a shukubo, a pilgrim lodging at a traditional Buddhist Temple, feasting on a vegetarian meal, sleeping on the tatami floor and watching the monks at the dawn prayer service, an intimate and unforgettable experience. We took an early morning walk through the Okunoin Buddhist Cemetery which contains over 200,000 unique gravestones and monuments and those resting there wish to be close to Kobo Dashi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism.
The magical Torodo Hall is one of the most incredible things we’ve ever seen on our travels with 10,000 lanterns filling the building from floor to ceiling, illuminating the darkness.
Our time in Koya was tranquil, enlightening and, overall, a truly unique Japan experience.
Read more about Elaine's travels on her blog, Show Them the Globe.
An overnight stay at a Buddhist Temple by Ben McLaughlan
Taiyoji is a Buddhist Temple offering a one of a kind overnight stay. Only 2.5 hours North West of Tokyo finds a sole monk, Asami, residing in this serene landscape. In heavy contrast to the buzzing metropolis of the capital city, these isolated mountains provide a peaceful setting to appreciate nature and further your spiritual self.
Asami, once a stressed Tokyo businessman, opted to move into the wilderness and devote his energy to Buddhism. Through sutra copying, Zazen meditation and chatting to Asami at the local onsen (hot spring) I found a heightened level of respect for Buddhism and nature itself.
Between delicious Shojin Ryori – a vegetarian style of cuisine served at Buddhist Temples – and early morning hikes, experiencing the lovely Taiyoji Temple fast became a Japanese highlight of mine.
Ben writes regularly on his blog, Horizon Unknown.
Food adventures in Hokkaido by Isabel Leong
When in Hokkaido, Japan, there are a few things I will not leave without trying. First of all, it’s the Hokkaido tarts! Every time I visit Japan, I will bring these home to share with my friends and family.
Hokkaido is most famous for their crabs. Most popularly known are the king crab and snow crab. Also, the Yubari melon is quite exclusively found in Hokkaido only, so it’s a must try!
On top of that, you also cannot miss drinking matcha tea, eating matcha ice cream, drinking Sapporo beer, or trying out their donburi, which translates to a bowl of rice topped with fresh, raw seafood. It could be salmon, prawn, sea urchin, (scallop), (squid) or crab meat.
Follow Isabel's travels in her blog, Bel Around the World.
Japan is undeniably an ideal destination part of the world one is coming from or what tourism one is most interested in.
Beautiful Japanese wisteria at the Ashikaga Flower Park by Annemarie Strehl
If you ask me, Japan is a wondrous place and full of local gems. Start your trip directly in Narita at the marvelous Narita-san temple. If you're lucky, you can even be witness to the monks' ceremony. I especially loved strolling through the temple grounds (especially during cherry blossom season) and towards the pond before I returned tot he train station via the vintage street.
As a flower lover I can highly recommend a day trip from Tokyo to Ashikaga Flower Park , where I witnessed the wisteria in late April/early May.
To see UNESCO heritage listed temples and go on extended hikes in nature, my favorite place is Nikko, north of Tokyo.
See move of Annemarie's Japan travels at Travel on the Brain.