Small photo … What is Japan? Splendid. Inconsistent. Fascinating.

Chaos in Tokyo crashed in the waves when I landed for the first time in Japan. I booked my tickets for a whim – I found an affordable last-minute flight and jumped to the opportunity. Even though I had time to secure a Japanese railroad card that allowed me to travel across the country on Shinkansen fast trains, I had expensive things for my trip.

And maybe it's because of the quiet and proper nature of life in Japan, but it all worked somehow. I had a few cultural efforts (more about the next post), I lost a lot more than once (it looks like it!) And I tried to find vegetarian meals. Those hiccups have added to my amazement and joy. Despite the fact that I usually worked in all my travels, I put down my notebook and played the most beautiful tourists for two weeks and explored iconic and less iconic parts of Japan.

And when I spent only two weeks there, I hardly claim professional knowledge, especially when I spent them stunned, my eyes wide and curious at every step. Japanese history and culture are kept to perfection. I was pleased to discover new cultural excitement. And I was surprised to feel anonymous when the crowds in Tokyo drove across the street. There was a huge natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. It is a country I would recommend to someone who would be curious about a thoroughly modern, technologically advanced country that would resist the idea of ​​Western development.

Think about what's going on like a story-book version of my route across Japan (my Japanese Travel Guide shares tiny details). This photo of an essay is a snapshot of what appears to be sinking into travel experience in one of the most fascinating countries in the world.

Shukkei-en garden hiroshima

girls representing selfies in Kamakura

Kofuku-ji Temple

Shibuya, Tokyo

Shibuya featured the Japan I expected – bright lights, vibrant colors, vibrant energy and so on. many. people. A college boyfriend lives in Japan, a happy situation that ensures that my familiar face will lead me during the first days in Tokyo. She walked through a metro maze and an increasing number of people while I was confused.

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

shibuya japan

Zojo-ji Temple and Tokyo Tower

After the amazing tide of adrenaline in Shibuyu, our next stop attracted this modernity with a slice of silence and reflection. In the Zōjō-ji temple, I humiliated Jizō statuettes. These small statues live in the Garden of Unborn Children, and they are the first things you see when entering the temple. Small gifts, clothes and rocks decorate most statues – it's a nice and sweet look, and as a stranger I did not have a clue what they meant at first. These donations reduce the unborn child's trip to the afterlife. Sculptures lie under the giant trees, and the tooth around each statue rotates in the wind. Beautiful and a little scary, this temple was a fascinating first glance at Japanese beliefs and customs related to death and afterlife.

Rising above this quiet garden and temple is the bright orange column of the Tokyo Tower. With observation decks at 150 and 250 meters, views from the top include 360 ​​degree views of the cityscape. I liked to look into the boroughs. As a bird rising above my head, I looked at the shapes and colors of the streets and buildings.

Jizo sculptures in Zojo-ji temple

Jizo sculptures in Zojo-ji temple Jizo sculptures in Zojo-ji temple

Zojo-ji Temple

Zojo-ji temple with the Tokyo temple in the background

Views from the tokyo tower top tokyo tower in japan

tokyo cityscape from tokyo tower

Meiji shrine, Tokyo

Much of Japanese culture focuses on specific customs and rituals. Visiting shrines and temples, tradition and culture will be lit in all aspects. After entering the wooden gate of the tori in Meiji, we stopped admiring the large wall of the sake barrels. These are decorative barrels, which in fact never fill sake, but instead present a larger gift. According to custom, the Meiji sanctuary receives gifts from sake makers throughout the country for the name of many smaller saints. A decorative empty sack barrel accompanies each gift and is then exposed at the entrance to the sanctuary; sanctuaries all over Japan use this gifted jacket for celebrations and holidays. Each barrel is beautiful and unique.

Once we admired the barrels of art, it was up to the temple, with a quick stop in the washing pavilion, where water tanks and pans allow visitors to stand out theme, before entering, which is symbolic cleaning to mean the elimination of evil and pollution.

Yoyogi Park Torii gate to Meiji Shrine 明治 神宮 sacred barrels at the Meiji Jing Shrine in Tokyo

Meiji sanctuary religious hand washing

Temple of Hase-dera, Kamakura

The train system in Japan is phenomenal and I took a day trip to Kamakura, a coastal town near Tokyo. In the Temple of Hase-dera I found a charming garden with a moss where the fairies and elves live. The entire temple complex stretched through the forest. Families worshiped and tourists wandered. I found a strange little entrance that only a few people climbed. The rising trees shone with a gentle mist that cooled the entire garden that kept the soft, mossy and healthy moss floor.

Elsewhere in the temple I found other statues of Jizō. For the first time I met the statues of Jizo in the garden of unborn children in Tokyo and was interested in seeing this other representation. Jizō is a beloved and popular Japanese Bodhisattva known for alleviating the suffering of the living and the dead. And fun of fact, Jizō is also a holy patron of travelers – I imitated the locals and gave him a gentle stream of water on my way.

Hase-dera Temple in Kamakura, Japan

worship in Jizō Hase-dera temple in Kamakura, Japan The little girl pours water shrine in the temple of hase-dera kamakura

Hase-dera Temple in Kamakura, Japan Hase-dera Temple in Kamakura, Japan Hase-dera Temple in Kamakura, Japan

Hase-dera Temple in Kamakura, Japan

Buddha, Kamakura

The most famous part of Kamakura is the magnificent bronze statue of the Buddha in Kōtoku-in, which dates back to 1252. It is a beautiful statue and I love the way bronze splashes over the centuries and visually mark the time. The statue has a height of 40 feet and was used to be gilded, but now there are only slight traces of this gold on the face. The sign outside the temple remarked that it is the Buddha Temple and the Eternal Gate, marking it as an important place in Japanese Buddhism. I did not get to see the interior because the line was crazy (I visited it during the Golden Week), but you can probably see the statue and see the graffiti that have been there for years.

Kōtoku in the temple of the giant Buddha

Kōtoku-in is a Buddhist Temple of the Jōdo-shū section in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan Daibutsu in the temple of Kōtoku Kōtoku - in buddha in kamakura

Temple and Kamakura beaches

Deep shadows hung over the city when I got to my last stop at Kamakura, Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Temple. It is a beautiful temple complex, perhaps one of the slowest that I found in Tokyo and its surroundings. I watched the sun begin to sink into a reflective pond while sitting under the blooming gazebo of a magnificent divination. Earlier in the day I walked to a nearby beach, but the kelp bloomed with orange water blossomed, so I did not lie long.

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Temple

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Kamakura Temple Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Temple Torah Gate at the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Temple

wisteria at Shrine Tsurugaoka Hachimangū shinto shinto

wisteria at Shrine Tsurugaoka Hachimangū shinto shinto reflective pool Tsurugaoka Hachimangū shinto shrine

beach kamakura with red tides

Kiyomizu-Dera, Kyoto

The history of Japan fills every corner of the islands, and I could spend months just by traveling to cities and towns near Tokyo. One day I visited Kawagoe and it is a charming town known for handmade candy. After a few days in Tokyo, however, it was time to go to Kyoto, a city that danced everywhere in history. During my weeks in Japan, I played a great tourist and spent my days away from my computer, instead of walking in and out of complicated gardens and rising temples.

Kiyomizu-dera is one of the most famous temples in the country. Founded in 780, the name means "Clean Water" and was named in such a way that the Otowa Waterfall disintegrates into the ledge and the Temple Complex.

Kiyomizu-dera kyoto

Kiyomizu-dera in the kyoto Kiyomizu-dera Views from the main Kiyomizu-dera Temple statue in the Kiyomizu-dera temple

Main Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Views of Kyoto from Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto.

Kyoto, Japan

My Kyoto imagination was such that I was romantically reading Memoirs of Geisha as a young man. I imagined small streets flowing through low-rise buildings. I heard the whistle of cars and clicks on the geisha heels. Reality is remote. Kyoto is huge. It is a modern city that shines with steel and glass. And yet it's still quaint and historic. I found atmospheric alleyways and aging wooden houses. While I did not see a geisha, honestly, I did not look too hard. Instead I was looking for hidden gardens that hide bamboo. I saw a beautiful performance dance performance in a small temple. I found historical aqueducts leading to small caves. The truck has been transformed into a cat hotel. I found traditional, ancient and strange.

old buildings in Kyoto

bamboo forest Kōdai-ji kyoto temple Kōdai-ji bamboo

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka districts

steps near the Shoren-in Temple Aqueduct in Nanzen-ji temple Nanzen-ji temple aqueduct

The path of philosophy of kyoto The path of philosophy in Kyoto

Protected sandy garden of Ginkaku-ji Ginkaku-ji temple gardens cats on the path of philosophy in Kyoto

Golden Temple, Kyoto

The Kyoto golden temple, Kinkaku-ji, is beautifully reflected in its garden pond. During my time in Japan I found myself amazed at the accuracy of every garden and the demanding care with which the scenes are created. Everything is a reflection of the proper and careful Japanese culture that I discovered within two weeks in the country. This temple, which is formally called Rokuon-ji, was a special reminder to Myanmar. Very few Japanese temples and sculptures are gilded, so the tour of this exciting temple reminded me of all the huge quantities of golden leaves used throughout Myanmar on every surface of their religious sculptures and buildings.

And even more fun than just visiting this temple, I met the reader ALA Moira and her family. We had an e-mail when we arrived to her about a trip around the world and how to school her two children out of the way. I was delighted to find out that my impromptu trip to Japan meant I would go through the paths at their last stop. We crossed the temple complex and then found a sushi restaurant near the conveyor belt to talk about traveling. Hearing their stories one year on the road together was the pinnacle of my time in Kyoto.

Kyoto's golden temple, Kinkaku-ji

children in Kyoto's golden temple, Kinkaku-ji Kyoto's golden temple, Kinkaku-ji

Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto

After confessing to reading the book, I'll be a cop to see the movie Memoirs of Geisha, also. For anyone who saw it, the film beautifully ends with the orange gates of the shrine of Fushimi Inari. The gates of the gates create a long tunnel that ran along the shores of a wooded mountain. It is equally stunning in person. The light slipped through the tree and bent over the tightly packed gates of Japanese businesses because Inari is a long-time trader. The shrine dates back to 711, which is so many centuries I like.

伏 見 稲 荷 大 社, Fushimi Inari Taisha

Orange tori gates in the Fushimi Inari Shrine School girls in the Fushimi Inari Shrine in the valley of Fushimi Inari Orange tori gates in the Fushimi Inari Shrine

Garden Fushimi Inari Shrine

Shrine of Fushimi-Inari Shrine of Fushimi-Inari The girls' school passes through the iconic orange tori through the Fushimi-Inari gates

Gardens of Nara, Japan

Perhaps the most beautiful garden in Japan is in Naru. I say I visited them all. Instead, I just claimed I could not imagine anything nicer than Isuien Garden. Traveling through Japan taught me more about garden landscaping than I thought it was possible. Isuien Garden calls the technique shakkei; lends the surrounding landscape to create a perfectly composed composition. The far temple is part of the Todai-ji temple and the mountains beyond the borders reflect in the pond. I walked this garden on a warm Saturday afternoon, and then I decided to sit on the bench so I could read a little and take the scene.

Isui Garden in Nara Japan

Isui Garden in Nara Japan Isui Garden in Nara Japan

Villa Okochi-Sanso in Arashiyama District

Isui Garden in Nara Japan Gardens of Japan.

Todai-ji Temple, Nara

Todai-ji is one of the largest wooden buildings in the world; its parts come from 728. This is perhaps my favorite of dozens of temples I visited in Japan, and that's because of Komokuten, one of the pair of furious, giant guardians of the Great Buddha. Massive guardians were an unexpected addition to the temple; there are to protect Daibutsu, the largest bronze Buddha in the world. They are an impressive addition to an already stunning temple.


Komokuten in Naru, Japan Komokuten temple of Todai-ji in Naru, Japan Copper aging in Todai-ji Temple in Naru, Japan.

Around Nara

All Nara is a sweet town. Although I know that some people have been visiting for several days, I took a day trip from Kyoto and found out that there was plenty of time to drink in the atmosphere. Slim deer adds an unmistakable spell to visit, and I am pleased to feed them all day, every time I meet them in parks and temples across the city. I love that the cookie on the first photo causes it to look like a deer smiles.

In addition to the deer, the massive temple and the beautiful gardens, there are several other beautiful places. I spent the last hours of sunlight, admiring the view from Nigatsu-dō temple and wandering between the mosque-covered stone lanterns in the Kasuga-taisha shrine.

nara deer deer

crane deer Nara, Japan Nara's Deer Ride nara japan

Kasuga-taisha Shrine

Nigatsu-dō Temple sunset Kofuku-ji temple

park in nasty Kasuga-taisha Shrine

Kasuga-taisha Shrine in Naru, Japan.

Eat all things

Japan is not the world that is most vegetarian friendly – this difference goes to India – but the boy is plenty to eat. Soups have always been easy to find and tasted to consume. And in Hiroshima I had my favorite dishes all the way, okonomiyaki. It's a spicy bowl, and the vegetarian version has noodles, dough, eggs and piles of cabbage – then it's all accompanied by a delicious sauce.

hiroshima style okonomiyaki

Seaweed and spinach, please!

Hiroshima Shrine

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is just as beautiful as the heart. It is a must visit for everyone who travels around the city, but especially to the nearby Americans.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hiroshima Peace Memorial Atomic bomb in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Miyajima Island and Floating Torii

Go to Miyajima Island and plan to spend the day. I know that many people are popping up to see the floating tori, but it's a beautiful island. I was on the last day of the trip before I had to travel back to Tokyo for my flight home, so I decided to make a good adventure. I took the cabin car to the nearest mountain peak, and then I set out for the last 30 minutes after sweeping views of the Japanese coast. I returned in time to the stunning sunset. And as if the hike and sanctuary were not a good reason to spend the day, they also have to bow the deer! 🙂

the tipping deer of Miyajima Island

deer from Japan Itsukushima shrine with tidal floating ferry to the island of miyajima

by cable car on the island of Miyajima

Views from Mt. Misen Mt. Misen miyajima

the tide at the Itsukushima Shrine

Sunset on Miyajima Island, Japan. Sunset on Miyajima Island, Japan. Selfie with floating toroid gate!

Sound over the Itsukushima shrine on Miyajima Island

The visit to Japan was an experience almost frozen in time. I have long dreamed of a visit, but the cost and cultural clash have always prevented me from booking a ticket. I drove through the mountains, visited temples, soup and studied people. It was fascinating and contradictory for two weeks and among the most interesting places I've ever traveled.

Planning a trip to Japan? A detailed tour guide to Japan describes possible routes, minor details and a collection of tips and advice from the ALA community.

This travel story (Small photo … How is Japan like? Beautiful, contrasting, fascinating.) Travel with little enemies
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