There are wonders in Japan in every corner from the heritage to the contemporary. If you are planning to visit Japan anytime soon, make sure you check the following places out.
The perfect place to make wishes. The Shrines (“Jinja”) worship different gods/spirits, each granting unique blessings to its visitors. For instance, the Tenman-gu – which worships the God of Knowledge in Japan – would be crowded with students wishing for good grades. There are also other shrines that worship gods (and so offer blessings) for beauty, prosperity, and even gorgeous hair!
To make a wish, you could pray in front of the Hall of Worship (“Haiden”), make a donation and ring the bell. Or you could purchase the wooden plaque (“Ema”), write down your wish and hang it on the wishing wall. The final and simplest way of all would, of course, be to purchase the Amulet (“Omamori”) from the shrines.
The castles are where the ancient thanes (lords of the castles) reside. The primary construction material used back in the day was normally wood. However, most of the wooden castles were damaged during the conflicts. Hence, some castles, eg Osaka Castle (“Osaka-jou”), were repaired and recreated with concrete. Still, you can experience the history of the thanes from the reconstructed castles.
Although the appearance of the temples are generally not as attractive as the shrines and castles, a visit to the neat gardens surrounding the Buddhist temples often proves to be worthwhile. Many of the famous Buddhist temples are also great spots for cherry blossoms (“Sakura”) and maple. The classic Buddhist temples include Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji and Tenryu-ji.
The world famous pink cherry blossoms (“Sakura”) are often perceived as a vivid symbol of Japan in visual illustrations worldwide. From January to May every year, Sakura start their show all the way from Okinawa in the South to the Northern parts of Japan. Many of the shrines, castles and Buddhist temples are popular places for Sakura. In particular, we would recommend the Arashi-yama Park and Philosophers’ Walk (“Tetsugaku-no-michi”) in Kyoto.
Before you make a visit, make sure you check the official and all the private sites providing real-time status of the blossoms. Note that the cherry blossoms are mostly white, with only very limited species being pink in color…
Found that Glico signboard? Yup, you are at Dontonbori.
After your long day visiting the heritages and landscape, time to seek the metropolitan side of Japan. After you have taken selfies at the signature Glico and Kani Doraku signboards in Dontonbori, take your time with the delicious street food all around. Osaka omelets (“Okonomiyaki”), octopus eggballs (“Takoyaki”) and even the fried noodles (“Yakisoba”) all taste great – nothing like you can have outside Japan.
Miu is the editor of www.dittou.com. English edit by Snail @dittou. Dittou is a Hong Kong-based travel information platform focusing on fine travel and in-depth cultural features where everyone can be a contributor. Its founders were bored by budget travel advisor sites and would rather enjoy and share little travel luxuries. For more on South East Asian travel, follow their fantastic photostream on Instagram: @dittoutravel