Japan is a land blooming in culture, trends and nature. Witness the co-existence of history and modern culture in Japan, one of the world’s leading nations in fashion and technology. Japan’s colorful nature and wide variety of activities are just some of the reasons why its cities are the world’s top family vacation destinations. Each city offers a unique experience like the temples and shrines in Kyoto or the futuristic architecture in Tokyo. Travelers will leave Japan inspired by its creativity and vivid landscapes.
As a nation filled with culture, Japan is full of tasteful delights that are even internationally renowned. With its history as an isolated island, Japan has many unique dishes including its seafood specialties.
- Sushi- This is Japan’s most famous dish. It is a dish with vinegared rice and a variety of ingredients including seafood and vegetables. There are many varieties of sushi. It is often served with raw fish. Similar to sushi, sashimi is a dish with thin slices of raw fish.
- Ramen- It is noodle with soup made of meat broth, soy sauce or miso, sliced pork, seaweed, menma and green onions. Ramen also has a wide variety in every region.
- Udon- Udon is a thick wheat flour noodle often served in hot broth. It can also be served stir-fried with meat and vegetables.
- Shabu Shabu- Japanese hotpot dish with thinly sliced beef and vegetables in boiling broth. The slices are cooked in the broth and eaten a few at a time.
- Tonkatsu- Tonkatsu is deep-fried pork cutlet. The dish was created during the late 19th century when Japan became open to Western influence.
- Curry- After the Europeans imported curry from India, they brought it over to Japan. Japan adapted the dish to their own tastes. There are many versions of curry including curry tonkatsu and instant curry.
- Fuji- It is both Japan’s highest mountain and active volcano. Taking the train is the best way to witness its landscape. It is a standing icon within Japan’s history and culture that has inspired many Japanese artists.
- Senso-Ji- It is a Buddhist temple dedicated to Kannon, the goddess of mercy. It is one of Tokyo’s oldest and most sacred temples. Legends say that the temple was built to enshrine the statute of Kannon found by the Hinokuma brothers in the Sumida River. The colorful temples is filled with sights with bustling people, sacred shrines and alluring lights in the night.
- Imperial Palace- The Imperial Palace is the former site of the Edo castle. The current residence of the imperial family has a large park area surrounded by huge stone walls. Although some of its grounds are not open to the public, visitors can still find many sights including the gorgeous moats that surround the palace. Nijubashi, the double bridge over the moat, is the most notable attraction within the grounds.
- Tokyo Skytree- The 643 meter tower is the world’s tallest stand-alone communication tower. Whether it is day or night, visitors can catch a beautiful view of the city from its decks. As one of Tokyo’s icon, the tower is also located within a town filled with shops, a planetarium and an aquarium.
As the birthplace of karaoke, Japan has one of the world’s top nightlife. Japan has some of the world’s most modern and populated cities. As the world’s biggest metropolitan city, Tokyo has some of the best nightlife Japan has to offer. From karaokes to fabulous clubs, Japan’s nightlife caters to everyone who is looking for some afterhour fun. Roppongi is Tokyo’s upscale district filled with the best bars and mega clubs with both foreigners and locals. Womb is one of the most famous mega clubs in Roppongi. Shibuya-ku attracts a more different crowd than the wild party lovers Roppongi. The district, not too far from Roppongi, offers more intimate bars, clubs, and alternative/indie music.
Japan’s currency is the yen. The bigger cities have international ATMs throughout. Although credit cards are accepted in larger businesses, it is wise to have cash.
Customs & Languages
Japanese, or Nihongo, is spoken primarily in Japan and is the national language of this country, mostly toward mainland Japan. The Chinese language has heavily influenced the Japanese language, where in the Late Middle Japanese is when changes start to occur, to what is now known as the modern Japanese language. There are different dialect per region such as Kagoshima, Kansai, and many more. The country was influenced by Asia, Europe, and North America; with heavy and strong influences from China due to them being a regional powerhouse. Although heavily influenced by other countries, there are some things that you must (not) do in Japan! When you are indoors, you are expected to take your shoes off. Do not point! Pointing is considered rude in Japan, and it is better to gently wave. In the eating culture, especially sushi, you are to dip your sashimi fish into the soy sauce from the fish side, not the rice. After finishing your piece, they will give you your next one. These are just a few things!
Here are some helpful words/phrases:
- Hello — Kon’nichiwa
- Thank you — Arigatōgozaimashita
- Where is the toilet? — Toire wa dokodesu ka?
- Please — Onegaishimasu
- Excuse me — Sumimasen