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Friday, November 23, 2012

Top 10 Things to do Whilst in Japan

Japan is a terrifically dynamic destination offering an array of awe-inspiring sights and activities for
the visitor all of which make it a staggeringly unique destination. With so much to see and do it's
hard to know where to start so here is a shortlist of ten of the best things to do whilst there.

Cities

Tokyo is an ultra-modern city but at its heart lies deep tradition and a cultural core. The best way to
add a further dimension to any visit here is to head into the Old East Side, just a few steps away from
the main tourist attractions. Here you will find historic theatres, bars serving the legendary local
drink Denki Bran and a small amusement park filled with retro rides, the Hanayashiki Amusement
Park.

Kyoto was once Japan's capital city. Hosting no less than 17 world heritage sites it is one of the
world's greatest cultural centres filled with temples and gardens which should not be missed.

No visit to Japan is complete without remembering the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The Peace Memorial Park and Museum contain poignant reminders of the horrors of nuclear
weapons and are also home to the Flame of Peace which will burn until the last nuclear weapon
on earth has been destroyed. Nearby the Children's Peace Monument is decorated with origami
cranes created by children across the country. The sombre thoughts invoked by these memorials do
not make Hiroshima a depressing place though, as the city is a vibrant thriving place that has never
forgotten its past but which has certainly moved on.

Naoshima is home to three major art galleries and numerous smaller art venues and has gained the
name 'Art Island' for good reason; the art is not only contained in galleries, there are outside art
installations across the island too.

Most of us are familiar with Japan's fine cuisine, but don't stick to the best restaurants embrace
what the locals call B-grade gourmet offerings too, you won't be disappointed.

Searching through So Switch for the ideal holiday to Japan you'll also want to consider what to see
and do outside the major cities as Japan has way more to offer beyond their walls.

Countryside

There are a couple of great ways to spend a night in Japan from staying in the tranquil surrounds of a
mountain top temple with the monks on Mount Koya to sleeping in a traditional ryokan or Japanese
inn.

Ryokan rooms are filled with the scent of tatami, they are understated, you will be attended to and
served by local people who speak little English and the food will be made of local seasonal produce;
everything enjoyed amidst calming silence.

Onsen, or hot springs, are said to have great healing properties and the tradition of bathing naked in
them dates back centuries. Dare to bare and enjoy this experience in one of the numerous springs
around the country.

For a more active trip there can be nothing like hiking in the Northern Alps. Kamikochi is the gateway
town to this spectacular unspoiled scenery which should not be missed especially during the autumn
when the vast forests of birch and Japanese larch take on the incredible colours of the season.

Niseko offers skiing on some of the country's most enjoyable powder snow from three excellent
resorts and there is something deeply moving about the beautiful snow covered peaks which lie
around you.