5 of Japan’s Best-Kept Secrets
With a historic and vibrant culture, Japan offers much to visitors from abroad. We were lucky enough to get the inside scoop from our Japanese Country Manager Shunichi on five of the best-kept secrets in Japan. Temples, castles, volcanoes and furry creatures – Japan has them all. Be sure to write these down!
1. Kiyomizu Temple
Kiyomizu temple has a long history of 2,700 years. So old that in Japan they have a saying that translates as “jump from the stage of Kiyomizu-no-butai,” which means “to take the plunge.” So what better place to start any Japanese adventure! The temple consists of impressive pagodas built high in the hills and there’s also a waterfall nearby that the temple was named after. On the 12th December every year a kanji character is displayed at the temple to sum up the year that came before (kanji are characters used in modern Japanese writing alongside hiragana and katakana).
2. Shuri Castle, Okinawa
Okinawa is a great place to stay during your visit with its spectacular ocean views, delicious food and kind citizens. Shuri Castle is one of the highlights of any visit to Okinawa. Built over 700 years ago, it’s one of the landmarks Okinawa is very proud to show off. It has seen many wars and battles in its day but now has quiet and well-kept Shikina- en gardens in its centre which make it a relaxing and peaceful place.
3. Fushimi-Inari-Taisha, Kyoto
Picked as the best spot to travel to in Kyoto, Fushimi Shrine is massively popular thanks to its Torii, big gateways that lead into the centre of the Shinto Shrine. I especially recommend visiting in Autumn when you can see all of the amazing coloured leaves falling from the trees.
4. Jigokudani Yaen Koen, Nagano
Can you imagine a little furry monkey taking a bath? Well no need to imagine because in Nagano the local Macaque population can often be seen lounging in or around the hot springs there. This is a great chance to see animal life living very much like humans – washing, bathing and scrubbing their young like any other family in the world!
5. Aogashima, near Tokyo
Aogashima is a volcanic island about an hour’s plane journey from Tokyo city and is lightly populated by about 200 permanent residents. The best reason to visit, aside from its active volcano, are the nights when you can spend hours stargazing in peace and quiet, especially during clear nights. It is considered one of the best places to see the edge of our Milky Way while still on Earth.
So now that you know more about these incredible places, what are you waiting for? Start planning your cambio to Japan by checking out GoCambio’s Japanese Hosts. Or you can invite a Guest from Japan into your home. Who knows, they might have some more incredible places like these to add to your bucket list!
About the Author: Shunichi is GoCambio’s Japan Country Manager. His home town is the beautiful Setagaya just outside of Tokyo, which hosts some beautiful cherry blossom trees during springtime. While some people think he is shy, his good friends (like his GoCambio colleagues) know that he is fun and sociable! You can connect with Shunichi via Facebook or LinkedIn.