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East Asia >> Japan Tourism

Japan Tourism

Cherry blossoms and rock gardens, chrysanthemums and bonsai, microchips and mega industries, kimonos and kabuki, geishas and samurais, haiku and hara-kiri, Japan presents the visitor with a study in contrasts. It can be very modern with concrete jungles like Tokyo- or it can present an enchanting, typically Japanese picture of settlements like Kyoto, with its myriad gardens and temples. It can wear the serenity of Mt. Fuji or scramble with the rush hour traffic of downtown Tokyo.

In between lies a whole host of cities and towns, some with historical associations, like the legendary port of Yokohama, much celebrated in fiction; and some associated with everlasting human tragedies. But there is one thing all of Japan has in common, and that is an unfailing sense of tradition and culture. No matter how modern, how technologically advanced the Japanese might become, there is always an affinity for tradition: and this is reflected in every aspect of their lives. Under the steel and the concrete lies Nippon- with its temples, its gardens, its streets and its tea-houses: very traditional, very Japanese.

Japan is a bit awesome for many foreigners- there’s something very strait-laced and very regimental about the Japanese, or so it would appear, to a casual observer and the country as such is so perfect- efficient, clean, beautiful- that it can be a little intimidating- if you don’t dig any further. The image Japan has acquired over the years is of a country where dignity, honour and hard work are ethics so part of life that they have become bywords for the country and its people.

But scratch the surface, and you’ll find a land that is extremely beautiful, where values, morals and good manners are prized but faux pas are tolerated, a people who can be very hospitable and very warm, once you come to know them. And, as a tourist, you should, if you really want to get to the core of Japan, try to get to know its people- their culture, their customs, their ability to be very traditional and yet very, very contemporary.

Japan is an enigma - travel to Japan to discover it!

It is customary to change or take off your shoes when you enter some restaurants so be prepared. Wear slip- on shoes instead of tie-ups – much easier to take off.

Bathing is quite a ritual in Japan and it would be wise to be aware of the customary practices. These days it is common practice to have separate bathing areas for men and women. In the small ryokans or in Japanese homes normally one bathes in the evenings. Also be aware that very often there is only one bathroom in the house and the bathtub is used only for soaking by everyone. So be sure not to pull out the plug after you finish as also be careful not to step in with soap on you!

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