If you’re looking for a unique cultural experience, where centuries old tradition blends seamlessly with the ultra-modern world of today’s high tech age, then look no further than Japan. From the dazzling bright lights of Shinjuku to the peaceful Japanese gardens and ancient temples of Kyoto, Japan is a country filled with an enriching array of sights, sounds and tastes.
Travel Associates consultant Melanie Clout from Clout & Turner Travel Associates in the Brisbane suburb of Camp Hill, recently travelled to Japan with her family. Taking advantage of the country’s high speed rail system, the family took in much of central Japan and its curvy coastline. From Tokyo to Kyoto, the adventure was one of Cherry Blossoms, nature trails and good food.
Take in Tokyo
Tokyo is the ultimate in urban excitement. The electrifying scene that is Shinjuku, with its bright neon signs and fast paced video advertisements conveys the city’s frantic pace. A shopper’s dream, Tokyo is filled with enormous department stores and funky electronic shops. Follow the charming back streets and the bustling city atmosphere becomes one of quiet laneways filled with warm, inviting cafes and noodle bars, all neatly decorated with Japanese lanterns and handsome Japanese print cloths hanging from door ways.
From Tokyo, Melanie and her family travelled to Kyoto. Surrounded by mountains and set in a valley, Kyoto is a city best explored on foot. A city filled with ancient shrines, lovely gardens and traditional Japanese architecture, much of Kyoto’s history is found within the graceful parks that dot the city’s landscape. Hundreds of classic shrines, temples and even a collection of palaces, many of which are world heritage listed, are a beautiful reflection of Kyoto’s rich cultural and religious significance.
Explore the many parks and city gardens and visitors will come face to face with Kyoto’s rich history, but in springtime, these lush grounds come alive with the blooming of brightly coloured cherry blossoms. This colourful pink and white flower of the Japanese Sakura tree brightens the landscape for months and has become entwined with Japanese culture and tradition.
Getting to know Japan
Seeing much of Japan, Melanie found the country to be safe, clean, and despite the language barrier, surprisingly easy to navigate. “We loved being able to get the kids involved in the local culture and traditions,” said Melanie, “and when visiting, you must try all the local food as it’s just amazing.” Her last bit of advice when travelling Japan? “Definitely have a rail pass as it is truly a fantastic way to get around the country, but always have cash on you as we found it quite difficult to get money from ATMs as most didn’t accept Australian cards.
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