Just Go To Japan Please

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove near Kyoto.

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove near Kyoto.

That’s what I have said when people asked me how my recent trip to Japan was. I tell them exactly this “Just go to Japan please.” The reason I tell them this is it’s hard to articulate in a two minute conversation why it was such an amazing trip and a wonderful place.
I won’t even be able to get that across to the point I wish I could in this blog but I will try, in a quick thirty second summary I don’t know what to say.
What I can say is that it was one of my favorite trips I have ever taken in my life and I highly, highly, did I say highly, recommend you going and seeing for yourself!

That’s the thing about travel. You can’t get the amazing perspective travel gives you by just hearing it from me.

You can’t get my experiences, feelings, and adventures by just hearing the stories or reading a blog. I think Amy and I created Hashtag 59 to share ideas and inspire others but it certainly can not, nor is it intended to, replace the true perspective and energy you can get from your own travels.
Go and find out for yourself. The rest of this blog is 10 reasons why I loved Japan and I hope you’ll find that as a result of these 10 reasons you will go yourself. Just go to Japan please.

If you want some tips & tricks as you start planning your trip John B’s post was on point for some key items to know when going, read it HERE. If you want to hear more about Asia beyond Japan check out our podcast.

Heading up to the top of the Kurama-Dera Mountain Temple.

Heading up to the top of the Kurama-Dera Mountain Temple.

My 10 reasons without further ado…

  1. The people.
    The Japanese are so incredibly calm, kind, and giving. From the gentlemen who spent ten minutes explaining the difference between the Tokyo Metro lines to me to the train conductor who refunded our money because we purchased the wrong tickets to the folks at the hotel who would wave us goodbye like we were best friends the people were simply amazing.

  2. The scenery.
    From trail running to the top of Mt Misen on Miyajima Island to the Bamboo Groves in Kyoto and Tokyo to the gorgeous botanical zen gardens it truly is a beautiful place. Even a crowded city like Tokyo had its beauty in how organized and simplistic in design it is.

  3. The public transit.
    If you are unconvinced as an American that public transit is the way our country should be looking to improve and complement our interstate systems and cut back on commuter jams within city look no further than Japan. From the city buses to the subways lines to the Shinkansen bullet trains they have public transit down. It’s also clean, affordable, on time, and quiet. All wonderful attributes if you ask me!

The “floating” Itsukushima Shrine.

The “floating” Itsukushima Shrine.

4. The food.
We ate so many good meals it’s hard to say what was my favorite. The small ramen shops in downtown Tokyo where you order via a vending machine and then place a token on the counter were an experience you must try out at least once! We also did a cooking class with Cooking Sun that was so much fun and I would highly recommend. When given the option always turn down the American breakfast for the Japanese breakfast, you won’t regret it!

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5. The Temples and Shrines.
Much like the churches of Western & Eastern Europe the Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines of Japan are amazing to witness and explore. The Daisho-In Temple in Miyajima and a few in the town of Kamakura were my favorites. Part of this I believe was they were less crowded and allowed more time for un rushed exploration and reflection.

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6. The Peace.
Visiting the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park has the ability to be a life changing experience I believe. At the very least it offers amazing and unique perspectives on how they view war and their first hand knowledge of the devastation that was created as a result of WWII and the bombing on their city.
Hiroshima is now leading the charge for world peace, the removal of atomic bombs, and several world like Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama have visited this wonderful place. Seeing how they view war now is refreshing and hopeful to me that more can look at it like this because if we do there will be much less of it.

Art inside the Peace Museum from a bombing victims thoughts the day it was dropped.

Art inside the Peace Museum from a bombing victims thoughts the day it was dropped.

7. The Fun!
You get to monkey around for a few weeks somewhere different. Literally you can go to the Monkey Park and hang with the Spider Monkeys or you can just be. We did touristy stuff and way normal stuff I like to do at home (coffee shops, yoga, hiking). Either way it’s all new and it’s all different and to me that equals FUN and we should all have more FUN every single day of our lives!

Spider Monkey at the Monkey Park you can hike to  HERE.

Spider Monkey at the Monkey Park you can hike to HERE.

8. The Art.
The Japanese have perfected art in my eyes. From the museums to the way in which they present food to the amazing GEAR Show (an incredible non-verbal performance) in Kyoto everything they create art wise to me is beautiful and elegant and creative while filled with simplicity.
I want my life to fill this simple yet creative.

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9. The History
Everything is older in Japan than in most countries because Japan has been at it for a loooooooonnnng time. From the tour we took of the Imperial Palace to seeing the ancient temples or hearing the stories about the samurai (the samurai sword class was SOLD OUT the whole time we were there) to even the ancient traditions still instilled in sumo wrestling matches the Japanese have balanced history and modernity in a fantastic fashion.
You can feel it everywhere.

Kyozimu-Dera Temple

Kyozimu-Dera Temple

10. You should just travel more. Period.
No matter how much you travel around the world you should do more of it. No matter how much money you have, how old you are, how young you are, how much you like to travel, or how much you like to travel.
Travel teaches you (I spent three months learning basic Japanese prior to going), travel gives you perspective (Holy Shit Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park you are so inspiring), and it makes you a happier and more intelligent global citizen.

The world needs more people experiencing more cultures.
The world needs more people reading and learning instead of judging and ranting.
The world is
safer than it has ever been (I felt 5x safer everywhere I went in Japan than I do walking the streets of my own city and I feel safe in my own city), it’s an enormous place filled with so much wonder, and I just think it would be a shame if you missed out on seeing some of its beauty.

Japan is one place you should go to but beyond that you should consider traveling more. And more. And even more.

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Have you been to Japan? What’s your favorite reason people should go? Comment below!

Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Mike R and The Hashtag 59 Team

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