Perspectives to Consider for Your First (or Next) Trip to Japan

As the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) boldly reminds us, Japan is a place of “endless discovery.” Japan is one of the few countries in the world that can marvel travelers with a landscape where ancient temples and Blade Runner-esque cityscapes coexist. Such variety makes Japan travel experiences as unique and diverse as the millions of people from around the world who visit the country annually.

Recently, I reached out to my network, both online and offline, to collect answers to one question: “What would you like to do during your first (or next) trip to Japan?” Read on to see my favorite answers, and discover some new ideas for your upcoming trip.

2019-02-27   Travel Tips,

A mix of old and new

Fuji International Speedway: catching a motorsport event in Japan is a uniquely thrilling activity.

In a response via Quora, Stockholm-based travel blogger Carita Koro described Japan as a “dream destination.” Like many aspiring travelers, eating delicious food, visiting historic temples, and exploring the labyrinthine streets of Tokyo topped her list. However, she was also quick to mention her desire to see the Japanese Grand Prix. As someone who has enthusiastically enjoyed everything from D1 Drift events to Le Mans-style endurance racing, I can attest to the fact that catching motorsport races at one of Japan’s iconic circuits is an unforgettable experience that most top ten lists woefully overlook.

Be it in Honshu or Kyushu, hiking in Japan never disappoints.

Allan Simonds, an assistant vice-president based in Houston, Texas, chimed in via my LinkedIn network: “I’d head to Kyushu for the hiking and onsen [hot springs] of Yufuin and Kurokawa.”

As someone who travels throughout Japan for business and leisure, this certainly resonates with me. No trip to Japan is complete without venturing beyond the convenient yet confining concrete jungle of Tokyo. You’ll find some excellent ideas for off-the-beaten-path adventure in my colleagues’ recent articles on Takahama, Fukui Prefecture:

Experience everyday life

Fred C., a longtime friend and fellow Southern California native, is already contemplating his next trip to Japan and hopes to gain a deeper, down-to-earth understanding of the country.

“For my next trip, I’d like to try more Japanese food, see more sights, and understand the [Tokyo] subway system. I would also observe how ordinary people live their lives. Cherry blossom festivals would be fun too!” –Fred C.
Indeed, one of the biggest misconceptions about traveling in Japan is that it’s hard to get below the culture’s surface—having genuine interactions with the locals. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Need a place to get started? Simply join a local Meetup or drop into an international bar or café to make new friends on day one of your trip.

Your turn

Now that you’ve read a few thoughts and ideas on traveling in Japan, where will you go? What will you do when it’s your turn to take the trip of a lifetime? If you still need a little more inspiration, check out the Tadaima Japan homepage where you’ll find nearly limitless content on the land of endless discovery.

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Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.