Phil's Travel Pages (Asia and the Orient - Japan)
- Martial Arts
History and tradition blended with high-technology and a dynamic environment make Japan a unique place to visit.
The best time of the year to visit Japan is definately in early April, during the cherry-blossom season. During this time you can not only enjoy the sight and scent of these beautiful flowers (their petals falling around you like a gentle shower of snow), you also join in the local festivities that occur throughout the country then.
Japan's combined Shinto (worship of nature) and Buddhist beliefs are evident in their architecture and in the many temples and shrines that are dotted all over the whole country.
For anyone that has an interest in Eastern philosophy or martial traditions, Japan is THE place to visit. While its bigger cities are very modern and high-tech, it has retained and preserved it's heritage better than many other countries.
The Japanese people are polite and helpful, though they speak less English the further you move away from the large cities like Osaka and Tokyo. If you plan to venture far from the maddening crowds it is wise to either learn a little of the language or perhaps travel with a Japanese-speaking guide.
The Japanese love of harmony and simplicity is apparent in many areas of their art and culture.
They see beauty in many of the simple pleasures that the rest of us often over-look (for example, "Moon-Viewing" evenings are commonplace - they simply pack up a thermos of hot Sake and a few cups, find a nice vantage point and get together with some friends to watch the full moon over some hot rice wine, pleasant conversation and good company).
Mixed into this, is a strong sense of how the Japanese have taken their place in the modern world.
They have their problems; very little arable land and natural resources (most of Japan is mountains), a large population (25 million in Tokyo alone) to support and others, but they constantly strive to find new and innovative ways to improve their way of life and are one of the most adaptable countries in the world.