Top 5 Japan Adventures: Past and Future

Well, I’ve just passed the halfway point of my stay in Japan, assuming that three years is our limit (which we’re pretty sure it is at this point). Also, I’ve just recently accomplished my number one travel goal in Japan: Hokkaido! So I think it’s a good time to reflect on the best adventures I’ve had here so far, and the adventures I’m most hoping to have before I am gone!

Past 5th Place: Iga, Land of the Ninjas

On our most recent trip to Iga, during the ninja festival, we, along with a large and probably terrifying group of fellow foreigners, donned ninja costumes and invaded the town.

This, so far, is my favourite place in Mie, my prefecture. Ninjas have captured my imagination since I was old enough to watch TMNT, so Iga’s ninja museum, ninja castle, ninja weapons demonstrations, and ninja town is like a dream come true. Plus my friend’s little sister works there as a REAL ninja! And let us not forget the crazy tea shop guy!

More info here: Finding my Inner Ninja and here: Iga Ueno-Jo & Our Near-death Experience.

Past 4th Place: Kyoto x6

One of Kyoto’s most famous places, Kinkakuji (Gold) Temple. I finally made it there on my most recent Kyoto adventure!

I have been to Kyoto six times, three times with my school and three times with friends, and each time was a different and awesome adventure. One would probably never run out of things to do and see in Kyoto, as it would take years to experience everything Kyoto has to offer.

More info here: Summer melting in Kyoto: English club tour of Kiyomizu Temple and here: Kyoto Meditation Experience and Russian Borscht.

Past 3rd Place: Tokyo Disney Resort

Aagh! We’ve been surrounded by army men! Complete with the extra plastic foot moulds!

Okay, so you may be thinking “You’re sandwiching DISNEYLAND between KYOTO and HIROSHIMA?!! Blasphemy!” But come on, it was so much fun! I absolutely loved Tokyo Disneyland more than I ever thought possible, and I definitely want to go back again. And again. The secret to extra enjoyment is going on weekdays during fall or spring (comfortable temperatures and way less busy), and this magical thing called the fast pass that you can get for your favourite rides every couple of hours!

Sorry! No previous blog posts on this one! Maybe next time!

Past 2nd Place: Hiroshima/Miyajima

The preserved A-bomb dome in Hiroshima’s Peace Park, which survived because of it’s location directly beneath the blast, glows eerily at night as a vivid reminder of the past.

Hiroshima is the most beautiful city I’ve been to in Japan, and a place of immense historical importance. But one of the most beautiful things about it is the way Hiroshima has taken the past and used it to inspire a better future, through preservation and anti-nuclear weapons activism. Also, Hiroshima okonomiyaki is the best. Nearby Miyajima, just a ferry ride away, is home to the famous floating torii (gate), a lot of monkeys and rather intrusive deer, and the very delicious momiji manju snack (maple cake with various fillings).

More info here: Hiroshima & Miyajima – What the history books didn’t teach.

Past 1st Place: Hokkaido

I heart Hokkaido!

No surprises here. I expected Hokkaido to be epic, and it was. It was a magical snow wonderland. Snow festival, snow sculptures, snowboarding, snow-covered chocolate factories, and much much more. It is the number one place I’ve been to by far, and the number one place I want to go back to again. Enough said.

More info here: Following my Hokkaido Dream.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that brief jaunt through the adventure highlights of the recent past. Now, onwards to the future!

Future 5th Place: The Top of Mt. Fuji

I tried to reach the top of Mt. Fuji once before, but it tried to kill us!

I am reluctant to put this place on the list at all, as it’s a bit of a sore spot. Yes, I have been to Mt. Fuji before. No, I didn’t reach the summit. Yes, they do say “A wise person climbs Mt. Fuji once but only a fool would climb it twice,” or something like that. So call me a fool! I want to finish what I started!

More info here: Fuji-san part one: Facing off with Mother Nature and here: Fuji-san part two: How to recover from a near-death experience.

Future 4th Place: Outdoor Onsen

An outdoor onsen in Wakayama prefecture, not too far away! photo: Wikimedia Commons

I have no particular location for this in mind, but an outdoor onsen (hot spring) is something I want to go to one day! I have been to lots of outdoor hot springs in Canada, but never in Japan. I suppose they’re pretty much the same, beautiful and steamy and sulfury and all that, but there’s one notable difference between hot springs in Canada vs. onsen in Japan: in Japan you go au naturale! Not many things seem very adventurous in comparison to being naked in the great outdoors with a group of strangers, and have that be completely socially normative no less, so that’s why this makes the list.

Future 3rd Place: Japan’s 4 greatest castles (2 down, 2 to go)

The four national treasure castles of Japan: two down, two to go! Himeji & Matsumoto Castle photos: wikimedia commons

Four castles make the list of Japan’s national treasures, and I’ve already been to two of them, Inuyama Castle and Hikone Castle. That leaves me with Himeji Castle (definitely the most famous) and Matsumoto Castle (it’s black!). Unfortunately Himeji is under serious restoration until like 2015, so there’s not much to see there, but I do want to see it in all its glory one day!

Future 2nd Place: The treehouse village of Shikoku

A treehouse in… not Shikoku, but a screenshot from the epic computer game Myst.

I set upon this adventure in my mind when I saw a local photography exhibit of a trek through Shikoku, by a photographer in a neighbouring town. I don’t know that an actual “treehouse village” exists, but the landscapes were fascinating and a couple of the photos featured elaborate treehouses not too unlike the one pictured above. I can’t find much about the treehouses online, so it will have to be a rely-on-the-locals kind of adventure. Sometimes those are the best kind!

Future 1st Place: Tokyo Game Show (TGS)

A sign of things to come: This is me demo-ing a dance game at the Amusement Operator’s Union (AOU) two weeks ago in Tokyo. A blog post about this event is also forthcoming!

Okay so I have been to Tokyo a handful of times already. But TGS is a world of its own, and an adventure that I am hoping to experience at least once! Now that my grand Hokkaido adventure is over, this is probably the next Japan adventure I am most looking forward to! If all goes according to plan, I will be there with a press pass in hand this coming September! Get ready for some behind the scenes awesomeness.

That’s all for now! Feel free to comment on any of these, particularly if you have any experience or advice regarding my hopefully future adventures!


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8 thoughts on “Top 5 Japan Adventures: Past and Future

  1. I loved your pictures and stories. Can’t wait to see what a press pass could do.
    What you are writing already is Nija superb.

    We always look forward to your next adventure – this is such a great venue to stay in touch and share in a way just a letter could not convey.

    Sending you hugs & west coast wishes,
    Auntie Maddy

  2. Wow, what a memory generator this trip is building for you. Good on ya!
    Hey, is it just me or is the A-bomb dome in Hiroshima’s Peace Park still glowing green? I hope you had your tinfoil underwear on? 🙂

    • I don’t know if you’re allowed to make jokes like that :O

      They light it up green at night, it’s pretty eerie, but it looks really cool. It’s not green during the day, asides from the roof dome part of the building, which is actually green because of the copper oxidization.

    • If you mean “press pass” you have to be press, I went with my friend who writes for some gaming websites, as his photographer. I’ll be posting about it later when I get my hands on the rest of the photos!

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