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
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!
Past 4th Place: Kyoto x6
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.
Past 3rd Place: Tokyo Disney Resort
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
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
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 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!
Future 4th Place: Outdoor Onsen
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)
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
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)
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!