Japan is a unique destination. Whether you want to go there to watch the Rugby World Cup or to experience their rich culture, do your homework before you go! Japan consists of 6 852 islands, has the shortest escalator in the world (four steps), is home to more than a dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is, of course, the birthplace of sushi. But where do you start when you get off the plane?
Rugby World Cup
If you are going to attend the Rugby World Cup, you will surely start in Tokyo. The Springboks’ first match against New Zealand is about 30 km from Tokyo in the Yokohama International Stadium.
There’s lots to do in Tokyo. With its 37 million inhabitants, Tokyo is the largest city in the world, and there is a wealth of experiences to tick on your list. You can visit the Tsukiji Fish Market or tour the Owakudani Valley. The Springboks’ next game is against Namibia, almost 300 km from Yokohama in the Toyota Stadium. Thereafter, all the Springbok supporters first go to Shizuoka where South Africa play against Italy and then to Kobe City for the Boks’ last pool match.
To-do list for Japan
Taste beer in Sapporo
The Sapporo Beer Museum has been brewing beer since 1877 and has an excellent display of the history of beer brewing in Japan. Next to the beer museum, there is the Sapporo beer garden with several restaurants. Do try the famous Jingisukan, a dish named after Genghis Khan, in Sapporo.
Relax at Lake Toya’s hot springs
Lake Toya is a volcanic lake in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. The lake is approximately 10 km in diameter and is surrounded by hot springs. It is ideal for a day’s relaxation in the beautiful scenery.
Eat seafood in Hakodate
The city of Hakodate is on the island of Hokkaido. Although locals often vacation there, few international tourists go there. Hakodate is the best place to eat seafood. Japan eats more fish than any other country in the world – 7,5 billion tons a year. This is 10% of all fish caught annually. You can also visit the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse for shopping.
Hiroshima surely is one of Japan’s most famous tourist attractions. Visit the Peace Monument (also called the Atomic Bomb Dome) that was erected after America dropped an atomic bomb in that area in 1945.
See robots in the Robot Restaurant
While you are in Japan, you should see robots – and there is no better place than the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo. Laser lights, singers, dinosaurs and robots – enter another world where you can watch a memorable 90-minute performance three times a day.
See sumo wrestlers
In Tokyo, you can also go on a tour to see sumo wrestlers in action during their morning practice routine. There are several centres across the city where you can attend daily exercises.
Experience virtual reality
Japan is at the forefront of technology and their virtual amusement parks are something special. The largest and newest park is in Shinjuku; it offers numerous attractions such as Mario Kart, Dragon Ball and Ghost in the Shell. Another option is Zero Latency in Tokyo where up to six people wearing VR glasses can play simultaneously. The VR Park Tokyo offers games where you can walk in a rainforest or run in a war zone.
Visit a pet cafe
Japan is known worldwide for its cat cafes where you can have a cup of coffee while petting a pet. You can now caress much more than cats; there are also pigs, owls, dogs, rabbits, goats, squirrels, foxes and reptiles. It’s a unique way to enjoy a drink with friends, and it’s also great for relieving stress. In addition to animal cafes, Japan also has maid cafés where waitresses in French maid suits treat you like a master. Japan is indeed unique!
Stay over in a ryokan
A ryokan is a traditional Japanese hotel with shared bathrooms and public areas. It is a unique experience to sleep in a minimalist room on a tatami (Japanese straw mat) or a futon (a kind of mattress) and wear a yukata (a Japanese gown) and slippers. Some of these hotels also have hot water baths where you can get an authentic Japanese experience.
After these nine experiences, you have really experienced Japan! And remember, while you are there, you must of course taste sushi, sashimi (raw fish with rice), tempura (deep fried fish), jakitori (chicken sauces), miso (fish or pork soup) and sukijaki (beef with soy sauce).
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