Tourism in Japan has been silent and underrated over the past decades. Perception of the country being a prohibitively expensive and close society has made reams of enthusiastic travelers postponing their visits from time to time. Difficulty in tourist visa application deriving from strict immigration policy is another contribution factor. However, in recent years, the government recognized that tourism industry is presenting a path for Japan future’s sustainable growth, and hence they embraced significant changes to explore this potential. Rules and application process for getting visas have been relaxed and access to airports has also greatly improved. Locally-close and private avenues has been made accessible to tourists by the government. Japan tourism industry is rapidly evolving into a world-class business thanks to government incentives and their world-famous high quality services.
Outstanding natural beauty with distinctive four seasons
Japan’s great nature has been inspiring local artists for centuries. Not only artists’ inspiration, nature also appears in the proximity of Japanese daily lives under many different shapes and forms. From designing patterns in kimono fabric; gardens constructed in confined spaces, to nature reduced into miniature presentations by arranging natural objected in tray -landscape. Seasonal festivals celebrating the beauty of nature are also host annually. When you ask a Japanese person what is unique about Japan, there is a likely chance the answer will be “Japan has four seasons.” It might sounds silly to you because what region of the planet doesn’t technically have four seasons? However, Japan’s “four seasons” does not refer to just the names: spring, summer, fall and winter, but to four clearly defined seasons. Not many areas in the world has such clearly separated seasons with distinct color: cherry blossom pink in spring, greenery of foliage in summer, vibrant red, orange and yellow of autumn leaves and white of pristine snow in winter. Japanese people enjoy these signs of the changing seasons. They track the changing progress with weather reports, featuring maps and information showing where the spring blossoms and autumn leaves peak.
Exciting and flamboyant festivals
It is undeniable that Japan has more festivals (matsuri) than almost other countries in the world. Festivals are not limited to just celebration of seasonal festivals, but also celebration of the shrine’s deity and historical occurrence. The festivities themselves vary extensively depending on the occasion, however, in general, they always contain spirited marches of participants enthusiastically chanting, dancing, and bearing massive, intricately-decorated dashi (floats) or omikoshi. Japanese Matsuri bursts with energy and colour, and also rich in tradition. Plan ahead not to miss out on festivals while travelling Japan. Japanese festivals are a fun, unforgettable way to glimpse a bit into Japanese culture.
Remarkable and unique culture
Japan is an ancient culture that is remarkably unique. Contemporary Japan is considered a highly homogeneous society, however, regional diversification in social and cultural patterns has always been significant. Pride of place and identification with local cultural patterns remain sturdy, and regional identity is often strongly expressed through dialects and local culinary specialties.
Japanese cuisine is appreciated globally due to its meticulousness, detailed technique and exquisite presentation. Each regional area has its own assortment of specialty dishes with carefully selected ingredients to complement the dish’s individual flavor. For millennia, rice has always been a crucial source of nutrition and has been an essential ingredient to popular food such are rice cakes and condiments of: Sushi, Okonomiyaki, Tempura, Teppanyaki, Teriyaki, to name but a few. Do you know that Tempura, Sushi and Ramen – three irrefutable iconic dishes – are ‘new’ creations from the last few hundred years? So then, what is a “traditional” Japanese dish? Washoku it is! Washoku are Japanese traditional homemade food, consisting of cooked rice, soups, pickles and side dishes. Washoku has been recently designated UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as an encouragement to preserve traditional culinary.
Another highlight of Japan culture is traditional ritual: tea ceremony. A ceremonial and cultural presentation of powdered green tea ‘Matcha’.The ceremony is to form a bond between host and guest that demonstrates the spirit of generosity and respect. The Japanese tea ceremony is a long standing tradition, and the very first refreshing brew was introduced in the 9th century. Its initial usage was for religious rituals in Buddhist monasteries, and then gradually become a status symbol for the elites and military officials. Over the years, tea drinking has been extended to reach the common people and tea ceremony has become a vital part of Japanese lives. Nowadays, Japan travelers can enjoy tea ceremony at machiya – a traditional house.
Visitors should not miss Geisha – living custodians of Japanese culture and one of the iconic symbols of Japan. Geisha are performing artists, adept at playing a range of musical instruments, traditional dance and mannered conversation.
Beside Geisha, Sumo is another living custodian of Japan. With the long and proud history, sumo is considered the national sport. Sumo’s strict rules and traditions have survived modernity and are still rigorously adhered to. The idea behind the sport is that two Rikishi’s (wrestlers) compete, push and try to throw each other out of the Dohyo (circular ring). The winner will be the wrestler who forces his opponent to the ground or out of the circle. There are six Basho (tournaments) a year, each holding 15 bouts. There are rituals and ceremonies performed before practice and bouts.
Exotic accommodation is another remark of Japan. Ryokan is a traditional inn that originated in the Edo period, when such inns served travelers along Japan’s highways. The typical ryokan often feature tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear yukatas – a casual summer kimono usually made of cotton or synthetic fabric, and unlined. Within many ryokan, visitors can find onsen – literally translated as natural hot springs. Onsen comes with many types, distinguished by the minerals dissolved in the water. Bathing in onsen is believed to improve your health and have relaxing effect on your body and mind.
Japan exceptional natural exquisiteness, flamboyant festivals and remarkable culture still remains an unfamiliar destination to most Asian travelers, in comparison to popular and not-so-pricey areas like Indochina and China mainland. However, Japan has embraced significant changes to spread the “Beauty of Japan” to the world and bring an extraordinary experience of Japanese culture to international visitors. Based in the capital Tokyo, Beauty Of Japan hope to share our genuine local experience, and our everyday inspiration to live and breathe Japan by crafting a rewarding journey for your clients.