Only 2 days left until I fly to Japan. In honor of this I decided to make a list of my top ten places I want to travel to while in Japan. The actual list is much longer and for interest sake I mixed it up with popular tourist spots and places off the beaten tourist path. Without further ado here are my top ten:
1. The Most Northern and Southern Points
Finding the farthest points in this long country is a recent idea. I am curious to find out what lies at the ends of the archipelago.
- North: Rishiri-to (利尻島) and Rebun-to (礼文島)
- South: Iriomote-jima (西表島) and Yonaguni-jima (与那国島)
2. The Sapporo Snow Festival/ Sapporo Yuki-Matsuri 札幌雪祭り
I had to leave Sapporo before this festival and it has been on my bucket list since. I actually watched workers set up the platforms in Odori Park at the end of fall.
3. Hiroshima/Iwakuni 広島/岩国
I want to visit the Hiroshima Peace Monument Park to pay my respects and learn more about World War 2 Japan and the aftermath of the atomic bomb. Not far from Hiroshima is the town Iwakuni where my exchange sister Yuka is from and I am dying to meet her family and experience her hometown.
4. Ghibli Museum
What can I say? I am a fan and a child at heart.
5. Shikoku 四国
The smallest on the main four islands of Japan. It is most known for its 88 temple pilgrimage. Along with the temples I want to go to the Iya Valley and Chiiori. There is a lot of history tied to the valley and with steep gorges and thick forests. Within the Iya Valley there is a place called Chiiori that has gone through a huge restoration to preserve the traditional architecture and aesthetics.
The 88 temple pilgrimage, Iya Valley, and ChiioriVal
An island art museum. Started in the 90’s for a companies growing art collection of modern art and turned into a full blown museum with open air installations and galleries. A funky, artsy place that is easy to bike around.
An ancient town known for its history and deer. I missed when I was in Kyoto 3 years ago.
Located in the Tohoku (ie northern Honshu), this is a treasure trove of Japanese folklore and myth. Supposedly it is home to the country’s larget concentration of kappa (water imps with thick shells, pointy beaks, and enjoy eating cucumbers.
The southernmost metropolis on Kyushu is known for it’s relaxed and friendly nature despite sitting in the shadow of an active volcano. It was the site of one of Japan’s first encounters with Christianity and the West and has huge ties to the Meiji Restoration.
10. Ogasawara Archipelago
Though technically a part of Tokyo Prefecture these islands lie about 25 hours away by boat! It was recently declared a world heritage site and packed with nature – coral reefs and forests. It also has a tie to World War 2.