Posted on 04/02/2023
Japan’s culture was thousands of years in the making, and travelers can get a taste of both the new and electric AND the ancient and serene when they visit this island nation.
Japan’s juxtaposition is alluring for many travelers. In the same afternoon, they may zip from the neon-lit streets of Tokyo on the shinkansen bullet train to the peaceful Ise Shrine, where they’ll trade hustle and bustle for time wandering among the serenity of an ancient grand shrine, looking up to thatched roofs and raw wood of buildings. And this incredible spirit, so heavily influenced by past and present, can be felt throughout every avenue of Japan’s rich culture.
History lovers may be drawn to Japan’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Maybe you’ll embrace the unique charms of Shirakawa-go. Hidden away in the mountain, this harmonious village is famous for its gassho-zukuri-style houses – thatched-rooftops designed to resemble two hands joined in prayer. You can ferry to Miyajima Island, or “Shrine Island,” with its famous O-torii Gate.
Beyond UNESCO sites, there are scores of other must-sees in the Land of the Rising Sun. Explore Fushimi Inaria Taisha for a tour of the most revered shrine in Inari. When you follow the rows of orange torii weaving through the forest, you may just feel as if you’ve stepped into the movie Memoirs of a Geisha.
Delving deeper, many rich cultural experiences await when you step beyond the architectural items on your bucket list. You can learn about the ancient craft of gold leaf during a hands-on lesson in which you create a deeply personal souvenir. You can learn the subtle art of preparing green tea when you prepare your own cup of the local staple using traditional methods.
Meeting local people can bring you even closer to your destination. In Japan, you may head to the Hiroshima Peace Park and Memorial Museum to meet with someone who experienced the devastating effects of the Atomic bomb firsthand. You can also meet ama pearl divers, the skilled women who defied conventional gender roles to dive in the sea to harvest oysters and their pearls. Watch divers take the plunge and learn about the history and science of pearl diving.
Whether you’re ready to sit down to a plate of freshly rolled sushi, to take in the sites, or to get a deep dive into the local culture with the people who know it best, there’s plenty waiting for travelers in Japan.
Ready to see all that this country has to offer? Experience all across two tours – one Classic journey and one small group Explorations tour — with Collette.