Japan is one of my favorite countries I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. There is so much to see and do and eat and in just a few months there will be a whole lot more…the 2020 Summer Olympic Games! Here at AurTravel, we wanted to highlight some of the greatest things that Japan has to offer.
The 2020 Summer Olympics will begin on Friday, July 24 and run through Sunday, August 9. This is the second time that the summer games have been hosted in Tokyo; the first time was back in 1964. Many of the original structures that were built for those games have been revamped and will be used in the upcoming games. When I visited Japan back in 2012, I actually got to spend a few nights at the Olympic Center in Shibuya. Shibuya is a sector within Tokyo and it’s a great place to stay because it’s so centralized and close to the train stations, which can take you just about anywhere in Japan. It’s also right near Shinjuku City which is a great place to go for shopping, restaurants, and sightseeing.
Japan tends to be a front runner on a lot of new restaurants and dining experiences and they are so worth the hype. Robot restaurants and conveyor belt sushi restaurants are top tier in both taste and service. It may seem weird to some of us not to have a waiter or waitress take your order and bring out food, but it’s such a fun experience. A few other top food recommendations I would suggest you seek out would be shabu-shabu, yakiniku, bento boxes, and definitely gas station ice cream (I know it may sound strange, but I promise it will not disappoint. It was one of my favorite go-to treats while I was visiting). Japan was also one of the first countries to open up a cat café, so if you love kittens and coffee, you’ll definitely want to seek out one of these cute little shops.
I would highly suggest taking a day or two out of your itinerary to visit one of the many traditional Japanese shrines and temples. Even if you are not of the Shinto or Buddhist religion, the beauty in the architecture alone is something to marvel at. These shrines and temples are held in highest regard so the nature and energy surrounding these areas is like nothing I’ve ever experienced anywhere else. The Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is one you might recognize from pictures online; the iconic bright orange tunnel and white wolf statues at the gates are not something you’d forget. Another unforgettable shrine would be the Great Buddha in the Kanagawa Prefecture. This giant Buddha state has been designated as a national treasure and people from all over come to marvel at its beauty.
On my bucket list for my next trip to Japan, I have to visit Nara Park. Legend has it that Takemikazuchi (the god of thunder) appeared on a mountain top riding a deer and that anyone who would see a deer in this area was brought good fortune. For many years, the Nara deer were considered sacred and it was a punishable crime to disturb or hurt them in any way. The rules have become slightly less strict around the deer in this area, but because of the history with them here, the deer population have gotten very comfortable with humans in this region. There are many vendors around the shrine that will sell you rice cakes which the deer will come eat right out of the palm of your hand. Sounds like something right out of a Disney movie, doesn’t it?
Speaking of Disney, Japan sure knows how to do Disney right! It has a lot of the main stays that you would expect to find at either one of the Disney parks in the U.S., but because of the way Japanese culture and regulations work, it’s about 100 times cleaner! Make sure you check out the ticket counters the day you visit to find out which shows will be featured that day and what food you can expect from vendors.
If you’d like to try and visit Japan during the Olympic Games, but haven’t bought your tickets yet, you might still have a chance! You can actually apply for the ticket lottery up until May 28. But even if you’re not a lucky lottery winner, the Games are going to be during high tourism season for Japan. There are tons of festivals and other sporting events going on during that time for you to entertain yourself.
Japan is filled with so much culture and exciting things to discover. When you’re ready to book your Japanese adventure, give us a call at 402-891-6909 and we’ll help you plan everything down to the last detail.
Rebekah Swerczek Growing up in a small Texas town, Rebekah always had the desire to travel and discover as much of the world as possible. After high school, she took her chance. Rebekah joined a performing arts group based out of southern California called The Young Americans. She had the opportunity to perform, teach, and mentor young kids all around the world. With this group Rebekah was able to travel to 11 different countries. She also met her husband while performing with this group and eventually they settled down in Nebraska, but they still love to travel together any chance they get. So far their favorite places are Riviera Maya, Mexico and Northern Michigan, but they still have a few big ticket bucket list items they’d like to mark off their list including: New Zealand, Hawaii, and Scotland. Rebekah is also a huge animal lover and an avid Harry Potter fan.