When someone asks me this question, I usually answer “Why shouldn’t they”?
Figure 1 Tori (Doors) to one of the temples in Kyoto
Japan is an absolutely must-see place, not only for Nipponic fans, but for anybody who truly loves travelling and discovering something new in this world.
Especially for us Westerners I would say, the land of the rising sun is a different universe altogether.
From the ultra-technological Tokyo tower to the majestic golden temple in Kyoto, Japan is the perfect place where astonishingly new and traditional-old live, breathe and merge together.
Figure 2 A popular restaurant street in Kyoto
I have had the luck of visiting Japan recently, and on a trip that brought me from Tokyo to the western coast, I’ve visited Hakone, Kyoto, Hiroshima and the island of Miyajima.
It is hard to express my feelings in regards of it all. Tokyo is surely one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. Many things are automated, from very modern train ticket machines to computer screens in every shop and restaurant, and even toilets (not joking).
Figure 3 View of Tokyo from the Tokyo Tower
Nightlife is so vibrant in the capital that you can get lost without even noticing. Between super modern discos and classical teahouses, the possibilities are just endless. There are hundreds of Konbini (convenience stores) open 24/7 and a variety of restaurants to amaze the poshest of gourmets.
Kyoto, on the other hand, is the old capital of the empire, and its cultural heritage is beyond anything you could ever imagine. With over 1600 Buddhist temples and more than 400 Shinto shrines, the city is the best place in Japan to discover Japanese religious life and history.
Figure 4 Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) in the heart of Kyoto
Food in Kyoto is absolutely a must, too. Don’t expect it to be cheap, but if you wonder around the traditional neighbour of Gion, you’ll be able to try some of the most palatable traditional dishes of all Japan, even in company of a Geisha, if you are extremely lucky.
So why should you visit Japan? Whether you’re a tech geek or a food connoisseur, whether you are interested in Asian history or religious tales long past, Japan is the place for you.