As a nation, Japan has been at the forefront of the technological revolution and wandering the streets of Tokyo can feel like a step into the future. In a 2012 Adobe study – Japan came top for most innovative country in the world and it’s hi-tech, modern touches make it easy to see why. In Japanese business, there has tended to be a focus towards an idiosyncratic founder who has the vision to take the company in a certain direction such as Sakichi Toyoda at Toyota. This helps to explain why companies from the aforementioned Toyota to the likes of Sony and Panasonic have had such an influence on global business.
Nowadays, touch screens in restaurants are not uncommon but these were pioneered in Japan. Even a visit to the toilet can feel like a step into an alternative reality with a myriad of options including a self-warming seat and a warm cleansing spray. These are amongst the smorgasbord of little touches that make a trip to Japan utterly unique along with the automated taxi doors and robot waiters. Yes- that’s right- Tokyo recently opened a cafe where the waiters are robots and are controlled remotely, from home, by people with disabilities. One of the joys of a 2021 tour in Japan will be the chance to see the latest developments in technology and to experience the future. We visit Akihabara which is filled with modern touches but it’s the day to day nature of just being in Japan which will give the greatest insight into the state of the innovation of this evolving nation.
If this year has been a bit too much of cold, hard reality then Japan is a great place to really change scene. The mantra that a change is a good as a rest is appropriate here with the vast uniqueness of Japanese life being an ideal antidote to the last year. Our adventure leaders will walk you through some of the key cultural differences and there’s plenty of opportunities to really immerse yourself in a separate culture. One such way is by meditation in a Buddhist class. This experience gives you the chance to clear your mind, achieve a state of zen and hopefully take the lessons of regulating your breath into your ordinary life with positive effects for your wellbeing. There’s about 90 millions Buddhists in Japan but the religion is not too pervasive in every day life. Another way of really escaping the lockdown grind is smashing a few baseballs at a batting cage, sampling sake or dressing up like Mario or Luigi and karting your way around the streets of Tokyo. You simply won’t have time to feel stressed!
Gazing out across the water whilst on Miyajima Island and seeing the Torii shrine half submerged in the water with the sounds of tame deer wandering around you or looking across the seemingly unending series of shrines in Fushimi are the sort of views that can dispel any negative feeling. One of our favourite views is from the top of the Monkey Park at Arashiyama where you can look down on Kyoto and the surrounding countryside. If you are lucky – you can get a photo with a monkey introducing the scene. Plus – there’s the classic Tokyo vistas of cityscapes and neon wonder. Our tips for this would be the Tokyo Metropolitan Government which we visit on the first day or the infamous Shibuya Crossing where you can witness the organised chaos of the intersection.
On day 11 of our 2021 Japan Tour we visit Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Centre. This museum serves as a poignant reminder of past tragedies and does put our present travails into some form of perspective. The centre is expertly designed and manages to convey a powerful message of non-proliferation alongside the sad, personal stories that are exhibited there. There are also second generation survivors of the attack who will explain their story, the impact the bombing had on their families and the city and their hopes for the future. Wandering around Hiroshima itself is a shining example of the power of human resilience. The city’s name may be synonymous with tragedy but the ambience of the place itself is far removed from the feeling of loss and sorrow. Whilst, the events clearly do cast a shadow- with the symbol of the bomb dome clearly visible – the city has recovered from this and feels a hopeful and exciting place to be. You can wander the centre at your own pace and take advantage of the excellent audio guides if you wish which illuminate the day, the aftermath and the pain felt by the city’s residents.
Perhaps – you’ve been making the same meals over the last few months and now’s the time to pick up some new skills. Not only will the variety and taste of the local cuisine inspire you to try new recipes- you can also learn a thing or two about how to prepare local food with a sushi-making class. In Japan you can also witness a Robot Show, try your hand at calligraphy, take on the arcade challenge, meet a sumo wrestler, learn how to samurai, meditate at a temple, smash some balls at a batting cage, sing your heart out at karaoke amongst a whole range of new experiences. The world may have looked a bit closed this year and dull but – once you are on a 2021 Japan tour- there’s no chance you’ll be thinking that!
Ready to explore Japan? Take a look at our tour here, or browse our other adventure travel tours. Drop us a message in the chat box below or send us an email at email@example.com to find out more!
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