Nihon e Yōkoso!

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Welcome to Japan! Whether you want to spend the cold winters skiing across the vast mountains, or take a stroll through the falling cherry blossoms, Japan is a country with a million things to do and a million places to see.

Taste traditional foods every city you visit; savoury pancakes (a Hiroshima delicacy, called okonomiyaki), miso ramen in Nagoya, delicious fresh caught oysters in Miyajima, traditional sushi in Tokyo and the best Kobe beef in Kobe. Almost every dish comes with a delicious sticky rice, miso soup and green tea but I recommend a Sake to wash it down. Try a traditional barbeque restaurant (called yakiniku) followed by Karaoke.

If you’re up for some excitement, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are places where dreams truly do come true. Meet all your favourite characters, take an exhilarating ride on Space Mountain and gobble down some Soy Sauce popcorn while you watch the magical Electrical Night Time Parade. Other theme parks include Osaka’s Universal Studios, complete with Harry Potter World, Nagoya’s Legoland and Spa Land and many more!

Travelling through Japan is an amazing experience in itself. Grab a 7 Day rail pass that gives you access to the Shinkansen (Bullet Trains) that goes up to a maximum speed of 320 kms per hour and watch as the infamous Mt. Fuji passes you by.ATCF 51 Travel 1

There’s plenty of wacky stuff to try to. Visit a gaming arcade and play claw machines to your heart’s content or visit an animal café, whether it be with cats, owls or bunnies! I recommend visiting an Onsen. One of Japan’s most famous activities include bathing in a natural-volcanically heated hot spring-known as Onsen. Sounds great, right? That is until you learn you must enter the public space naked. Whilst it may be daunting, it’s worth it.

The beautiful city of Hiroshima, most well-known for where the World War Two nuclear bombing occurred, is still haunted by its history but there’s a sense peace in the air. You can visit the dome; the only building that has remained standing from the bomb, ring the peace bell at the Peace Park, or visit the Hiroshima National Peace Museum and learn of the effects. Opposed to popular belief, Hiroshima is not a city plagued by lingering radiation, it’s a city flourishing with life.

Japan’s two main religions are Buddhism and Shintoism, and both live harmoniously with each other. Complete with many famous shrines and temples, you must make time to visit one – or several!

If you have the opportunity, visit a traditional Japanese home. Most have special rooms where you can’t wear any shoes, slippers or socks known as the Tatami room, Tatami is traditional Japanese flooring made of delicate woven straw.ATCF 51 Travel 3

If you ever get thirsty on your travels look no further to your left or right and you’ll find a vending machine. There’s just over 5 million nation-wide. Primarily, they are filled with hot and cold drinks, though some vending machines include the weirdest items such as mystery packages, tobacco, alcohol, surgical masks and sim-cards.

So apart from the wacky, fun and craziness Japan offers, Japan itself is a very safe and clean country. The Japanese people are truly humble souls and will always make you feel welcome. Contrary to popular belief, the air is beautiful and fresh. Every time I return to Japan the smell of Tatami instantly reminds me that I’m truly in Japan. And it’s exactly where I want to be.

Local girl Piper Tye returned from her most recent visit to Japan where she was on a Mitsui Coal Holdings scholarship and provided us with this great article. Thanks Piper, you’ve certainly convinced us to go!

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