Asia, Photography, Travel Tips

Hitchhiker’s guide to Japan. How to take the most from your trip

The towers that would make Sauron jealous

The sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, home to almost 36 million people, is best viewed from above. Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree are the best places to see the extent of Tokyo’s urban reach.

The amazing city of Tokyo is a lot like a swarm – a very colorful, vivid one – and the best place where you can observe all the dynamic and the uproar is Tokyo Tower. A 333 meters masterpiece, the second tallest structure in Japan, inspired by the design of La Tour Eiffel, a latice construction playfully painted in white and orange, in order not just to impress the eyes of the visitors, but to respect the air regulations as well. Antenna leasing and tourism are the main characteristics making it a star of the city, and over 150 million people have been here since its opening.

But you won’t only have the special opportunity of getting an entire perspective of the city shaped at one glance. Foot Town is where you’ll share your impressions about the aweinspiring panorama. It’s a four-story building that you’ll find exactly under the tower, housing museums, restaurants as well as all kinds of shops to get the souvenirs for your friends at home.

Other two special places that derive from this first one are the two-storey Main Observatory (150 tall) and the smaller Special Observatory at 250 meters height.

Tokyo Tower was originally meant to serve television broadcasting, but since it wasn’t (not at all surprisingly once you’ve seen the city panorama!) tall enough for adequate full support, another giant was built in 2012. You can’t miss Tokyo Skytree! First, literally – because it’s that huge, at 634 meters tall! – and then because it’s got one of the best restaurants you’ll find in the Japanese capital.

Not only is this place the tallest tower ever built by man, but the fusion of neofuturistic design and traditional Japanese style make it shine like the most expensive piece of jewelry on an extraordinarily beautiful woman. Sky blue and purple are the alternating colors making it glitter at night, the two patterns perfectly fitting the personality of the city, as if the piece of jewelry would also match the dazzling lady’s evening dress. From the top of the tower, on a clear day with crystal blue sky, mount Fuji can be seen in the distance, and the sunsets soothe the city with their pastel colors.

The danger is gone

Over 75,000 people died instantly when the bombs exploded, and the dome’s ruins in Hiroshima were preserved to serve as an international symbol of world peace. The meaning of such sacrileges is to keep in the national spirit not only the power of the locals who had miraculously recovered in less than 10 years, but also to remind the world of worse times.

The memorial park in Nagasaki is not as impressive at a first glance, but unrelated to its historical fortune is a peaceful, calm place to visit. Unlike Hiroshima, instead of visually reminding the visitors of dark times in history, the memorial park in Nagasaki pleeds for tranquility and peace, for understanding and thinking, for tolerance.

Fukushima is not one of the world’s most popular destinations, mainly because of the second most severe nuclear power plant accident in history, which happened during the aftermath of the ‘Great East Japan Earthquake’ in 2011. Of the 43 prefectures in Japan, Fukushima is the third largest. More than 150 km from the Pacific coast, deep into the mountainous Honshu.

There are few who know that over 90 per cent of the territory is safe visiting, and most of the people visiting Japan annually avoid this marvelous play of geographical features because of the 10 per cent of the area representing the evacuation zone. Aizu Wakamatsu for instance is a typical Japanese location, a bohemian destination for whoever loves their culture. Just like an onion, the city’s mysterious ways can be peeled with just a little patience and curiosity. The castle, right in the middle of the city built like a protective shield, has witnessed some of the most important historic changes and transformations.

Aizu Wakamatsu

On a walk from the shrine to the beach, Wakamiya Oji is going to reward you with the world’s most popular (and delightful) cherry blossoms blooming in March and April, when lots of tourists come to witness the wondrous natural grace of the landscape, as if torn from a painting.

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Itsukushima Island is, without any doubt, one of the most scenic islands, la piece de resistance of the Japanese culture ever since the misty beginnings of the national history. This diamond place was believed to have been home of the gods, reason for which centuries nobody dared to live on Miyajima (as the island is popularly known).

From all the possible attractions, Gojunto is a vermilion Pagoda with five floors from the 15th century, beautifully combining the Chinese and Japanese architectural styles. Along with the Grand Gate (in the water next to the shrine), Gojunto is one of the most photographed monument in Japan. For whoever there is a natural born photograph who can catch the quintessence for even the most photographed destinations, these two places should be one of your biggest challenges in your trip to this country.

Hitchcock’s land

On your way back from Nagasaki, only 15 km far there’s one of the world’s most magnificent and horrifying places, Hashima has become more popular. Located on the southern region, the place used to be owned by Mitsubishi since the end of the 19th century, as a center of a coal mining operation.

Over fourty years ago, the company moved all its employees off the island, leaving behind what looks like a place of horror, the perfect scenery for any climax of the steam punk movies. Although the place is quite popular because of the association with the movie, there aren’t too many tourists who dare to step on its land. And those who do live under the sensation that they have been visiting a completely fictional place, home of tragedy and damnation. We’re pretty sure that there’s at least one recently married couple out there who would love to make a photo shooting session here, and we only support their decision. The place is all worth visiting, like a theme park inspired from Hitchcock, a battleship-shaped island to scare you to death.

 

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