Japan has recently been recognized as the best destination in the world to visit. Here are eight reasons why it should be on everyone’s travel list for 2024.
1. Clean and Safe
Japan is renowned as one of the safest countries in the world -as well as one of the cleanest. It is difficult to even find garbage bins in public because of the way the Japanese respect their surroundings, cleaning up their own trash and taking it home. The Japanese principle of mottainai means to not be wasteful, and this is entrenched and deeply felt in their culture.
Opportunities to get out of the city and experience nature are extraordinary. Since Japanese beliefs are rooted in respect for nature, there are vast and diverse trail networks for hiking through forests and ancient villages and along coastlines, climbing mountains, cycling between islands, and diving in pristine waters. Within cities, immaculate zen gardens and hillsides draped in floral profusions delight and inspire all who visit them.
There are always new hotels opening in Tokyo, from high-end brands to high-tech robotic. For those who want to experience traditional comforts, Japan’s unique ryokans enable visitors to experience Japan’s legendary past. Overnight stays in zen temples or farm stays in rural villages enable immersion into different sides of Japanese culture and provide insight into a bygone era.
Japanese cuisine is diverse, seasonal, regional and ubiquitous, from the greatest constellation of Michelin stars to izakayas, local markets, and convenience stores, culinary treasures abound. Beyond sushi, each prefecture boasts its own wagyu beef, each region has its own ramen, and Japanese fruits are renowned for their fairytale perfection.
5. Temples, Shrines & Castles
Japan is one of those unique destinations in which ancient sites remain as living and functional spaces whose maintenance is a sacred cultural pursuit. Temples, shrines and castles with quintessentially unique architecture date back centuries and even millennia. They carry the history and spirit of a nation, and are the intrigue of the world.
6. Sumo and Sports
Sumo wrestling is Japan’s national sport, but it is more than a sport; it is full of Shinto rituals that fascinate visitors enamoured by the spectacle. Judo, kyūdō (Japanese archery), karate, aikido, and kendo (the way of the sword) are all Japanese martial arts that attract visitors to watch or even find a dojo in which to learn. Baseball is Japan’s most popular sport for both spectating and participating. You haven’t been to a baseball game until you’ve been to one in Japan!
Art is an intrinsic part of Japanese culture, and there are ample opportunities for visitors to not only visit the innumerable art galleries (from traditional to avant garde) but also to participate in crafts such as ikebana (flower arranging), pottery, woodblock printing, origami, folding fan making, green tea workshops, and even kogatana (small blade) swordsmithing. These cultural activities are highly enriching and make great souvenirs to bring home.
Public transportation across Japan is the envy of the world. Trains depart on time. They are clean, comfortable and efficient. The shinkansen (bullet train) can whisk you from one end of the country to the other in the blink of an eye, and the number of trains departing each day between major cities accommodates every schedule. Rail passes make it easy, and signage is in English, so commuting by train is an effortless part of any travel itinerary.