Travel guide: Tokyo - Episode 01

Can you ever imagine Tokyo as a modest fishing village? Probably not. Like so many other cities in the world - the atmosphere that was breathed in the Edo period was quiet and very far from today's frenzy. It was only when the emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo, after 1868, that the city radically changed his identity.

Tokyo

photo credits: visa.com.au

Today Tokyo, with its 23 districts, is the largest megalopolis in the world, a conglomeration of cities, lights and colors fused together that continue to amaze visitors.

Walking around the capital is an almost otherworldly experience. From the very crowded streets, you could turn the corner and find yourself suddenly in an oasis of serenity near some shrine or Shinto temple. Or, decide to venture out shopping in stores that sell strange and wonderful things, or take the subway (or train) and reach incredible places!

In our blog, you will find many articles that focus on Tokyo neighborhoods. However, what we want to suggest to you today are those unusual, unique and extravagant activities that, for those visiting the city for the first time, could turn into unforgettable experiences!

Admire Tokyo in its vastness

Tokyo

photo credits: lonelyplanet.com

A visit to the observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, a visit to the Tokyo Skytree or the Tokyo Tower, or going to Roppongi Hills at Tokyo City View becomes necessary to enjoy a breathtaking view. The unique and incredible scenery of the city will hurt your heart because going back will be difficult, very difficult!

The Pet Cafés and the thematic Cafes

Tokyo

photo credits: ddnews.gov.in

We have already talked about thematic cafés before, enchanted places where we can become children again and dream a little. However, we talked very little about Pet Cafes. In Japan they are very popular and Tokyo is full of these cute cafes. The concept is that of a place with soft lights in which to relax, pampering an animal: cats, dogs, owls, snakes and even hedgehogs!

Compulsive shopping at Daiso!

Tokyo

photo credits: planetyze.com

Exactly, compulsive shopping. In fact, Daiso offers 5 stories of articles of all kinds and all sold only for 100 Yen! Furthermore, the biggest Daiso is located in Takeshita Street and some others are scattered all around town.

Plunge into the green in Tokyo

Tokyo

photo credits: blogdiviaggi.com

There is no shortage of beautiful parks in Tokyo. We'll talk about it in-depth in the second episode of our travel guide on Tokyo, but it is absolutely one of the things to do while walking around the city! Cherry trees in spring and momiji (Japanese red maples) will give you moments of pure relaxation in autumn, so a stop at each of the city's parks is essential. Absolutely not to be missed!

Sumo Tournaments

Tokyo

photo credits: japanistry.com

If you visit the city during tournaments (usually January, May and September) you should give yourself the experience of attending the Japanese national sport combat sessions at Ryugoku! For the Japanese, in fact, Sumo is not just about sports, but about a real unmissable form of art.

Tokyo Museums

Tokyo

photo credits: jrailpass.com

Like any self-respecting city, Tokyo also offers museums, but in this case, they take on an even more special feature because there are so many types of them. From the historic Tokyo National Museum at Ueno, to the Edo-Tokyo Museum to Ryugoku, and the Ghibli Museum for Studio Ghibli lovers or the bizarre Museum of Parasites in Meguro!

Golden Gai

photo credits: theculturetrip.com

The Golden Gai is a small area of Kabukicho in Shinjuku, famous for its network of narrow alleys that are connected by even closer passages. Along these narrow streets, there are more than 200 tiny bars, clubs and restaurants that are absolutely unique and characteristic.

Travel on the Yurikamome-line

photo credits: wow-j.com

The Yurikamome-line is the railway line whose trains are driverless and speed through the skyscrapers of the city! A must-try when the sun goes down and the city lights come on...

Izakaya

Tokyo

photo credits: jamesmagazine.it

Izakaya is a typical Japanese restaurant where food is served to accompany a vast amount of alcohol. Usually they are places frequented by colleagues from a company who, after a long day of work, give themselves a break to talk about a bit of everything.

Sashimi for breakfast at the Toyosu fish market

Tokyo

photo credits: travel.sygic.com

How many times have we eat sashimi or sushi and say "wow, this is really good and fresh!" Well... we probably still have no idea what fresh and good means!!!

Shibuya

photo credits: corriere.it

These are only 10 points we thought of, but in reality, there are really a million things to do in Tokyo. For example, you can taste everything that exists with green tea, go to an onsen, cross the Shibuya intersection, participate in Hanami, pray in a temple, admire Mount Fuji. To not forget yet, Ginza, Shinjuku, Kanagawa, Saitama, Odaiba... Tokyo is not a city, but a wonderful dream!


9 must-see cities in Japan

I always thought that making a list of the beauties of Japan was a bold venture. In fact, we are talking about a truly marvelous country, where every corner has a reason for being beautiful and every city has its importance.

photo credits: gaijinpot.com 

Despite this, however, many travelers ask us for advice on what to see, what not to miss, and we don't want to disappoint them! We will try to list 9 must-see cities, 9 essential stages to get back home with unforgettable memories.

TOKYO

photo credits: liberamenteviaggi.info 

Chaotic, elegant, electrifying, ancient, vital, to be discovered over and over again, Tokyo is a metropolis in constant evolution, the world capital of technological development. Its neighborhoods are essential destinations for those facing a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun for the first time. Here we find Shibuya with the most transited crossing in the world and the square dedicated to the famous Hachiko dog.

We cannot forget the cosmopolitan Shinjuku and Ginza, realms of shopping and luxury. We then continue on the artificial island of Odaiba with the extraordinary European reconstructions. We then move on to Asakusa which seems to turn back to the past and to tradition. Akihabara the undisputed realm of modernity and technology, Roppongi realm of entertainment. The famous Bunkyo district where the Tokyo dome is located and an area of ​​prestigious universities. To finish with Shinagawa, Tokyo's business center and the curious and extravagant Harajuku. Present and past, excesses and traditions mix in a huge city that you will want to visit all the time!

SAPPORO

giappone

photo credits: conventionsapporo.jp 

A pioneering city, Sapporo was built on the basis of a rectangular North American style street system with linearly named and numbered streets. Capital of Hokkaido and Japan's fifth-largest city, Sapporo offers numerous parks whose visit is really recommended! Also, this beautiful city is famous for its ramen, beer and the annual snow festival held in February.

KYOTO

giappone

photo credits: ilviziodellesistenza.it 

As the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto has an unparalleled charm thanks to its many Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Not to mention gardens, imperial palaces, traditional houses built entirely of wood and the Geisha district in Gion. Rich in traditions, visiting Kyoto is essential for a dip in ancient Japan capable of conquering anyone who sets foot in it!

FUKUOKA

photo credits: bbc.com 

2000 years of history for this city that rises to the north of the Kyushu coast. A dynamic and ever-expanding metropolis, Fukuoka was born from the union of two cities: the homonymous and Hakata. Today it is still possible to hear about Hakata referring to Fukuoka! The ancient temples, the marvelous beaches and the numerous shopping centers make Fukuoka an essential destination for travelers. This place is also perfect for fans of traditional yatai (outdoor food stalls) that are found every night in Nakasu and Tenjin and whose typical dish is Hakata Ramen: superlative!

OSAKA

giappone

photo credits: travelanddestinations.com 

Capital of good food, Osaka was the commercial center of Japan, preserving today its important role as a major industrial and port district. Not only that, Osaka is loved by visitors thanks to the rich nightlife it offers. Furthermore, we cannot forget the variety of street foods one can come across when strolling through the lively Doutonbori district. Moreover, it is possible to enjoy its architecture and the 16th century Osaka Castle, its symbol par excellence.

NARA

giappone

photo credits: asiancrush.com 

Here we come to the town with the greatest number of treasures dating back to the 8th century. Famous for the deer living free in the park, Nara is the cradle of Japanese art, literature and culture. Among all the wonderful temples, that of Todaiji is the most loved by visitors because it is the one that contains the Daibutsu-den the largest wooden building in the world containing the bronze statue of the Great Buddha, 15m high.

NAGASAKI

photo credits: at-nagasaki.jp 

We talked about Nagasaki for a long time in our blog and it is absolutely among the 9 cities to visit not only for the sad memory tied to the past but for all its wonders. There is a particular event that deserves our attention: the celebrations of the ancient lunar new year, now commonly called "Lantern Festival". Every year over 15,000 lanterns are lit and placed in various parts of the city, dances, exhibitions and shows of various kinds fill the heart and eyes leaving that wonderful sensation of satiety.

NAHA

photo credits: weblogtheworld.com 

The capital of Okinawa, Naha has an unusual Japan. Much more similar to tropical atmospheres, here the rhythms are relaxed and the traditions stand alone. Along the Kokusai Dori you will come across shops, restaurants, souvenir shops, cafes, lively hotels and you can also reach the Makishi market where the particular Okinawan cuisine finds its full identity.

NAGOYA

photo credits: matcha-jp.com 

The birthplace of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Nagoya embodies the economic dynamism of the Rising Sun. This city is rich in industrial museums, shopping centers and the Mei-eki, the immense railway station. The Castle, the television tower, the Atsuta Horaiken Honten and, for car enthusiasts, the Toyota Automobile Museum are just some of the tips we give you not to lose at any cost!

We stopped at 9 cities, but in reality, we could have listed 15, 20, even 25! There are so many in my heart, but to discover them you just need to follow us on this long journey. Little by little, we will really take you everywhere so get ready and run to the next stop!


Fuji-san, the sacred mountain of Japan

My heart is extremely connected to Mount Fuji (富士山). I don't know exactly why, but I know I can't stop getting thrilled when I see him.

Fuji

photo credits: animeclick.it

Spiritual beauty

Higher than 3700 meters, Mount Fuji is a perfectly symmetrical volcano. Listed among the 3 sacred mountains (三霊山) of all Japan and recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage.
This impressive wonder rises between the prefectures of Shizuoka and Yamanashi, near the Pacific Ocean coast of the island of Honshu, between Hamamatsu and Tokyo.
Mount Fuji was feared and respected since the Heian period. Being a volcano, it was considered a real divinity, so much so that it possessed a very high number of sanctuaries (the sanctuaries of Asama) and became the training ground for samurai. In 664 his climb was first performed by a monk and was forbidden to women until the ban was lifted in 1872. In fact in 1868 during the Meiji period, Lady Fanny Parkes, wife of the British ambassador, began the climb proving that the Gods would not have unleashed any revenge.

Fuji Monte Fuji

photo credits: animeclick.it, David Hsu

The 5 Lakes Region

Mount Fuji is surrounded by 5 lakes, each one of them special.
Lake Kawaguchi (河口湖) is in the center of the region and the north face of the mountain is reflected on its surface like a mirror. Lake Yamanaka (中 中 湖), the largest of the five and located on the highest point is full of shops, restaurants and quiet bed & breakfasts where you can spend the night. The small and mysterious Sai (西湖) lake is what surrounds Jukai, the forest of Aokigahara. Lake Shōji (精進 湖), the smallest of the lakes, is the one that offers the most suggestive view of the mountain. And finally, Lake Motosu (本栖湖), the deepest and least touristy, is the one whose exceptional view on the Fuji-san is represented on the 1,000 yen banknotes.
Of course, all the lakes, except the Shōji, are navigable. Indeed, it is possible to take splendid cruises that allow you to admire the lush nature and peace under the watchful eye of the Sacred Mount.

Fujisan Fujisama

photo credits: animeclick.it, Daniel Ramirez

Climbing Mount Fuji: a challenge of love!

I don't know if it ever happened to you, probably not everyone is as crazy as I am, but I have often say "for you I am ready to climb Mount Fuji"! And doing it is not so impossible after all, in fact, it is even open to children and the elderly! In the months of July and August you can reach the so-called "Fifth Station" with the Fuji Subaru bus in the early afternoon, stop in a shelter (bookable with a lot of advance) and reach the summit before dawn to see the Sun rising.
From the fifth station you can find the paths to choose to reach the top. The Kawaguchiko - Yoshida-guchi trail is the most popular and traditional one. The Gotemba-guchi path is the longest and most difficult, the Path of Fujinomiya-guchi or Mishima-guchi, the shortest but also least fascinating. And finally, the path of Subashiri-guchi that joins the eighth station with that of Yoshida-guchi. The average journey time varies between 5/8 hours of ascent and 3/4 hours of descent.

Fujiyama Fuji

photo credits: yamanashi-kankou.jp, Joe Jones

All the information to undertake this extraordinary adventure is available on the official website. I made a promise, so sooner or later I'll climb the Fujisama, and you?

Fuji san

photo credits: giapponeviaggi-miki.it


Etiquette in Japan, what to do and not to do in the land of the Rising Sun

I am deeply influenced by my love for Japan, but I am convinced that in all the countries of the world there should be rules of conduct followed by the entire population as inherent in their mind.

Giappone

photo credits: yabai.com 

The Rising Sun manages to maintain impeccable behavior within its borders. In fact, the etiquette to which it abides is the same that every tourist must (or at least should) respect. For this reason it is essential to know what is possible or should be done and not done in Japan.

Here is our guide for you:

Recycle and don't be messy!

When you walk down the street in Japan you will not find garbage bins and despite this, there will be no shadow of garbage around town. Recycling for the Japanese is very important. Separate collection is an obligation and there are special bins to which people go and throw garbage.

photo credits: green.it 

Don't gamble!

Gambling in Japan is illegal! There is only one way for fans who cannot resist betting: Pachinko.
Pachinko is practiced in special rooms where players must buy steel balls to play. They must be inserted in a sort of flipper, or in the "pachislot" which works similarly to the slot machines. If you win, you get more balls. By law the spheres cannot be exchanged for cash within the rooms in which they are distributed. They are simply changed with chips or with symbolic prizes that can then be converted into cash outside the venue itself at specific desks.

photo credits: agbnippon.com 

Take off your shoes, put on your shoes

Not only at home, but also in many restaurants and historic buildings may be required to remove shoes. So make sure you wear clean, hole-free socks! If it is midsummer and you have no socks, it is always good to have a pair with you because it is not polite to enter the house barefooted. The landlord usually supplies his guests with slippers, but these too must be removed before walking on the tatami!

Giappone

photo credits: villapola.com 

Visit temples and shrines

Calm and respect are a must. Keep to the traditions: on the outside of the temple, throw a coin in the offer box and say a short prayer. If there is the possibility of burning an incense (osenko) do it turning off the stick by waving your hand and not blowing on it. If you go inside the temple, take off your shoes and leave them on the shelves or take them with you in the little bags available and I recommend you remove the hats! Do not be distracted by letting yourself be taken by the tourist's enthusiasm, pay attention to what is allowed, photography is not always permitted.

When you go to a sanctuary instead, it is important to go to the purification fountain at the entrance, take one of the provided ladles, fill it with water and rinse your hands. Next, pour a little water into your hand and rinse your mouth by spitting out the water next to the fountain.
While entering, leave a coin in the offer box by bowing deeply twice, clap your hands as many times, bow again and pray by ringing the bell or gong (this will attract the god's attention).

Giappone

photo credits: japan-guide.com 

Dine outside the home

After the waiters have greeted you and made you sit down, you will be offered water or tea for free and the oshibori (wet towel) to clean your hands before eating. After that you can choose the dishes you want from the menu, often illustrated to help tourists who are not familiar with the Japanese language.
It is not customary to pay at the table. The meal bill is presented facing down and you will pay by going to the cashier when you are about to leave the restaurant. As you come out it is courtesy to say 「御馳走様(でした)!」which reads: "Gochisou sama (deshita)" and means “thank you for the delicious meal".

Giappone
photo credits: jellyfishhr.com 

Table manners!

As usual and one of the first rules of bon ton, after ordering, it is polite to wait until all the guests have received their course. Then, we start the meal by saying いただきます (itadakimasu) that is "I take with great respect", which well away from our "enjoy your meal". If you find yourself in a situation where everyone has not been served at the table yet, but the dish we have is consumed immediately, then we will hear dire さきにどうぞ (osaki ni dōzo, please go ahead) or we can say おさきにすみまん (osaki ni sumimasen, forgive me if I go ahead).
Never feed food on the plate, in Japan it is considered rude and wasteful.

Another very important thing is the way of using chopsticks. You should never place the chopsticks in your rice bowl vertically, it is a mode that is used exclusively at funerals! It is good to always place the chopsticks on their special support when you have to put them down and I recommend you do not pass the food from your chopsticks to the chopsticks of another diner, this is also a custom of the funerals in which the bones of the cremated body are passed on in this way.

In case you need to take food from a common plate, use the opposite ends of your chopsticks. In the picture below, you can see everything not to do with chopsticks.

Giappone

photo credits: yourmagictour.wordpress.com

Toilets

In Japan you can also find Western-style services, especially in the most recent and modern public bathrooms. They mostly have a heated seat, hand shower (equivalent to our bidet) and dryer. Each toilet usually has two discharge modes: "small" (小) and "large" (大), which differ in the amount of water used. However, toilet paper or towels are not always provided in the bathrooms, so it is always a good idea to bring kleenex and a small towel (the famous "tenugui", small towels that you always see with the Japanese and that have various uses, such as drying sweat in summer!).
In private bathrooms there are always toilet slippers to be used exclusively in the bathroom. You will then have to leave your normal slippers outside the bathroom door and wear those available.

Giappone

photo credits: leganerd.com 

Respect on public transport

On the train, metro, bus or any other public transport, it is not polite to speak loudly and it is good to keep the phones in silent mode so as not to disturb anyone.

Giappone

photo credits: getaroundjapan.jp 

Blowing your nose? Oh no !!

Blowing one's nose in public is one of the greatest lack of respect and a gesture of true rudeness because it means spreading germs! For this reason, in case of a cold (and not just that), the Japanese always wear a mask.
A curiosity: the masks do not serve only to avoid epidemics and for one's own health, but also to hide imperfections! It's a good trick, don’t you think so?

Giappone

photo credits: gogonihon.com 

No smoking

It is strictly forbidden to smoke in the street, walking and anywhere there are no smoking areas. In this way, those who do not smoke or do not tolerate smoking will not be bothered. There is a special police that constantly checks that the law is respected and fines otherwise. Strangely, however, in closed places smoking is allowed and there are not always separate smoking and non-smoking areas, unfortunately!

photo credits: tobaccoreporter.com 

To bow

There are various types of bow and each with its own meaning. If we are to greet in informal situations we bow slightly, while in the formal ones it’s required a deeper bow, especially if the person in front of us is of a higher rank. If, on the other hand, we want to thank someone, it is sufficient to slightly bow the head, but also to apologize and in this case the inclination arc varies from mild (only the head), normal (part of the trunk, up to an angle of 45°) and serious. In this case the bow is deep, kneeling with the forehead touching the floor. A beautiful illustrated guide on the perfect way to bow is made available by Tongufu.com:

Giappone

photo credits: tofugu.com 

What about these rules of behavior? I find that they are very fascinating, apart from the smoke that, since I don’t tolerate it, I would forbid it anywhere!
During your travels in the land of the Rising Sun, have you noticed something curious about ways of doing things and not common in the West? Tell us about your experience!


The Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri and the rampant euphoria

Let's return to talk about Japanese festivals and today we talk about the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri.

Every year, generally during a weekend in mid-September, the streets of Kishiwada, a small town near Osaka, are invaded by the fervor and euphoria for the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri (岸和田だんじ祭).

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

photo credits: airfrance.co.za, mainichi.jp

The celebrations originated in 1703, by the daimyō Okabe Nagayasu (部長泰). He prayed to the Shintoist gods for a bountiful harvest and this is still the meaning of the festival. However, what makes this celebration special is that it is a speed race pulling the danjiri.

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

photo credits: Justin Yoshida

Danjiri are traditional wooden structures, carved and finely decorated by skilled carpenters and local sculptors. These wagons have the form of small shrines containing the deities and, during the days of the festival, they are precisely dragged through the streets of the neighborhood. Given their weight (they can exceed 3 quintals), the festival is also considered a moment to demonstrate one's courage. In fact, these structures must be towed with only the help of ropes and at full speed!

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

photo credits: Justin Yoshida, Justin Yoshida, japan-magazine.jnto.go.jp, MJY-shogun, Justin Yoshida

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri celebrations

During the festival celebrations, there are 35 danjiri involved, each of them being pulled by a team, representing the respective district of the city. At the control of the structure, on its top, there is the daiku-gata (大工方, master craftsman) whose wild dance serves as encouragement for his team and the crowd. Given the stunts in which he engages, the master craftsman risks his life constantly, but not only this! As we can easily imagine, this festival is also dangerous for all other participants due to the danjiri's dizzying speed. The wood splinters left behind and the fact that you have to elbow your way in to follow them is a danger to the crowd. Four hours of breathless running that ends with a big drinking moment around this wagon, to which dozens of paper lanterns are hung.

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

photo credits: rove.me, Gavin Kealy

More than 500,000 visitors come to Kishiwada to experience the thrill of this celebration, what do you think? Do you find this parade electrifying?


The city of Nara and its deers, a must see destination

We continue our journey in Japan and today we move to Nara. Capital of the homonymous prefecture, the city of Nara is located in the Kansai region. Located north of the prefecture, its borders are adjacent to those of the Kyoto prefecture.

Nara

photo credits: lensonjapan, Blondinrikard Fröberg

With eight temples, ruins of past periods and the famous deers, Nara remains not only one of the most beautiful cities in Japan but also one of the most popular destinations for tourists. During the Nara period, the city was the capital of Japan and the emperor lived here before moving the headquarters to Kyoto.

The Heian period

During this period, a large source of theories was proposed for the origin of the name Nara.

Nara and The Nihon Shoki theory

The Chronicles of Japan, the second oldest book on classical Japanese history, says that the word Nara comes from narasu (to be flat, to level). According to this theory, in September of the tenth year of Emperor Sujin, some rebels climbed the Nara-yama. Here with the imperial forces, they joined together to lay down trees and plants and that is why the mountain is called Nara-yama. Being the most ancient testimony, it also has references in the folk culture. In fact, it is considerered the historical etymology by many scholars.

Nara

photo credits: x768, whity

Nara and the "flat land" theory

Designed by Kunio Yanagita in 1936, this is the most accepted theory at the moment. In fact, this proposal attests that “the topographical conformity of a relatively flat area between a mountain called Taira in eastern Japan and hae in southern Kyushu, is called naru in the Chūgoku and Shikoku region of central Japan. This word gives origin to the verb narasu and to the adverb and adjective narushi”.

Moreover, this theory is also supported by some words inserted in reference to a flat area with the name of naru and naro in many dialects . To further support this proposal, we also find the adjective narui, which is not strictly in Japanese standards, but we find it in use in the central areas of the country. The meaning of this word corresponds in fact to "kind", "gentle slopes" or "easy".

To further support this theory, Yanagita brings the fact that many of these names were written with the kanji 平 ("flat"). Obviously the fact that historically Nara was written with ideograms 平 or 平城 goes in support this theory.

photo credits: chrizyshot, pantoniades

Nara and the oaks

Another common opinion is that Nara derives from the oak ideogram (楢). Suggested by Yoshita Togo, we can find this plant called by this name since the seventh and eighth centuries. In fact, Narahara at Harima (about today's Kasai) comes from the nara tree, which could support this theory.

The name Nara borrowed from Korea

This is an almost surprising curiosity. In Korean, indeed, nara (나라) means nation, kingdom. Matsuoka Shizuo claimed that this could be a valid source for the name of the city. However, there is little or no trace of ancient Korean, and there is no evidence that this word existed in the seventh century.

Nara Nara

photo credits: Jirka MatousekRhett Sutphin

The origins

The Empress Genmei in 708 decided to move the imperial court to the new capital, Nara. Known as Heijō or Heijō-Kyō, the city was the first permanent capital of Japan until 794. Subsequently, the capital was moved to Nagaoka to force the metropolitan elites and new dynasties techniques that were spreading in the country. With the move to this city, we also have the birth of the eponymous period.

Nara Nara

photo credits: Banalities, Josemspain

The religion

The six schools of Nara Buddhism, also better known as Rukushū (六宗), were an academic sect of Buddhists. Arriving in Japan from Korea and China in the sixth and seventh centuries, they were controlled by the new government of Nara.
Due to the government's involvement in religious expansion, we find the construction of several temples in the city. One of these is the site of the Seven Great Temples of southern Nara. However, these sects aimed to become the main school of Buddhism of the Imperial House of Japan and its nobility. Because of the conformation of these temples, the schools were precisely defined as the "Six schools of southern Buddhism in Nara".

Nara

photo credits: wikipedia.it

The Temples

Having established Nara as a new capital, the temple of the Soga clan was also relocated. Emperor Shōmu ordered the construction of the Tōdai-ji temple and the largest bronze statue of Buddah.

The temples, known as the Nanto Shichi Daiji, remained spiritually important even after the capital was moved in 794. In fact, Nara received the synonym of Nanto (南都 "The capital of the south").

Nara

photo credits: wikipedia.it

Nanto Shichi Daiji

Literally "the seven great temples of the southern capital", a common historical name referring to the Buddhist temple complex located in this city.

  • Daian-ji (大安寺)
  • Gangō-ji (元興寺)
  • Hōryū-ji (法隆寺)
  • Kōfuku-ji (興福寺)
  • Saidai-ji (西大寺)
  • Tōdai-ji (東大寺)
  • Yakushi-ji (薬師寺)

Nara became a tourist city already in the Edo period. In fact, these years saw the publication of several maps for visitors to the city.

photo credits: wikipedia.it

The modern city

Despite being the capital of Japan from 710 to 794, Nara officially became a city only on February 1st, 1898. From a trading city of the Edo and Meiji period, today Nara is one of the main destinations for tourists thanks to its large number of monuments. Furthermore, in December 1998, the city became part of the protected sites recognized by UNESCO as a heritage of humanity.

deer deer Nara

photo credits: GGzeOuf, Travis, Cesar I. Martins

The park and the deer

Surely, one of the most famous destinations is the park of Nara together with its famous deers. This is a public park established in 1880, located at the foot of Mount Wakakusa. Under the control of the Prefecture of Nara, this magical place is home to over 120 sika or shika, the famous Deers of Nara.

In fact, visitors can walk through the meadows accompanied by these cute four-legged friends classified as a "natural monument" by the Ministry of Education, culture, sport, science and technology.

shika shika shika

photo credits: Alberto Ortega, japanitalybridge.com

According to the locals, this area's deer was considered sacred and ideal for a visit from one of the four gods of the Kasuga shrine, Takenomikazuchi-no-mikoto. Appearing on Mount Mikasa-yama, it is said to have been sent by Kashima (Ibaraki) riding a white deer.
These deers are still considered sacred and divine symbols of the Kasuga and Kōfuku-ji shrine. The killing of one of these was considered a capital crime and punishable by death until 1637. After the Second World War, the deer was officially stripped of its state of divinity and named "national treasure", therefore subject to all the protections of the government.

shika shika sika

sika sika

photo credits: japanitalybridge.com, coniferconifer, Bill Hails, Steffen Flor

If you pass through this city, you cannot miss the opportunity to spend time together with these magnificent creatures. It is also possible to buy special biscuits to feed the famous Nara deers. They will thank you with a bow, but be careful, the greed is around the corner, be careful not to get bitten!

video credits: japanitalybridge.com


Tokyo Disneyland Resort - 3 unforgettable days

Today we talk about the Tokyo Disneyland Resort. Walt Disney said that Disneyland would continue to grow until the imagination remained in the world. The visions of a great man have accompanied our childhood and still today give magic to millions of people. Theme parks have always been an extraordinary attraction that knows no age limits. Tokyo Disney Resort is a great alternative to Disneyland Paris, Disneyland California and Magic Kingdom in Florida.
If you are in this enchanting metropolis and have 3 days free from commitments and don't know how to spend your time, this guide will do for you!

Disneyland

photo credits: .tokyodisneyresort.jp 

The park, located in Chiba, is divided into two parts: Tokyo Disney Sea Park and Tokyo Disneyland Park. Our journey to discover this world of fantasy starts right from the first one to which we have decided to dedicate two days!

2 days at Tokyo Disney Sea Park

Divided into 7 thematic "ports", Tokyo DisneySea offers visitors numerous attractions, parades, shows, shops and restaurants.

Disneyland

photo credits: thegaijinghost.com 

Our visit starts with Mediterranean Harbor: a beautiful and faithful reconstruction of the Mediterranean Sea. Here you will have the opportunity to make an adventurous ride on the steamer or visit the romantic canals of Venice aboard the characteristic gondolas. If you are a fan of astronomy and boating, you should not miss Fortress Explorations. In fact, through the visit of the fortress, you will see exhibitions on the study of the planets, the Earth's rotation and the functioning of the instruments used onboard a galleon.

A journey from America to Australia

Disneyland

photo credits: tombricker

Moving on, we are transported to a New York of the twenties animated by new immigrants and by the New England fishing community of Cape Cod. We are at the American Waterfront equipped with an elevated railway, a traditional American Theater and a harbor among which the massive British Columbia stands out! Here we find the Tower of Terror, where guests will witness the fearful story of the tragic death of Harrison Hightower III after the theft of "Shiriki Utundu", a cursed African idol. If the thrill is not for you, you can enter the S.S. Columbia. Here you will have the chance to interact with Crush, the turtle of the Disney Pixar movie "Finding Nemo". However, the highlight is definitely Toy Story Mania. Recently built, it consists of a tour of Disney California Adventure Park and of Disney Studios in Hollywood, obviously based on Toy Story.

Disneyland

photo credits: RetroFuturism 

A 4D cinema, moored submarines, and sci-fi adventures meet in Port Discovery, inspired by the visions of Jules Verne. A space-style port where two fictitious companies arise: the "Center for Weather Control" and the "Marine Life Institute" inspired by the Disney animated film Pixar "Finding Dory".

From Agrabah to Atlantide

Disneyland

photo credits: tokyodisneyresort.jp 

Are you Indiana Jones’ fans? Have you loved his adventures and somehow imagined living them? Now it is possible to do so in the Lost River Delta whose landmark is an ancient Aztec pyramid. Thanks to a careful reproduction of an archaeological site in a tropical rainforest of Central America in the 1930s you will experience thousands of adventures with traps and cursed temples!

Tokyo Disney Resort

photo credits: tdrfan.com 

Don't you hear the music of snake charmers? It is the Arabian Coast, which unites the universe of the Disney movie "Aladdin" with the world of Agrabah and the thousand and one nights. Its atmosphere and Middle Eastern architecture are worth a stop: ready to fly on the magic carpet?

Disneyland

photo credits: findingsummersend.com 

Imagine walking around the park and suddenly having the feeling of being underwater and then finding yourself in front of King Tritone’s Palace. It's all true, it's the Mermaid Lagoon inspired by the world of The Little Mermaid! Most rides in this area are aimed at younger children.

Disneyland

photo credits: tdrexplorer.com 

Explosion? Lava? Yes, it is not a hallucination but the Mount Prometheus, an "active" volcano that is the location of Mysterious Island! We are back in the world of Jules Verne, and precisely in the lair of Captain Nemo of 20,000 leagues under the sea to face the journey to the center of the earth!

It was two days of adventure, wasn't it? Now it is the dawn of the 3rd day and our destination is Tokyo Disneyland!

1 day in Tokyo Disneyland

Just like the Disney Sea, Tokyo Disneyland is divided into as many theme areas, let the journey begin!

Tokyo Disney Resort

photo credits: tokyodisneyresort.jp 

The World Bazaar is a strictly commercial indoor area that takes us back in time. We are in a small America, a city of the 20th century where the shops and restaurants that line the streets are in Victorian style.

Tokyo Disney Resortphoto credits: tdrfan.com 

We are at Disneyland so you cannot miss an area totally dedicated to the world of the most beloved fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow White, Dumbo. But also Winnie The Pooh, The adventures of Mickey Mouse, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio, we are in Fantasyland!

Welcome to Toontown

Disneylandphoto credits: cafetricot 

Remember "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" In 1988? In the movie, "Toontown" was the city where all the cartoon characters lived. It was in this area that it was recreated in detail, in fact, you can meet them and visit their homes!

Disneyland

photo credits: disneyparks.disney.go.com 

If we pause to think of the name Tomorrowland, the image that comes to mind is that of a futuristic world. However, in this case, Tokyo Disneyland gives up a vision based on realism and instead presents science fiction themes. The rides include Space Mountain, Star Tours - The Adventures Continue and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.

The adventure continues

Disneyland

photo credits: youinjapan.net 

A park without adventure is not a park, right? So here we are in Adventureland! Here we find two distinct but complementary areas, one with a New Orleans theme and the other with a "jungle" theme. It's a kind of combination of the areas of New Orleans Square and Adventureland that are located at Disneyland Park in the USA.

Tokyo Disney Resort

photo credits: disneyparks.disney.go.com 

The Old West is always a timeless attraction and you can relive those Westernland atmospheres. Here the landscape is dominated by the Rivers of America, an artificial waterway that hosts the Mark Twain Riverboat, Tom Sawyer Island, numerous animals both true and animatronic.

Disneyland

photo credits: wikipedia.org 

The last area of the park is a small strip of land whose main attraction is Splash Mountain. Based on the characters, stories, and songs of the 1946 Disney movie "Song of the South", we find the classic ride-on logs. Initially peaceful, the excitement gradually increases, ending with a steep descent of about 15 meters. Because of its popularity, Critter Country is extremely crowded during the day.

Our 3 days at Tokyo Disney Resort have ended. What do you think of this little trip? I love theme parks, I consider them a way to cut the world out for a while and experience adventures that normally wouldn't be possible. That right wonder, that bit of adrenaline and all the romance that only the world of fairy tales can give us!


Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to forget

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two symbolic cities of Japan that remind us of the greatest mistake humanity has ever made.

The sad legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Located west of Honshū and facing the sea, Hiroshima (広島市) is the largest port city in Chugoku.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: viaggi-lowcost.info

Hiroshima

Founded by the daimyo Mōri Terumoto in 1589, Hiroshima passed into the hands of various administrations. In 1938 it became a military centre of strategic and military importance throughout the Second World War. No bombing struck the city until that tragic August 6, 1945, at 08:16:08. "Little Boy", the first atomic bomb ever used in a conflict, was launched by the United States over the city causing thousands of victims instantly. However, these increased in the months following the causes of radioactive fallout. Despite the radioactivity, the city was rebuilt in 1949 regaining its industrial importance.
The damage caused by the atomic bomb persisted in the following years and in 1955 the Hijiyama medical centre was established, where to welcome, study and treat the sick. In the early 70's the "Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission" was born to control the land and the air.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: focus.it

Although the city was razed to the ground on that tragic day, only one building resisted bringing with it the sad signs of what happened. We are talking about the Genbaku Dome (原爆ドーム, the dome of the atomic bomb). However, before the war, the palace was the seat of the ancient chamber of commerce, today it is classified world heritage by UNESCO as a testimony to the devastation of nuclear weapons.

photo credits: agrpress.it

Visit Hiroshima

What history has left us must be a warning to the future and both Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a living example. In this regard, if you plan to visit Hiroshima, one of the milestones is the Peace Park. It includes the Peace Museum and the Cenotaph of the memorial for the victims of the atomic bomb. The latter, built by the architect Kenzo Tange, lists the victims of the bomb whose epitaph reads: "May souls rest here in peace so that hell is not repeated". We cannot then forget the dome of the bomb.
For any information regarding the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum you can visit the official website in English.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: visithiroshima.net

In the city, we can find other interesting museums, such as the Hiroshima Museum of Art. Here the museum displays a vast collection of modern European art, from romanticism to impressionism. Moreover, the Hiroshima MOCA (museum of contemporary art) exhibits the works of Japanese and foreign artists after the Second World War.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: maitreyoda

The Shukkei-en garden and Hiroshima Castle

The Shukkei-en garden was built in 1620 during Shigeyasu Ueda on the orders of Asano Nagaakira, daimyo of Hiroshima han (fief). Used as a residence of the Asano family in 1940, and then given to the prefecture of Hiroshima. Located very close to the zero point of the nuclear attack, the Shukkei-en suffered extensive damage and later became a refuge for war victims. After renovations, it reopened to the public in 1951.

photo credits: thetruejapan.com

A Castle is closely connected to this wonderful garden, it's the (広島城) Hiroshima-jō also called (鯉城) Rijō literally Carp-Castle. In fact, the exterior, completely painted in black, would refer to the image of a black carp. Built in 1590, it became the residence of the lord of the feud, Mori Terumoto. Destroyed by atomic bombing, it was faithfully rebuilt in 1958.
It is currently the home of the Hiroshima history and culture museum surrounded by a public park. From the top of the castle, you can enjoy a splendid view of the port of Hiroshima and the island of Miyajima.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: fr.japantravel.com

To discover all the attractions and wonderful temples that rise in Hiroshima, you can visit the official site of the city (in English).

Nagasaki

Like Hiroshima, Nagasaki (長崎市) is today an important international trading and port centre.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: getyourguide.it

This modern town with a thriving maritime economy developed in the 11th century, expanding rapidly. In 1568 the daimyo Ōmura Sumitada converted to Christianity and made Nagasaki an international port, thus opening it to the influence of Europe. However, when the army chief Toyotomi Hideyoshi came to power, the city turned into a nightmare for Christians. In fact, on February 5, 1597, 26 people who professed the Christian religion were crucified. Christianity was banned and the kakure kirishitan (隠れキリシタン), Christians who professed their faith in great secrecy and clandestinity, spread. It was only with the Meiji Restoration in the mid-800s that religious freedom made Nagasaki the centre of Japanese Catholicism. The city became even stronger from the industrial point of view.

However, this also marked the condemnation of Nagasaki. On 9 August 1945, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, the now-famous "Operation Manhattan" by the USA was implemented. "Fat Man", the second atomic bomb, fell on the city.
Being purely an industrial zone and being the bomb less powerful than that of Hiroshima, the victims of the attack were significantly lower. In 1949 Nagasaki was quickly rebuilt and all its economic prestige recovered.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: bbc.com

Nagasaki's wounds

The symbol of the history of Christianity in Japan is the Twenty Six Martyrs Museum which commemorates the 26 martyrs killed in 1597.

photo credits: tropki.com, tripadvisor.it

Of course, as in Hiroshima, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is also a milestone in this journey. A memorial showing the city before and after the bombardment with the aim of pushing people to reflect on what truly means peace and denuclearization. Moreover, exactly in the place where the bomb broke out, stands the Peace Park.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: welcomekyushu.com, wantabi.info

At 20 km from the port, there is Gunkanjima (Hashima Island, the armoured island), the smallest most populated island in the world, or so it was until the 70s. In order to accommodate as many people as possible, the island took on the appearance of a massive battleship. Later, it was completely abandoned, becoming an example of industrial archaeology that attracts ruins enthusiasts!

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: japan-guide.com

Visit Nagasaki

If you are a fan of breathtaking city views, a must is the summit of Mount Inasa (稲佐山, Inasayama) which, with its 333 meters, is located near the centre of Nagasaki. Besides the car and the bus, you can use the cable car to fully appreciate the beauty of the surrounding nature!

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: travel.gaijinpot.com

Naturally, Japan has accustomed us to splendid corners of paradise-like gardens. In fact, in Nagasaki we find the Glover Garden. Located on the hill where Western merchants settled since 1850, it is a real museum where you can visit the buildings of the time.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: japanmeetings.org

Among the many temples, there is something that is not easy to find in Japan. We are talking about the Basilica of the Twenty-Six Holy Martyrs of Japan (日本二十六聖殉教者堂) or Ōura Church (大浦天主堂 Ōura Tenshudō). It is a Catholic church dating back to the Edo period. For many years it was the only Western-style building inscribed in Japan's National Treasury and is considered the oldest church in Japan.

Hiroshima Nagasaki

photo credits: yitubao.com

Behind the sad story that unites these two cities, there is the great strength of a Nation that has always known how to rise back up. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are historical testimonies that we wanted to remind you of and that too often are considered as distant realities, but which instead must make us reflect deeply, not to forget what happened.