In this section, I would like to present you some of the most remarkable and breathtaking sites of Japan. Not only will you be able to enjoy extensive pictures and video galleries but you will also read in-depth articles on theses places and their history. Embark with me for a discovery of Japan!
Wakimachi City is located in the Tokushima Prefecture in the eastern part of the Shikoku Island. Shikoku is the smallest of the four Japanese main islands and it is connected to the largest, Honshu, by the Onaruto and Akashi-Kaikyo bridges. During the Edo and Meiji eras, Wakimachi was a very prosperous city of merchants, mainly thanks to its central position in the distribution of indigo (Aizome, 藍染 め) via the Yoshino River. Practitioners of traditional Japanese martial arts are familiar with Aizome since it is the dye that is used for making items like hakama and some dogi. For non-martial art practitioners, one of the great attractions of the city is its Mainakashima neighborhood that has maintained the former residences of the Aizome merchants in their original form, in particular their udatsu that consist of two columns built on each side of the facades first floor.
Tokyo under the snow is quite a rare sight for it does not usually happen more than once or twice each year. Moreover, given the size and activity of the city, the white cover does not usually last long. This morning however, I was delighted when I woke up a saw the distinctive white cover on the roofs of the buildings across the street. A bit worried that it would not last long, I took my camera on my way to work and shot the best sights that I came across with while on my way.
Originally built in order to provide a centralized radio and TV transmission facility during the communication boom of the late 1950's, the 333 meters tall Tokyo Tower (東京タワー) was, up to very recently, the tallest free-standing framework tower in the world. It held this record until it was beaten by the new Tokyo Sky Tree when it reached its full height in 2011. Built in 1958 based on the design that French engineer Gustave Eiffel used for the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tokyo Tower topped its predecessor by 13 meters. Another distinction notable between the two sister towers is that Tokyo Tower was painted in white and orange in order to comply with air traffic regulations.
People who first travel to the Tokyo region might find difficult to believe that merely 100 km from the megalopolis lie some of the most beautiful beaches in Japan. The Izu Peninsula (Izu Hanto) is located south-west from Tokyo and it has a lot to offer in terms of scenic mountain and coastal landscapes, paradise beaches and traditional holiday resorts such as ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) and onsen (hot springs). Obviously, this makes it a destination of choice for the Tokyoite during weekends and spring or summer breaks. Apart from these considerations, the Izu peninsula has counted very little in the unfolding of Japanese history is until quite recently. When Izu finally did come into play through Shimoda, one of its most southern cities, it changed the whole country and its people forever. The events that took place there in 1854 are nothing less than Japan's first opening of the outside world after more than 200 years of Sakoku policy of isolationism. It also provoked the subsequent fall of the millenarian military regime of the Shogun, and the uncanny return of the Emperor as ruler of the country during the Meiji restoration (1868).
Enoshima Island is a small island off the eastern coast of Japan in the Sagami Bay, not far from the city of Kamakura in the Kanagawa prefecture. The island has a circumference of about four kilometers and it is linked to the main land by the 600m Enosima-ohashi Bridge which runs parallel to the Katagase-gawa River. From Kamakura, the Enoshima Dentetsu train bound westwards for Fujisawa will bring you to Katase-Enoshima station in less than half an hour while allowing you to enjoy the coastal scenery at a relatively measured pace. From Katase-Enoshima station, you will just have to walk south-west for a few minutes and cross the Enosima-ohashi Bridge.
When staying in Tokyo for a restricted amount of time, one might wish to escape the somewhat overwhelming cityscape and enjoy a bit of countryside while not necessarily spending valuable time in transports, or money in extra accommodation. The option of a day trip is therefore one to be considered but where to go when Tokyo is known to spread endlessly over miles and miles? One perfect location for such a trip is the Mount Takao. A very popular weekend destination for many Tokyoites, Mount Takao is located about 50 km east from central Tokyo within the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park near the city of Hachioji.
One thing for sure about Japan is that it isn't short of enchanting places. While most of the notable attractions are fairly well documented on the Internet and in tourist's guides, every now and then, you can unexpectedly discover one of such beautiful places. This happened to me on a Sunday evening while I was driving back from a trek near Mount Fuji. I was eager to get back to Tokyo early enough in order to avoid traffic jams but on the way, I spotted a peculiar place which inspired me to stop and take a look at. As I exited the car, I realized that I had indeed stopped in front what looked like a Shinto shrine, so I took my camera and decided to take a few pictures from the roadside. I soon figured out that this place was well worth a proper viewing.