Modern it may be, but Japan still retains plenty of its mystical oriental charm. From the etiquette demanded in social situations, to the minimalist décor behind rice paper screens, Japanese culture is alive and well, which makes a visit to Japan a fascinating experience. Rachela Gobbato shares her recent experience with us:
After coming back from my recent travels to Japan I noticed that friends and family were asking a lot of the same questions; “How is everything after the earthquake – Did you know there was an earthquake when you were there! Did you feel it!?”, “Were a lot of places in ruins?”, “Is it safe?”.
I vivedly remember when we were traveling from Osaka to Kumano one of our tour guides Sayuri, went up to the front of the bus and thanked us all for visiting, as she continued the tears began to well up in her eyes and she said in a sweet voice,“Please be sure to go home and let Canada know we are OK”. We had only met her for a couple of days, but the hospitality and kindness that was shown made it feel like we’d known her for years.
This statement alone had made a huge impact on my trip and helped me with the right words when responding to friends and family that had expressed concerns for Japan. Earthquakes and devastation occur all over the world and to let that diminish any thoughts one may have of traveling to Japan would be a tragedy in itself. From Osaka to Hongu to Kyoto, the sites are astonishing and quite different; You can shop until you drop in the district of Dotonbori in Osaka (aka The Concrete Jungle) and then walk a few minutes to pray at a small moss temple that his been around for ages.
The modern high rises and buildings are cluttered everywhere throughout the city that at night it brings out a vast array of endless lights which carry on for miles. The Umeda Sky Building is a must-see with an escalator that climbs 173 meters high into the skies of Osaka, once you reach the top there are 360 degree views of the Concrete Jungle.
The balance between modern and traditional is quite refreshing; a 3 to 4 hour drive can get you from busy streets, sky-scrapers and flashing lights to lush, rolling hills and hundreds of temples. There is great pride in keeping with tradition in Japan. The temples are restored every 80 years and their walking grounds are immaculate. You can see Geiko’s and Maiko’s (Geishas and Geishas “in training”) walking around the Kyoto Gion District as if you have stepped right onto a movie set. The Kyoto government has strict laws enforcing residents to keep with the traditional look of their homes, all renovation plans must be approved by them before proceeding.
“Nihon wa suburashi kuni desu” – Japan is a wonderful country and I hope that many people will open their hearts to this place as it has taken a piece of mine. From the modern to the traditional, Japan is a country that sticks to it’s roots and opens their years of heritage to all visitors. Please know that Japan is OK and ready for you to explore.
Rachela Gobbato is an International Travel Consultant at our Orchard Park location in Kelowna, BC and can be reached by E-mail or calling 1-866-625-5956. For more information about Japan check out our travel guide.