There are several things without which, in my opinion, it is impossible to understand the spirit of Japan. As an experienced traveler, I’d recommend getting acquainted with them during your trip.
Peace & tranquility
Oceans of natural power
Modern Japan includes 6,582 islands and island residents have a unique mentality, always knowing that they are surrounded by water. These waters have been an important source of life in Japan for centuries. Torii sacred gates are often found along the coast, marking the ocean as the territory of the kami deities. The ocean is not always calm, but in some way, understanding its power brings peace to the soul. What is vanity compared to this greatness? In Shintoism, there is a belief that water can carry away all misfortunes, with or without a ritual.
A sacred summit
The sacred mountain/volcano Mt. Fuji, or Fuji-san in Japanese, has the same majestic tranquility. To even see the mountain from afar is considered great fortune; the top of Fuji-san is often hidden by cloud. Climbing to the summit isn’t an easy path, but it’s worth all the effort - since ancient times climbing the mountain has been the 'way of purifying the soul'.
Temple & shrine contemplation
Beyond the ocean and mountains, there are other places where the special spirit of the country can be felt. Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines are good examples, but not just the famous ones of Kyoto, for example, where you will meet crowds of tourists. Head out to any province or small city and you'll find spaces where you can relax your soul under the protection of the Buddha and kami. Locals come to these modest spots to ask for divine assistance.
Japan has many public parks and traditional gardens where a visit and contemplation go hand-in-hand. A brief visit to these open spaces is fine but at the same time, would be a pity - the essence of parks and gardens here have always been about time spent in contemplation and meditation.
Soothing mind & body
Among the many iconic places of Japan, onsen hot springs occupy a special place. It's no exaggeration to say that onsen sooth both body and mind. Its true, there is a special etiquette involved in using an onsen, but it honestly, it's not that difficult to understand. For many people, like myself, onsen offer the best rest and bath combination in the world. No doubt. Particularly soothing are the rotenburo outdoor baths with beautiful views of their surroundings.
Excitement & energy
It's easy to imagine that the Japanese are only ever calm, disciplined and ordered. In fact, like most everyone else, the Japanese like to have fun, make noise, shout, sing and dance. In the evening, after a hard day, many people go to izakaya, something akin to a tavern or pub, filled with drinks and great finger foods. Visitors usually sit in groups and, yes, often shout at the tops of their voices, so neighboring tables, too, have to shout. It's strangely entertaining. Izakaya hopping is not uncommon and later in the evening heading to a bar, where the noise levels are more subdued, is popular.
Karaoke has been popular all over the world for decades now, but in Japan it holds significant appeal. Everyone sings karaoke – children, adults, even the elderly. Karaoke rooms and halls are everywhere, even hot springs. Karaoke attracts both individuals as well as groups; school groups, families and even company outings are often held in karaoke rooms.
Cosplay in Japan is not just limited to festivals and comic-style conventions. Walking the streets and you'll come across many people in character costumes. Like karaoke, dressing up in a costume and almost transforming into another person is one of the many ways of taking a break from the daily stresses of everyday life.
A festival for the future
Like many others, festivals in Japan have made a strong impression me. Everything comes together here – dressing in traditional clothing, singing, dancing, and the communal unity which is very important in Japan. Traditional songs and dances are performed festivals, reflecting a connection with generations of ancestors. With everyone taking part, there is a transfer of heritage to future generations. Perhaps it is this element that is the most appealing? Watching it live and in person, it's hard not to feel a sense of unity amongst many of the people in Japan.
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Здравствуйте!Меня зовут Елена Лисина, и я являюсь новым Партнёром Japan Travel, ответственным за русскую версию. Путешествия пока невозможны, но есть время, чтобы продумать маршрут предстоящей поездки, пользуясь богатыми материалами сообщества, отвечающим самым разным интересам! Я буду публиковать блоги с разработанными маршрутами по разной тематике, так что приглашаю всех заинтересованных .