ASIA

Reasons to visit and love Japan

Japanese cuisine is recognized for its cultural significance. You can find Japanese izakaya restaurants in most cities with Japanese style interiors. Simplicity, using less sauce, and focusing on the natural flavor are the key points in Japanese food.

I used to work at a Japanese owned restaurant, and we did a weekly special rice bowl with seasonal ingredients. I remember many customers calling to know what the specials are. Over time, I learned that the Japanese focus on small details, from selecting bowls and plates to placing them in front of guests. We used different seasonal ingredients in every dish. The owner also hosted a wine and beer tasting seminar every six months, so we can learn and recommend to customers.

Japan is an excellent place to experience both the city and nature. You can have a quiet and peaceful time in nature and go to unique shops and see unique fashion sense in the city. You can find breathtaking views of nature. Enjoy their food, the culture, and the unique experience you are about to have.

Here we will cover:
1. Cultural Capital of Kyoto, Japan – Places to Go
2. Amazing City, Tokyo – Places to Go
3. Best Foods in Osaka – Places to Eat
4. Breathtaking Scenery, Mount Fuji
5. Cool Winter Activities in Sapporo, Hokkaido Island
6. Spend the Summer in Okinawa

Zorhan Mokoele | TDO local expert from South Africa

WORDS BY

By Irene

​Hey guys! My name is Irene and I am Korean-American. I was born in the U.S. and raised in Seoul, Korea during my teenage years. After that, I went to a university in Las Vegas, Nevada and studied Hospitality Management. Currently, I am based in New York City. I like how I lived both in Korea and the America because I can speak more than one language and understand the difference between the two cultures. So far, I've been to a lot of countries in Asia and East Europe. My ultimate goal is to travel all around the world and experience new things.

a NYC based traveler

Where you can find the most traditional places in Japan | Kyoto
You can visit many historic places and industrial places in Kyoto as it is a former capital of Japan for over 1000 years and one of the world's most attractive cities. Let me introduce some amazing places you could visit during your stay in Kyoto.

Gion Street is the most famous geisha district where you could dress up in a Kimono and ride on a rickshaw and wander around the street. You will be surrounded by traditional wooden machiya merchant houses. During March is a perfect time to visit because there are lanterns lighting up the street and many festivals happening. If you are at the Gion Street make sure to visit these places; Shinbashi-dori, Yasaka Shrine, Hanami-koji, and Shirakawa Canal where you could find high-class restaurants maybe meet geiko or maiko on the street.

There are some quiet temples you could visit such as the Kodai-ji Temple located in Southern Higashiyama. Kodai-ji Temple has this unique bamboo grove where you won't find it anywhere else. Don't forget to see the rock garden where you could see beautiful illuminations with cherry blossom trees around you.


Tokyo | the Modern City
If you are in Tokyo, you must visit the Shibuya Crossing also called "Shibuya scramble", the busiest intersection in the world! Multidirectional pedestrian streets with eighty seconds of walk time. You could also see neuromas number of flashing advertisements on all buildings and people with a handful of shopping bags.

Visit the Tsukiji Market, the largest fish market. You will find many sushi bars that use fresh fish from the ocean every day. Try uni sandwiches, squid-ink sticky buns, tamagoyaki, dried seafood, and their famous dessert, Warabi Mochi.

One last place to visit, teamLAB Borderless Museum, the interactive digital light and sound exhibit. Walk to each room and experience the different lighting and setup. The lights are continually changing, moving, and interacting with spectators. The museum is a blend of digital art, engineering, animation, programming, and architect. You will be amazed.

The Culinary Capital of Japan | Osaka
Osaka in Japan, where you can find fresh sushi and sashimi, delicious chewy udon, deep flavored ramen, traditional takoyaki and okonomiyaki, and many other tasty food.

One of the unique food you could find in Osaka is a hotpot called Tecchiri. It is a dish made with fugu which is known as a puffer fish. Only specially trained chefs can prepare the puffer fish without touching the poison and eliminating it completely. Fugu has a delicate mild flavor that goes well with soup and vegetables.

You can find a famous roll cake place called Mon Cher's Dojima. Using Hokkaido milk, the roll cake is spongy and moist filled with soft cream. This place is famous for both locals and tourists.

Of course, you cannot forget about unagi, also known as a freshwater eel. The place called "Shibato" is known for its unagi bento box. It is carefully grilled that fills up your mouth with a crispy, tender texture. It is served with rice and soup. Moreover, the place called "Nishihara" is also known for unagi. Unlike Shibato, Nishihara prepares the eel differently. They steam the eel in between two grillings.

For good takoyaki and okonomiyaki, visit the Chuo-ku area where you can find many delicious street foods. Most okonomiyaki is made with sliced pork, cabbage, and other vegetables. Then it is topped with okonomiyaki sauce, mayo, and dried bonito flakes. Further on, takoyaki is made into a ball shape with vegetables and octopus' pieces inside. It is also topped with Takoyaki sauce, mayo, and dried bonito flakes.


Magnificent View | Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan, standing at 12,380 feet. It is an active volcano and the latest eruption was in 1707. Mount Fuji is Japan's sacred symbol where you could find many temples and shrines around that area. You are most likely to see the Fujisan if you are in Tokyo, Osaka, or Yokohama on clear days. To have a clearer and closer look of Fujisan, you should go to Fuji Five Lake region or Hakone. During the summer, it is open for climbing. You can see breathtaking views of the sky, trees, flowers, and animals if you are lucky.

Fun Winter Activities in Japan | Sapporo, Hokkaido Island
Hokkaido Island is a wonderful place to visit during the winter. There are so many things you could do.

Try hot springs, also known as 'onsen,' where you can only explore in Japan. You can find many hot springs nearby the city. Some popular places are Noboribetsu Onsen and Jozankei Onsen. You will be relaxed and warm where you won't feel the cold anymore.

If you love fishing, you should go ice fishing in Sapporo. Go to the frozen Barato River which is half an hour away from downtown Sapporo. A tent and all fishing equipment are provided upon arrival. The staff will explain everything about ice fishing. Be patient and wait for the right time!

You've once heard of Sapporo beer. Yes, it is made here in Sapporo, Hokkaido Island. Visit Sapporo Beer Museum and learn the history of the beer and how it's made. The museum was built in 1877. Not too far from the museum, you can find many sake factories. Hokkaido is a prime location for sake manufacturers as they are made in cold weather. Visit a local sake factory and learn how it is made.

Hot Summer in Okinawa
There are hundreds of beaches on Okinawa Island known for their crystal clear water with white sand. There are a lot of high-class resorts nearby with great food. The best time to travel to Okinawa is between March to October. I recommend March and April where you could avoid the crowd and enjoy the magnificent view of the ocean.