Japan, the land of the rising sun. A land that has an old and rich culture, where shrines and temples set the street scenes and where people hold on to the stories and myths of their ancestors.
I was lucky enough to spend Christmas in Japan, a country I have been wanting to visit for a long time. Large parts of what I expected Japan to look like was true: the rich culture and history of the country is visible everywhere you go. The pagoda's and shrines are absolutely beautiful to see. Not only are they still present to see, people are stll very much involved in ceremonies and services. Unfortunately all the museums were closed because of Christmas (in my opinion not the best move with so many visitors around in Tokyo), so I will have to go back one day to visit them.
Although Tokyo was beyond impressive, it also felt extremely busy, crowded and basically non-stop. Tokyo has 35 million inhabitants and is always on the move. To me, it lacked some of the feels that Japan should have to it. Luckily, we spend some days in Narita, the town just beside the airport. It is a lovely town, with old streets, shops, market stalls, a beautiful shrine and real Japanese architecture. Although it's in the shadow of the airport, the town is definitely worth a visit if you would like to interact more with Japanese culture. Interestingly, Japan felt very Japanese. In other Asian countries I have been, I feel and see the influences from the Western world often very clearly. But Japan has been able to keep their own culture very much alive. I appreciate how genuine it seemed to me, as I am a big advocate of preserving local heritage and culture.
Although most people do not speak or write in English, they are utmost friendly and respectful. I have not seen any form of vandalism, robberies or violence during my stay, which gave me a very safe and sound feeling.
I have seen only a small part of Japanese art and culture this time, but really hope to go back one day to visit Kyoto and its ancient history and also the natural wonderland of Hokkaido.
Japan, I will be back.