About Time: You Visited Japan in 2018By Angelica Malin
We all love spring. It really is the best time of the year, when everything in nature, from trees and ponds in parks to plants on your windowsill, bear a new beginning. It’s hard not to step outside and enjoy the sunshine. But depending, on where you are on earth, when the first spring rays of sunshine fall on us, you will experience the seasons change differently.
Although Spain and Italy are referred to as a safe summer holiday destinations, it is time to think out of the box. A trip to the Land of The Rising Sun is best enjoyed in spring. As the winter chills slowly descent, Japanese parks are bursting into new, colourful life, with the cherry blossom season finally reaching its climax. Whether you are planning a trip to Japan now, or still deciding when to visit read below to make the right holiday decisions.
Enjoy “hanami” in the heart of Tokyo – as Japan is vast from north to south, the climate will vary depending on the region you visit. The first signs of spring can usually be spotted in the southernmost parts of the country, where temperatures are higher. But rumour has it, that after Kyoto and Okinawa, the famous cherry blossom season will reach Tokyo, making tourists and locals flock to the sites awash with a white-pink “sakura snow”. One of the most popular spots for hanami (which stands for cherry blossom watching) is Shinjuku Gyoen, a former garden in the centre of Tokyo that is home to more than one thousand cherry trees of over a dozen types. Another must – visit destination is Chidorigafuchi – a historic park with a small river around it, that you can sail around on a boat. If you are up for a romantic walk, visit it during the evening when the trees are all lit up!
Travel in time to iconic Japanese cities – the Land of the Rising Sun won’t disappoint you if you want to be more adventurous about exploring natural, Japanese landscapes outside the cherry blossom spots. On the east of the Honshu island, at the backdrop of snow-capped Japanese Alps, lies Kanazawa – a place where the time has stopped. The city, that is also known as the “little Kyoto” is well – known from its preserved, ancient beauty of samurai and geisha districts and the acclaimed, 17th century complex of Kanazawa gardens, where visitors can almost breathe the history and authenticity of Japanese culture. With traditional tea- houses, picturesque ponds, and flower- viewing bridges, this iconic city remains one of the exemplary Japanese refuge places that will let you enjoy the magic of springtime.
Hike your way through stunningly landscapes – although Japan is primary deemed by many, to be the country of super tall skyscrapers, and emblematic culture, they often forget that it is also a great destination for hiking trips and countryside adventures. Every year, thousands of hikers from all over the world travel to visit Mount Fuji, but several other destinations such as Nikko mountain in the national park, or the challenging ascents of Yariga-take and (3,180m) and Hotaka-dake (3,190m) also offer networks of demanding, yet stunning hiking tracks.
Re-calibrate in ryokans – whether you want to catch up on sleep and find your zen, or just use your spring gateway to work in a serene environment, spending a few nights in a traditional Japanese inn can both inspire you and put back on track. Marlon Brando, Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Paul Sartre, all have one thing in common: they all rested at Tawaraya in Kyoto – a minimalistic refuge, with lacquered furniture, and small reading rooms. Other, slightly more popular choices tourists have made include – the Gora Kadan ryokan, and picturesque Nishimuraya Honkan.
Nurture your senses with delicious Japanese cuisine – Japan is famous for offering a supreme gourmet experience that is born from traditional Japanese recipes, passion and attention to detail. Dishes served in Michelin stars restaurants, but also those at various food stalls scattered around huge Japanese cities, are prepared according to the five washoku principles, which were invented to create a perfect balance between flavours, cooking methods and nutrients. Kyoto, the cultural centre of Japan, very much like Tokyo has everything to impress even the most sophisticated foodies, with places serving anything from kaiseki cuisine, tempura to ramen. One of the real cult classics is Chihana, a traditional Japanese restaurant that was opened in 1946 showcasing meals that easily can be classified as works of culinary art. Bonito sashimi cured with pear and citrus fruits or Chicken ball with lotus root? It’s your call!