Whoa…I Wanna See That! (Another Top 7)

Before I  moved to Tokyo, I made a top 7 list of the most important things I wanted to experience in Japan. I’ve managed to do a few, like checking out Harajuku fashion on a Sunday, eating kaiten sushi and cherry blossom viewing in April, (which I almost missed because of a frantic trip back home after the 3/11 earthquake.)

But…I have a problem: since coming to Japan people keep recommending places to go, or I keep reading about people’s trips on other blogs, and now I have a ridonculous list of places I really want to see! Damn you Japan, for having so many beautiful landmarks. How am I supposed to visit them all? I guess I should just make another Top 7 list and try to hit those first. Places like:


Supposedly the Hawaii of Japan, Okinawa has tropical temperatures, blue skies and bluer water. I hear there’s a laid back “Okinawa culture” that can only come from spending all your free time lying on beaches like this.

Okinawa Beach


Sounds like paradise right? As if that wasn’t enough, the universe nudged me once again in Okinawa’s direction one day when I went to an Okinawa-themed izakaya in Ueno, where I ate this deliciousness.

Soki Soba

Get in Ma Belleh!

That’s Soki Soba… I think. Anyway it’s like udon, but with big slabs of tender, tender pork in it, and it’s sooo good. If it was that drool-inducing in some izakaya in Tokyo, it should be twice as splendiferous straight from the source right?

The Izu Peninsula


The poor man’s Okinawa… just kidding. Izu has a few things Okinawa doesn’t, like being closer to where I live and therefore costing much less money to visit. OK, maybe it is the poor man’s Okinawa. Ah! I know: one thing Izu has the Okinawa doesn’t is a great view of the honorable Fuji-san. And, I admit it, I still haven’t worked up the courage to visit an onsen (hot spring) yet, but there a few good ones in Izu so that might just be the push I need.


Miyajima Floating Torii


According to the ancient Chinese Taoist philosophy, my personality primarily reflects the element of water, so maybe that’s why I love anything water-ish. Miyajima is the home of  Itsukushima shrine — a shrine that is built close to the sea and looks like it’s floating when the tide comes in. Perhaps it’s not the most reasonable place for a building in a country with such volatile nature (earthquakes and tsunamis and all that), but it makes for a beautifully fantastical image.

However, what I really want to see is the “floating” torii. I’m not sure why the image of this gigantic red gate in the water touches me the way it does, but to me it is the quintessential “Japan” image. There’s something majestic, wise and strong about that gate…even though it’s just a gate. Anyway, I really want to see it in person, and bask in its gatey-ness.


“Haikyo” refers to ruins — more specifically ruin crawling. This one’s a pretty new addition, inspired by blogs like Gakuranman and Micheal John Grist. I’ve always had a love of ruins. They should be depressing, but I just find them beautiful. I love the sense of calm, peace and finality to be found in ruins. Who knows maybe the sight of dead, dilapidated buildings with nature slowly but surely creeping back in helps me come to terms with the futility of life, helps me remember that this is just the matrix. One day I will become a ruin too, and no matter how much you gain in this earthly life, you can’t take even a speck of it with you, so it’s best to live life according to your passion, and try instead to leave something behind.

Anyway, here are a few inspiring samples of Haikyo exploration.

Gukanjima by Gakuranman

...not even if you were the last man on Earth

The Maya Hotel by Gakuranman

Stairway to Heaven?

Keishin Hospital by Micheal John Grist
I’ll go anywhere but here, because *clearly* there are zombies waiting inside. Exhibit A: the “Slow Down People” graffiti (zombies are notoriously slow).  In fact my theory is that MJG is a zombie as well, as he seems to have escaped this place “alive” and unharmed.

The Top of Mt Fuji

The climb up Mt. Fuji is a tough one, but if you time it right, and make it to the top of the mountain in time for sunrise, I hear the view makes the eight-hour (!) climb worth it. Honestly, I’m not very athletic and I’m not sure I’m going to make this one, but it does sound pretty amazing to be able to gaze down on creation from the top of a mountain like you were God him/her/itself.

Mt Fuji

Actually it looks kind of cold up there

Hokokuji Temple, Kamakura

Bamboo ForestWhen I was a kid, I used to go for walks in this big forest in my neighborhood, to be alone and release the worries of my childish life, like why all my friends had better sneakers than me, and how the boy I liked didn’t like me back. However it didn’t take long for housing developers to notice the forest too, and soon they chopped it all down to make way for more suburban sprawl, and my refuge was gone.

I want to go to Hokokuji temple to run through its famous bamboo groves, and relive even just for a little while carefree afternoons of my childhood.




Temple in Nikko

I’ve had a few people recommend Nikko, before I even moved to Japan. And, probably due to my love of water that I mentioned before, what I’m all about in Nikko are the waterfalls!

Nikko Waterfall

A pretty waterfall

Nikko Waterfall 2

And another one

Kegon falls is the most famous, probably for all the trees surrounding it. People keep suggesting that the best time to visit Nikko is in the fall, because of the beauty of the changing leaves, so that would mean I need to get out there right… about…now.

So those are my goals for the next year or so. How about you? What are some of your must-see spots in Japan?




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8 Responses to Whoa…I Wanna See That! (Another Top 7)

  1. A. says:

    Wow, those ruins look seriously cool! I must confess they might be a tad too scary for me. Somehow, modern-ish ruins always freak me out a bit – maybe because of the sense of prozximity, you know? Being able to identify with a ruin is scary in so many levels. On the other hand, medieval ruins are just drop dead gorgeous. I love visiting them and their air of solemnity and fear (but a different, less homey fear) fascinates me.

    • Amanda says:

      I think I understand what you mean about modern ruins hitting to close to home, but maybe I’m a bit more…I dunno emo than you lol. There is definitely a small part of me that would like to see the end of civilization as we know it.

  2. zoomingjapan says:

    I just noticed I’ve done all the 7 things you wanted to experience in Japan. Phew. Save! *g*

    Although you might hate me for doing this, but this is my passion, so I’m going to ramble a bit about this now. (actually a passion I never knew about until coming to Japan)
    Yes, I’m addicted. Addicted to traveling through Japan.
    I’ve been to millions of places and yet there’s still SO SO MUCH I wanna see in the future!

    I’ve not even been to some of the places you listed here. I guess that shows just how much Japan has to offer! And in my 4 years here I discovered so many “secret” places that usually no foreign tourists (and often not even the Japanese ones) know about.

    My blog is really new, so I cannot offer much there yet, but I’ve been blogging in the past 100 years about my trips in Japan in my Livejournal. Eventually I’m gonna modify and emigrate those posts into my new blog, but if you need (even more, ahem) inspiration, feel free to check out my Livejournal (easy to browse when using the “travel index“).

    I should make a list like that, too.
    Miyajima I can definitely recommend. Actually it’s quite close to where I live so I’ve been there a few times. Definitely go in April or November. Cherry blossoms and autumn colors turn this island into paradise!!!!

    I climed Mt. Fuji last year …. during a typhoon.
    Hey, I mean everybody can climb it during good weather, right? -__- *sigh*

    I have to admit that I’ve never been to Okinawa.
    People keep telling me that you’re so much better of with a car there and I don’t WANT to drive in Japan (and thus don’t have a driver’s license for here ….) *mumble*

    I also recommend Kumamoto and especially Nagasaki in Kyushu!
    As you live in Tokyo you’re quite close to Nagano. Definitely check out the snow monkeys in winter!! :)

    Okay, that’s getting too long.
    Sorry, I always get too passionate when it’s about traveling.
    Actually I just came back from another 1-day trip. ;)

    • Amanda says:

      OMG why did you climb Mt. Fuji during a typhoon lol.

      I’m really interested in these “secret places” you’re talking about. I’ll have to check out your live journal!

  3. Indi says:

    Speaking of Haikyo, I’ve been to that one in the first picture you posted! It looks like gunkanjima, the man-made island sitting in the bay of Nagasaki :) That one’s easy enough to get to through tour companies, but it sucks that it’s illegal to do what the people in the photo are doing. :( I wish the companies would let you roam around the island like that, because it’s sooooo amazing looking, but because it’s old and dangerous, only people who come on sneaky little private boats and manage to make it around the guards seem to be able to get amazing views like that.
    There’s an abandoned western style castle and a number of creepy abandoned hotels near where I live. If you climb over the gates, you can easily get into the grounds and check them out, which is really fun and immediately makes it feel like you’re in a ghost or zombie movie, haha. :)

    • Amanda says:

      Ah really! Well I’ll at least try to do the tour then. Though I do want to be the adventurer who gets to see the place in a way no one else does.

  4. A great list and some very cool things to do and see in Japan. My must see spots are Takayama in Gifu Prefecture, which lies in the ancient Hida district tucked away between the mountains of the Japan Alps.
    Nagano for the mountains, snow, onsens and skiing.
    Kurashiki in Okayama famous for the old merchant quarter called the Bikan historical area. It contains many fine examples of 17th century wooden warehouses along a canal framed with weeping willows and filled with koi.

    Japan Australia

    • zoomingjapan says:

      I’ve been to all the places you mentioned and just have to agree!
      Definitely go there if you have the chance to!
      Hida-Takayama itself is not THAT great, but the nearby Shirakawago is awesome.
      And if you go to Nagano, don’t miss the snow monkeys bathing in an onsen while you have to freeze your ars off ;P

      Kurashiki somehow reminded me a LITTLE of Italy for some reason.
      I love Okayama anyways ^___^ There’s so much to see in and around Okayama!

      I’m surprised that nobody is mentioning the whirlpools of Naruto on Shikoku.
      I really enjoyed them and if I ever get the chance, I wanna go again. Can also be easily accessed from Kobe (going via Awaji Island).

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