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March Madness (Japan Edition)

By: Camey VanSant

By Sophia S

In March, I spent the first week traveling to Takayama and Fukuoka in Japan. 

Even though both places were lovely, my favorite part has got to be the bus trip up the mountain. Even though it was already spring in Tokyo, the mountains were still frozen in winter. It truly looked like one of the traditional ink paintings of mountains in Japan, with bright whites and shocks of black trees and rivers. The trip was also quite terrifying too, as the curves were sharp and you could see directly down the side of the mountains. Also, I would recommend highway buses for budget travel as the prices are quite good, but not if you want any semblance of legroom. 

Takayama is famous for being a pretty well preserved historical area in Tokyo. The hotel we stayed at was very interesting, as it was the more traditional type. You had to lock your shoes at the entrance of the hotel and from then you were barefoot or in socks as the floor was made of tatami. They also have Yukatas for you to wear in the hotel, and also to the onsens. Speaking of onsens, the hotel had an amazing outdoor onsen, and being outside in the hot spring water while snow is falling is an out of this world experience. The breakfast was also very good.

The other famous attraction we visited in Takayama was the Hida Folk Village, which showcases Edo period Japanese houses from across the Takayama area. They had buildings for all the village’s roles like fisherman, farmer, storekeeper, blacksmith etc. It was fascinating to see how pre-industrial Japanese society worked in Takayama. Also, the snow on top of the village made everything look gorgeous.

Next, I went to Fukuoka. Fukuoka is a much more modern place, and it had comparable vibes to Tokyo. However, it’s located at the very bottom of Japan on Kyushu Island. The best attraction in Fukuoka (in my opinion) has got to be Ainoshima, which is known as a cat island. Ainoshima is a small fishing port, and on that island there are more cats than humans. The buildings on the island are also in the more traditional style, with lots of gardens and beautiful flowers. All of these details made the trip there a very whimsical experience. However, transport to the island is actually a pain, especially if you’re going from the city center, since there is no direct transport. There is a ferry that comes four times a day, and the buses outside the center run about once an hour so if you can’t make it, well tough luck.

This trip was a wonderful opportunity to get to know more about different places in Japan, and experience how culture varies across Japan. I’m excited to experience more of Japan in the future!

Categories: Sophia S