- DATES: Anytime
- DURATION: 5-Day Virtual Trip
- COST: Free
Day 1 Kyoto, Old World Capital of Japan
Kyoto was an original target for the atomic bomb at the end of World War II. At the insistence of Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, the city was removed from the list of targets and replaced by Nagasaki. Kyoto was also spared from heavy conventional bombing, and as such it is one of the best preserved cities in Japan.
Kyoto has one of the world’s largest collections of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
With 2,000 religious places – 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines – as well as palaces, gardens and architecture intact, there’s a lot to discover in Kyoto.
Day 2 – Mt. Fuji is a symbol of Japan
A lot of people consider hiking Mt. Fuji one of their bucket list items. You can climb in one day if you’re fit. But it’s better to spend a night in a mountain hut on the mountain (or just climb through the night) and arriving at the summit for sunrise.
- Mount Fuji is an active volcano, which most recently erupted in 1707.
- Mount Fuji is 3,776 meters or 12,389 feet high, which is high enough to cause altitude sickness.
- Mount Fuji climbing season is from 1 July to 14 September.
- For more tips on hiking to the summit, or even just a leisurely day hike, see https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6901.html
Day 3 – Take me out to the ballgame in Japan
I tell everyone, even if you don’t love the game of baseball you must go to a game in Japan if you can. The reason is the fans. Japanese baseball fans can be a crazy bunch of rabid loons, cheering wildly, singing songs with choreographed hand motions and ordering beer from “beer girls” who are running around sporting a backpack with a pony keg on their backs. Each team and their fans have very specific traditions that they uphold. For instance, in Tokyo, fans of the Yakult Swallows bring tiny umbrellas and bounce them around high in the air while singing a song in unison whenever their team scores. They also have different songs they sing for each player that comes to bat. There are a lot of songs to memorize if you are a Yakult Swallows fan!
Day 4 – Onsen = Natural hot springs
The ritual for soaking in a Japanese onsen is very specific and you don’t want to stray from tradition, lest you get banned from entry. Be sure to take a full shower beforehand and then jump right in with your birthday suit on. Here’s a full rundown on Japanese onsen etiquette.
Day 5 – Hanami in Japan
Hanami (花見) literally means “flower viewing,” however, it really refers to cherry blossoms, or sakura. Hanami encompasses not only enjoying the blooms, it’s a full experience that includes picnicking under the trees with your family and friends. Sakura come in many varieties. There are early and late blooming flowers, and they also bloom in different parts of the country at different times, depending on the weather. So hanami actually lasts a few months, not just a few weeks.