travel

Japan: Kawaii, Samurai, and Hiroshima

There’s something about Japan that fascinates and intrigues at the same time. For a start, the Japanese culture is often perceived as sophisticated and thoughtful, compared to the more buoyant and loud Western culture. There’s a natural sense of zen that everybody associates with Japan. There’s also an idea of modernism and high tech that comes with the rumor that there are more vending machines in Japan than there are sushi restaurants.

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These vending machines don’t only sell chocolate bars or drinks, but you can actually get the weather forecast, umbrellas, and even a freshly warmed up hamburger. In short, it’s impossible not to be amazed by the diversity and the magic of the land of the rising sun. But don’t go there to discover the novelties travel books don’t talk about. Visit Japan to understand better everything you know already about the Nippon culture: The glorious past of the samurais, to embrace your kawaii side, and the dark history that led to Hiroshima.

A long military history
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If you know Shoguns as a bestselling saga, a video game or even a local restaurant – you’d be surprised to know how popular the name is for Japanese restaurant in the Western world – you probably want to join a guided tour of Japan’s cultural highlights to learn more about these military generalissimos who rule from the 12th to the 19th century in Japan. In fact, the first shoguns appeared even before the 12th Century, but as they rise to power, so did the private military force, the samurai. A tour through the cultural heritage of this period can explain a little more about these Japanese warriors. 

More than Hello Kitty
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It’s almost impossible to think of Japan without thinking of cute designs and mangas. However, there a little bit more to the kawaii culture than a pink rucksack with a smiling cat. Unfortunately, the Western culture is missing out on this cuteness overload. In Tokyo only, you can find plenty of kawaii shops, from the unmissable Disney Store which you already know, to the Nippori Fabric Town – a fashion shop that will blow your mind. You can even find themed cafés – the Panda Cafe in Agasaya, TK is a marvel of cute and sweet decor.

The scar of the 20th Century
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You’ve probably heard of Hiroshima in relation to World War 2. However, before the city was ripped apart by the unleashing of the first atomic bomb, it was a beautiful place. There is a certain eeriness to the site, nowadays, especially as you can still see standing buildings and hear the stories of survivors. Additionally, Hiroshima has actively rebuilt itself, so that you can discover an active and dynamic cosmopolitan city, with hipster eateries, music bars, and a scenic riverside scene. In fact, if there’s one lesson to learn from Hiroshima, it’s that life always wins in the end. Hiroshima is, after its tragic past, a lesson for humanity and a place of hope.

A lesson in the military codes of honors and courage, an insight in the playfulness of cute and an exploration of life after the war, Japan is a multi-sided diamond that has still a lot of reveal to the western travelers.

 

 

 

*This is a collaborative post

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6 replies »

  1. Speaking strictly about war, it seems after thousands of years of recorded human history, we’ve learned nothing. Lovely photos! Especially the very first one with the setting sun beyond. Awesome! ❤️😎

  2. We first visited Japan with a tour in 1982, before it became trendy. Our 7 days there only whet our appetite for more and we came back on our own for a month in 1985 to ride the trains and see so much more. In many places, we were the only Western faces and became a bit of a celebrity. Returning in 2009 to visit friends we had made from hosting numerous Japanese exchange students and we were able to tour like locals, looking at things through the eyes of youth. It still remains a fascinating place and we hope to visit again, with our kids in the next couple of years.

  3. I agree with the vending machines, they sell many interesting stuff and not just limited to drinks..they even have pikachu figurines vending machine!

  4. Thank you for the link to the cultural tour! I just returned from Hiroshima in June. The message of peace at the Peace Museum and Memorial is strong.

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