Everybody’s heading to the land of the rising sun – but are they going to the right places?
Ever wondered why, suddenly, most of the people you follow are posting their photos taken in Japan? That’s because the land of the rising sun is the latest “It” country where tourism is at its peak. It has always been a popular destination, but with more budget airlines available and with the country loosening its grip on visa regulations to welcome more guests, the once elusive Japan has finally opened its doors. For the budget traveler, every yen should count, so here are unique destinations you can go to for a minimal fee, or sometimes, even for free.
Meditate in the gardens of Happo-en (Minato, Tokyo)
Minato means “garden of eight views” has preserved the gardens from the Edo Era, maintaining its natural beauty and tranquil environment. Experience the quiet side of Japan – walk on the gardens while hearing the calming streams, watch the seasonal sakura blossoms, and watch the azaleas bloom in the summer. Learn how to make traditional Japanese tea in a tatami-filled room. You can quiet your mind and immerse in the country’s rich culture while savoring the wonders of nature. Price: Free.
For more info, check out: www.happo-en.com/english/index.html
Eat, pray and go sightseeing at the Naritasan Park
Escape the maddening Tokyo crowds and take a trip to the past in the city of Narita, located just 10 minutes away from Narita International Airport. Lined with temples and shrines with thousands of years in history, the city is a must-see destination where you don’t have to go far to experience old Japan. The Naritasan Shinshoji temple is a 165,000 meter place surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens and plum trees. It features a three-storied pagoda decorated with bright colors. A large portion of the temple remains from the original structure built in the Edo period. Price: Free.
For more info, check out: www.nrtk.jp/lang/en/index.html
Eat some ramen at Momofuku Ando
If your idea of ramen is a cup of noodles that can be made instantly within 10 minutes, a trip to this instant ramen museum would change your life completely. You’ll discover that the actual making of the said ramen is not so, well, instant. You’ll learn how to make ramen by kneading, spreading and steaming wheat flour and drying it with a flash frying method. Get to know the 5,640 flavor combinations of Cup Noodles and design your own cup. You can take your self-made ramen at home, or taste it right on the spot. Take a walk in the museum to discover over 800 packages of instant ramen, that have been existing for generations. www.instantramen-museum.jp Price: Museum admission is free of charge, just prepare to shell out 300 yen for each Cup Noodle. Price: Museum admission is free of charge, just prepare to shell out 300 yen for each Cup Noodle.
For more info, check out: www.instantramen-museum.jp
Take a selfie by the Kurobe Dam
With caution, of course. Towering at 186 meters, the Kurobe dam is Japan’s tallest, and was completed in a span of seven years. Visitors take a walk and take the long flight of stairs that lead up the concrete-covered mountain slope for an aerial view of the dam and its surroundings. Take in the breathtaking scenery on the observation deck at the top. No admission charge in the dam, but prepare to shell out 3,000 yen for the bus tickets from JR Shinano-Omachi Station.
Get tipsy and learn history at the Spring Valley Brewery Yokohama
Going to a beer museum is something you never thought would be possible, but a trip to the Yokohama Brewery will let you discover the history of beer and its complicated processes. The red brick building of the Spring Valley Brewery is one of the oldest, having been built in the Meiji era. Here you can eat at the restaurant that has delicious beer matches, and get your fill of Kirin, Japan’s number one beer. Price for the museum trip and mini seminar: Free.
For more info, check out: www.yokohamajapan.com
Photos from the websites indicated.