Modern simplicity fused with ancient traditions… Japan is timeless

I had the opportunity to travel with last month with not only my hubby but all of our parents.  We spent 14 days cruising around Japan, with a quick day trip to Busan South Korea, on the Azamara Quest and thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

The weather was outstanding while we were there but we’ll ask for your good thoughts and prayers as the people of Japan recover from the effects of typhoon Hagibis that recently hit the country.


Enjoy learning about this interesting country!


Where to start?  There is so much to share that I’ve struggled to sort through all the experiences and sites to sum up what we enjoyed the most.


Some of the things that we found most interesting:


  • Over 70% of the country is uninhabited and it’s easy to find green spaces. The population is really centred in the coastal cities.  The mountains are beautiful with waterfalls, rivers and dense forests if you prefer more rural exploring.


  • If you want to escape the urban jungle while in the city, tranquil gardens abound. Most incorporate statuesque shrines and castles that remain from the Edo era.


  • In the northern part of the country, snowfall is very heavy in the winter months and skiing is a popular sport. One of our favourite spots was the Shirakawa-go houses in Gokayama.  The roofs are a metre thick to protect the homes from the winter snow.  The UNESCO site is quiet and beautiful where residents continue to live very simply.


  • As populated as Tokyo is, traffic is orderly and the people are friendly and helpful. It’s not chaotic as some might expect in such a densely populated area.


  • The Japanese enjoy many hot springs and heading to the country for the weekend is a popular activity. For as modest as these people are however, don’t visit a public hot springs pool with a bathing suit.  They enjoy the warm waters in the buff J  You’ll likely be laughed at if you walk in with a suit on.


  • Have you ever heard of the Toto toilet? If you haven’t, you may need to have a lesson-  public washrooms have never been so civilized!  Ask me for more details


  • The Japanese spent a number of decades with an isolationist policy which may account for their innovative nature as they had to rely on their own people. Their trains and roadways are testament to their organized systems.


  • The Japanese may be more apologetic than Canadians! The people are lovely and humble and we thoroughly enjoyed learning more about their customs and culture.


  • Visiting Nagasaki and the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park was humbling and sombre but an incredible lesson in the resilience of the Japanese. Their desire to teach the world that the tragedy of these kinds of events should never again happen was inspiring.


  • Christian weddings are popular with young people even though most of the country identifies as being Shinto or Buddhist.


  • Sweet potatoes are a popular crop in southern Japan. Of course, Japan is famous for rice fields but sweet potatoes are also a top producing crop.  If you’re looking for a traditional alcoholic drink, most know about Saki (made from rice) but Shuchu is like whisky and made from sweet potatoes .


  • Very little English is spoken in Japan so it’s a good idea to book tours if you want to learn about the history of this traditional country.


The 2020 summer Olympics are being held in Tokyo and the country is preparing.  I know we’ll be paying special attention next summer!  And, if you think a visit is in your future, talk to us about it and we’ll help you plan the best itinerary to suit your style.

-Tracy and the Inspired Vacations Team