How to mix the old and new on a Japanese holiday

Japan is a juxtaposition of ancient and modern life. From zen gardens and Buddhist temples, to flashing neon signs and bullet trains. The culture in this magnificent country is truly unique as the old and new blend seamlessly into one another. If you’re travelling to Japan in the near future or you’re looking for inspiration for your next holiday destination, you’ll want to make the most of everything the country has to offer.

Below we’ll look at how you can get the perfect mix between ancient culture and modern living in some of Japan’s top destinations. This guide will discuss the must-see sites, best dining experiences and the perfect places to stay during your visit. Read on to learn more about this cultural, and equally futuristic nation.

Visit ancient historic sites

In order to get a feel for the culture of Japan, you absolutely must visit some of its best ancient and historical sites. Below are just some of the temples, landmarks and cities you should visit in order to experience traditional Japan.

  1. The Atsuta Shrine

The most important shrine in Japan, the Atsuta Shrine can be found in the city of Nagoya. Attracting more than five million visitors a year, this religious site dates back to the first century and is most famous for its preserved Imperial insignia.

  1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial

While technically classed as modern history, you’d be hard pushed to find someone who hasn’t heard about the horrors of the Hiroshima bombing back in 1945. The city has since been rebuilt and there has been a memorial placed at the centre of where the bomb exploded, to commemorate all those who lost their life on that fateful day.

  1. Kyoto

The city of Kyoto was unspoiled by WWII and as a result has remained relatively unchanged over the last 1000 years. For this reason, it attracts more than 10 million visitors each year. You can really get a feel for Japanese culture here as you explore the old streets and traditional architecture of the Imperial family.

  1. Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace can be found in the nation’s capital, Tokyo, and is one of the most famous landmarks there. Dating back to the 17th century this beautiful palace is surrounded by parks, walls and even a moat.

  1. The Island of Miyajima

You’ll need to take a ferry from mainland Hiroshima, but Miyajima Island is well worth a visit. Known as the Shrine Island, it is home to the Itsukushima Shrine built for the princess daughters of the wind god Susanoo. Many of the buildings here are built up out of the water and the shrine itself dates back to the eighth century.

  1. Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle was built in 1586 by Japanese warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi. At this time the castle would have been the largest and most important fortress in the country. Though it has since been rebuilt, what you see today stays true to the original building.

Experience modern life in Japan

In contrast with the ancient and historical sites, you should also visit some of the modern wonders of Japan. Again, we’ll outline a few of the must-see spots and experiences below.

  1. Akihabara

Also known as ‘Electric Town’, Akihabara is a haven for electronics and second-hand gaming stores. When it’s all lit up at night you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that it resembles the giant billboards and big lights of Times Square.

  1. Shibuya Crossing

The busiest intersection in Japan can be found in Tokyo. With as many as one thousand people crossing at any one time, you can imagine just how bustling this area of the city truly is. This is the pinnacle of modern life in a busy Japanese city and you can watch in awe as the sheer number of people pass each other almost seamlessly going about their day. It’s also been featured in many movies, including Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift.

  1. Tokaido Shinkansen

This is the name given to the high-speed ‘bullet train’ which runs between Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Travelling up to 200 kilometers per hour this is one of the most iconic feats of engineering in Japan. Despite its speed, it is famous for being extremely safe to ride.

  1. Naoshima Island

Naoshima Island is also known as ‘Art Island’ and is a remarkable hub for arts and architecture. Covered in sculptures, museums and installations you can experience the nation’s most creative forms of expression.

Experiment with cuisine

Whenever you visit a country that isn’t your own it’s always nice to try the traditional and local cuisine. It’s no secret that Japanese food is delicious, the growing popularity of sushi and other dishes across the world speaks for itself. But how you dine when in Japan can really give you a taste of the old and the new.

Of course, you should try traditional dishes such as sushi, yakitori, miso soup, tempura and ramen, but you can enjoy these in very different ways. If you don’t fancy anything too crazy, just a traditional Japanese restaurant will do. However, in true Japanese style you can also dine in some of the most eccentric and unique experiences the world has to offer. The country has everything from high-tech dining with iPads and conveyor belts, to robot run restaurants and railway themed eateries where your food arrives on a model train.

Mix up your accommodation

You can even mix the old with the new when it comes to choosing your accommodation. Why not spend a few days in an authentic Japanese inn called a Ryokans. There are plenty of these all over the country, so you won’t struggle to find one you love, but these are the perfect way to immerse yourself in the culture.

What’s more, as with the futuristic (and just plain crazy) dining experiences, there are some pretty unique places to stay in Japan too. You can stay at a Godzilla themed hotel, or a hotel in which you’re checked in solely by robots, and these are either female androids or a scary dinosaur. But if it’s relaxation you’re after there are also a number of eco-friendly hotels out there that offer quirky and tranquil stays.

Written by Sarah McCann, Blog Editor at MyBaggage.com a luggage delivery company who have helped many travelers make their trip to Japan stress-free.

Seven Things To Get Her On Her Birthday

Everyone has someone in their life they want as a girlfriend. There are lots of things that people can do in order to attract that special someone on their birthday such as buying birthday cards. People might be worried that they will have to spend lots of money in order to make this happen, but that simply isn’t the case.

Read this helpful guide about seven things to get her on her birthday.

Take Her To A Spa

Women love to be pampered. That is why it is a good idea to have a couple spa weekend on on this special day. You will be able to enjoy massages as well as relaxing in a steam room. Spas are also a great place to do some lengths in a heated pool and to enjoy a dip in a Jacuzzi.

This will make her feel extremely good and she will be very relaxed. At the end of the day, she will have a radiant glow and will have a large smile on her face.

Research lots of different spas before making the final decision. Chimes spa is a fantastic option.

Take Her For A Meal

This is one of the most tried-and-tested methods when it comes to special occasions like birthdays. Choose a restaurant that you know she will like because there is nothing worse than her not enjoying her meal. People do not need to spend lots of money in order to have a quality meal. The mood of the meal can be enhanced by wine and candlelight. A meal is a great opportunity to get to know each other better in the relaxed surroundings.

Get Her A Horse Ride

Riding a horse is something that not many people will experience in their lives. However, this can be a romantic way to spend a birthday with that special someone. The ride can be supervised so that neither one of the people fall off their horse. The ride can take place in lush fields and dipping valleys, which will give a perfect view of the sunset at the end of the day.

Get Her Tickets To A Wine Tasting

A wine tasting is a very relaxing way to spend quality time together. The quiet surroundings of the vineyard make conversation very easy. Both people will be able to sample a wide variety of different vintages and also eat some food. People do not need to know anything about wine in order to have a good time.

Get Her A Place At A Pottery Class

Enjoy a pottery class together.

Buy Some Jewellery

Buy her some jewellery that she will treasure for a long time to come.

Buy Her A Dress

Buy her a dress for the birthday celebration so that she will look spectacular whatever you decide to treat her to! Birthdays come once a year so pull out all the stops and give her the day she really deserves!