Summer is the season for festivals in Japan. When a matsuri (festival) comes to your neighborhood the night resounds to the beat of taiko drums, and people put on colorful yukata (a light cotton kimono) before promenading through yatai (street stalls) where delicious treats and carnival games await. Every town has its own special matsuri, many with a very long history.
Japan is long, and mountainous, and sometimes hard to get around outside of major cities. This means that travelers understandably tend to concentrate in a few areas. Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto are all great places, but there is so much more to this country than that.
Last time, we talked about one of the most popular tourist spots in all of Japan. Up next, we have a spot that's just about unknown for anyone outside the country, and in some cases, even for someone who's always lived in Japan (despite being counted as a national treasure and so forth).
Although Hiroshima is mostly renowned for its tragic history, it also offers some refreshing little spots in and outside the city. If looking for a weekend getaway and break up your routine, Hiroshima will make for a great “city break”. Two days will enable you to cover history, culture and nature.
Kinkaku-ji, also known as Rokuon-ji (its official, but much less popular name) or as the Temple of the Golden Pavilion (a literal translation of 'Kinkaku-ji'), is probably among the most famous temples in Japan. If you've looked into Japan at all, you can probably recognise it by sight, if not by name.
At first sight, Osaka just seems like a regular metropolis with not much to offer in terms of culture. If it was not for its proximity with Kyoto, a lot of foreign visitors would even skip it just based on its notorious attractions. However, for some reason almost every foreigner I have met, whether they are just visiting or living in Japan, seem to just feel something when visiting this city.
Fireworks are a major part of the Japanese summer season with hundreds of displays held all over the country throughout July and August. Local events have a festive atmosphere, with people dressing up for the occasion in colorful yukata (a kind of light summer kimono), and buying snacks and beverages from street-side stalls.