Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
Japan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, thanks, largely, to the wealth of things to see and do in the country. For budget travelers and backpackers from the West, Japan has also emerged as a very popular recently - budget travelers flock here to sample its unique culture, excellent food, and impressively cheap accommodation.
Thanks to its mix of bustling metropolises and countryside idylls, Japan is a perfect travel spot for just about anyone. Here, then, is a quick round-up of how to go about spending your time in the country...
Traveling in Japan
There are many ways in which you can travel in and around Japan. The most popular tourist attraction is the bullet train. These trains, though now in use in many countries around the world, were initially made famous in Japan. For tourists from all over the globe, the experience of traveling at speeds of about 300 kilometers per hour is one for the scrapbook. Another great thing about travel in the cities of Japan is that commuter trains have special cars reserved only for women. Especially during the rush hour, when the trains are crowded, these cars offer respite for women travelers who can travel hassle-free.
Cities in Japan
For the budget traveler in Japan, there are a number of cities that veritably scream for attention. Tokyo remains a very popular city with tourists thanks to its cosmopolitan culture and great vibrancy. This is the capital of Japan and it's a city so full of life it inevitably leaves an indelible mark on the minds of those who visit. For those who are more inclined to view the traditional aspects of Japanese culture and society, Kyoto is perhaps the city to be in, as it offers a range of memorable traditional experiences (it's also marginally cheaper than Tokyo, which always helps for those traveling with money on the mind!). Kanazawa is also a city that retains a strong sense of history and any backpacker interested in Japan through the ages would be well advised to include a stay here on their itinerary.
What to see in Kyoto?
Once you are in Kyoto, the Imperial Palace and its beautiful gardens are a must see. Quite simply, this is the stuff backpackers' dreams are made of, featuring beautiful architecture and chilled-out tranquil grounds. The ideal time to visit the gardens is during the spring when the cherry trees are in full blossom, resulting in a riot of colors that make for great photo opportunities.
Things to do in Kyoto:
Meditation is a great thing to do for the backpacker in Kyoto. Meditation is a part of Japanese culture and for those who want to experience it to the fullest, it is a must do. You can try it out in Taizo-in or Shunko-in, which have Zen meditation sessions that are free to attend. All you have to do is to make reservations well in advance.
Make it a point to visit Kyoto during the cherry blossom season. This is the time when you get to see the best of nature in Japan. For the backpacker who is intent on seeing the best sights of the country, the walk along the road known as the 'Philosopher's Path' (from Nanzen-ji to Ginkaku-ji) which abounds in cherry trees and shrines, is certainly one worth taking.
Where to stay in Kyoto?
Located close to the Imperial Palace, the Kamo River and the university, the Kyoto Globetrotters Hostel is a cheap and clean hostel for backpackers. It is a Kyoto hostel that is ideal for budget travelers because it offers the basic facilities at a very good price. Among Kyoto hostels, the Urban Hotel Kyoto often proves a popular choice thanks to its facilities and all-round comfort. This is a three-star hotel that nonetheless comes at an affordable price.