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Why travel in Japan
Between modernity and tradition, Japan is a captivating destination. It has always seduced travellers in search of a change of scenery. Nevertheless, more and more actors in the tourism sector are aware of the risks of developing mass tourism.
In response, they are betting on the development of responsible tourism.Their objective is to allow people to discover the cultural and natural riches of the Empire of the Rising Sun, while promoting contact with the local population. Ultimately, sustainable tourism emphasises the importance of economic benefits for the Japanese themselves.
Away from Tokyo and Kyoto, which attract the vast majority of travellers to Japan, there are many other cultural and historical sites. Which bear strong witness to Japan’s rich history.
In addition to its UNESCO heritage sites, Japan is home to a high quality natural heritage that is often overlooked by travellers. Ecotourism enthusiasts are sure to find something they’ll like, among the country’s 34 national parks and numerous other protected areas. The aim of these parks is to preserve the country’s natural sites while allowing for their harmonious development.
Japan’s natural parks are home to a wealth of flora and fauna with very different ecosystems. Hike on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan, in Akan-Mashu Park, with its crystal clear lakes surrounded by mountains. You may see foxes and wild deers.
At the other end of the country, in the Okinawa archipelago, the scenery changes dramatically with tropical rainforests. Several islands have even been classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO because of their high biodiversity. They are home to many endemic species, some of which are highly endangered.
Some national parks, such as Ise-Shima and Yoshino-Kumano, are particularly famous for their cherry blossoms (sakura) in spring. Sakuras can be seen in many other places in Japan, including urban parks in the heart of Japanese megacities. In Shinjuku Gyoen Park, one of Tokyo’s largest parks, you can participate to Hanami. It is a real social highlight that goes way beyond the simple blooming of splendid cherry blossoms.
In Japan, you will quickly realise that the boundaries between nature, tradition and cultural heritage are sometimes blurred. For example, in Nikko National Park in the centre of Honshu, you will discover both a lush mountainous landscape and numerous shrines and temples. You can walk the many hiking trails that cross the park. During your hikes, you may be lucky enough to spot endemic wildlife, such as Japanese macaques, sika deer or black bears.
In the same vein, still on the island of Honshu, the Daisen-Oki National Park allows you to explore this magnificent mountainous region. It is also a place of Japanese mythology. Mount Daisen is revered as the mountain of the gods. The park is home to many historical sites, temples and shrines.
A responsible trip to Japan also means meeting the Japanese people. And as Japanese society is highly codified, it is essential to know how to adapt to these codes. To understand all these traditions and to avoid making mistakes, nothing is better than going to meet the people! They will explain their traditions and customs to you, which will allow you to better understand this country.
Cooking is also a very strong element of Japanese culture. Every move of the cook is meticulously planned. You will not regret attending workshops or cooking classes to try to understand the art of Japanese cuisine.
To get to know Japanese culture, we dare you to go for cultural immersion experiences. Take part in workshops on traditional Japanese flower arranging (ikebana), or on the traditional thousand-year-old tea ceremony, based in Zen. The more daring can put on a kimono and take a lesson in katana, the traditional Japanese swords.
For a successful responsible stay, choose accommodation with local people or in ryokan, traditional Japanese inns. This will be an additional opportunity to interact with Japanese people. The possibilities for traditional experiences are endless and one trip is not enough. What is certain is that all these experiences will remain in your memories of Japan for a long time.
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