Japan & South Korea
- Jeju Island, South Korea1 of 9
- Seoul skyline, South Korea2 of 9
- Gyeongbok Palace, South Korea3 of 9
- Temple in a Seoul park, South Korea4 of 9
- Tongdosa Temple Memorial, South Korea5 of 9
- Tsukiji Fish Market, Japan6 of 9
- Tokyo Tower, Japan7 of 9
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Japan8 of 9
- Natural scenery of Miyazaki, Japan9 of 9
Japan & South Korea
Asia brings travelers to its shores that are in search of something completely different, intent upon discovering a world which is quite simply a world away from their own. It rewards adventure seekers and cultural discoverers who feel no qualms about immersing themselves in a culture so different from what they are used to. Japan is an excellent spring board from which to dive into the Far East; a nation which performs on the world stage, benefits from its own distinct culture and yet is also extremely welcoming of Western influences, and offers a surfeit of diverse attractions, from the massive metropolis of Tokyo, to the snow covered slopes of Mount Fiji. It’s time to take another look at Asia, and prepare to jump right in.
A visit to Japan is best begun in the wild, bustling, cosmopolitan city streets of one of the world’s biggest, busiest and most beguiling capital cities, Tokyo. Tokyo is both the world’s most populous and largest metropolitan area with a population of 35 million people making it a singularly unique place to visit. This is a city both at the forefront of modernity, cutting edge technology, with a finger on the pulse of current and future trends, and yet still steeped in history; a veritable bubbling cauldron of culture. Amid the dense warren like realm of modern skyscrapers, flashing lights, and vibrantly dressed locals, be sure not to miss the more traditional sights of Senso-ji Temple, the most visited and admired in Japan, which dates back to the 7th century, as well as the wonderfully informative Tokyo National Museum which houses countless collections and works of art from all over the world, although for obvious reasons it is the vast Japanese collection which is the most impressive and where it is best to spend your time and attention. After honoring the tradition and ancient history of Japan at the National Museum, head to the Ghibli Museum for an in depth look at one of Japan’s most interesting creative exports and pop cultural developments from the mastermind behind the simply beautiful anime film Spirited Away. For something a little different visit the famous Tsukiji fish market at dawn for a taste not just of the freshest sushi you are ever likely to have, but also of an alternative and authentic Tokyo you would otherwise miss out on. For further insight into Tokyo’s alternative youth culture head to Shibuya where street fashion trends are born and worn as quickly as they disappear; here, at the forefront of trendsetting, fashion is as ephemeral as it is material.
Mizayaki offers something completely different, a world away from the intense metropolitan lifestyle of Tokyo. With its heat, humidity and proximity to the beach, this is a surfing hotspot for surfers of all abilities as well as a lush and verdant area full of great outdoor opportunities for fun and adventure, including a botanical garden, family friendly zoo and a world class golf course. The names of two of Japan’s cities are forever engraved on the world’s memory, that of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; witnesses to two of the greatest humanitarian disasters of the 20th century and tragic victims of the Atomic Bomb. Both cities have taken great pains and consideration to rebuild from the ground up, careful to both look to, respect and honor their troubled and tragic history and forge a brighter future for all. A visit to either Hiroshima or Nagasaki is no trouble-free tourist friendly day trip, but it is nevertheless inspiring, elucidating and illuminating to witness the history of them both as well as their heroic attempts to pave their own way towards the future. Visits to their respective memorials are a must, the Peace Park in Nagasaki and the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, but be sure to also spend time in the rebuilt and reconstructed parts of the cities where you can shop, eat, wander and even pray at the stunning 17th century temple in Nagasaki, Sofuku-ji or the lovingly restored and reconstructed Gokoku Shrine in Hiroshima.
From Incheon in South Korea explore the country’s metropolitan heart and capital city of Seoul. A city full of people, towering buildings, busy streets, sensational shopping opportunities, calming central parks and a fascinating and compelling history Seoul is a city not to be missed, although it is oft overlooked in the vast pantheon of Asian super-cities that there are to explore and discover. The National Museum of Korea is a great place to start your exploration, with exceptional and educational exhibits ranging from a Fine Arts Gallery and artifacts from the Paleolithic era and a brilliant Historic Gallery. Much like Japan, South Korea is exemplary in carefully balancing a fascination, even obsession with modern, contemporary living and all its technological and material accessories with a veneration and reverence for the past and tradition. Such a fine balancing act may not be immediately obvious in the ultra-modern 600 year old capital of Seoul, but the city’s ancient heart is still alive and well and can best be experienced at Bukaksan, the city’s ancient fortress from which you can admire the sprawling city below in all its panoramic glory. After braving the buzz and bustle of the city’s shopping districts and gazing up at its soaring skyscrapers, take some time out to enjoy the tranquil energy of Changdeokgung, the secret garden and be sure to get a more traditional shopping experience at centuries old Namdaemun market. Busan has the hustle and bustle of Seoul with the added benefit of a beachside location. Watch the glittering city skyline shimmer in the dark waters lapping at the shore, or alternatively come for a sunny daytrip as a way to escape city sightseeing fatigue. If you’re in further need of some serious rest and relaxation head to the ever popular Spa at Heosimcheong, which is the largest hot-spring fed spa in Asia and has a vast complex including restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and a bakery as well as the sauna, mud bath, spa and massage facilities you would expect from a world class spa destination. Beomeosa Temple is not to be missed in Busan, dating back to the 7th century this is a Buddhist temple of the highest caliber, with stunning mid-Joseon dynasty architecture on display. Experience a completely different side to South Korea in Yeosu, a serene seaside town with a stunning shoreline scattered with lush islands, the truly tranquil Hyangiram hermitage at the summit of Mount Geumosan, the green terraces of Besong Tea Plantation and Dolsan Park. Just as in the rest of South Korea, there is something here for everyone.
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