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Immersive Japan: Top 4 Places You Cannot Miss

September 6, 2021

My interest in Japan started way back before my time at Heygo. Becca, a friend of mine from Frogpool (real place, thank you United Kingdom), introduced me to this world of incredible flavors, sushi bars, and Buddhist temples. Having lived in Japan (twice), her experience allowed her to interpret and evangelize Japanese culture to me.

When the opportunity finally came to plan a trip to Japan myself, I sat down with her to go through what a nice 7-10 day trip would look like. Cities, restaurants, gardens, and transportation were our main topics. I don't know about you, but I love fast trains, and Japan has plenty of them. But the trains would have to wait. Right before going to Japan, the one who shall not be named brought the world to a halt and canceled my plans.

Luckily, it wasn’t too long after COVID hit that I stumbled upon Heygo. Since then, I’ve managed to visit nearly all of the places Becca and I had talked about. I even prepared my itinerary following this map in case it sparks inspiration for in-person travel. In all my research on how to connect the dots between the places I visited on Heygo, Japan’s rail pass was clearly the one necessary component for travelers looking to explore Japan. In Becca's words “Everyone going to Japan should get it, to be honest.”

Here are the Heygo tours that helped me build my ideal Japan bucket list:

Tokyo

In Japan’s capital, Eriko took me to experience an authentic tea ceremony. I learned how to prepare a ceremonial cup of tea at home (I didn’t have matcha, but it worked great anyway) and felt so relaxed after.

What Heygoers can expect:

☑️ Visit Eriko’s favorite tea house in a beautiful Japanese garden

☑️ Experience an authentic tea ceremony from an honored guest’s point of view 

☑️ Learn how to make a cup of matcha and the significance of the ceremony

Kanagawa

Your second stop: the Hōkokuji Zen Temple. Simply fascinating. This hidden spot found in Kamakura with picturesque views is known as the Bamboo Temple. I recommend it to anyone who could use a bit of  inner peace. Hard not to feel that as you stroll through thousands of bamboo stalks, a real treat.

What Heygoers can expect:

☑️ See two types of Japanese Gardens - Bamboo garden & Dry garden 

☑️ Enjoy a cup of matcha with a breathtaking view of the bamboo grove 

☑️ Learn about cemeteries in Japan

Kyoto

I met Ken who is incredibly passionate about the history and culture of Kyoto. He took me on a tour highlighting some of Kyoto's most famous female artists, Geishas. It was stunning. The city has charming architecture and beautiful stone-paved streets along the river. We even walked the most photographed path and bridge in Kyoto.

What Heygoers can expect:

☑️ Geishas 

☑️ Learn Shinto rituals and traditions 

☑️ Visit a local holy place where Geishas pray to the God of the Performing Arts

Nara

Final stop! Nara. I discovered Japan's ancient capital, by joining Eriko on this exciting trip. Nara was the national capital of Japan from 710 to 784 and retains the atmosphere of ancient Japan. It is the ultimate destination for a walk back in time.

What Heygoers can expect:

☑️ Have a look at the interior of a traditional Japanese house 

☑️ Walk through a peaceful park surrounded by amazing Buddhist architecture 

☑️ Explore the winding streets of traditional merchant houses

If you've ever wanted to explore Japan, or like Becca miss it from the last time you did, these are must-see experiences on Heygo. All free to join and pay what you tip. And when you do make it to Japan, grab a Japan Rail Pass to connect the dots yourself.

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