»Miryokuteki na hihon« or in English »fascinating Japan« is the title of this article, where most people might have asked themselves what is written there.
And the title will not deceive you! In January 2017, I was lucky enough to visit Japan for the first time – and fell in love immediately. The contrast between tradition and progress is easily perceptible and very striking. Both seem to exist side by side and unrivalledly. Even in Tōkyō, which is a megacity and forms, together with Yokohama, the biggest metropolitan area of the world, the roots and the tradition of Japan can still be felt clearly. One great example is Sensōji, a temple situated in the district of Asakusa and the oldest and most significant of Tōkyō’s large number of temples.
About three kilometres further, you arrive in Akihabara, which you might know as the ›Manga quarter‹. No traditional and richly ornamented temples can be found here. People like shiney, flashy, noisey things or things that only have the air of being electronically driven. This is not very surprising, since Akihabara is Tōkyō‘s biggest electronical neighbourhood.
Yet these contrasts cannot only be found in a large city such as Tōkyō. Because of Japan’s longish shape, a chain of islands with more than 6,000 single islands spans from the North East to the South West – and passes various climate zones.
While the vegetation in Nikkō (cover picture), which lies a bit North of Tōkyō but still quite South from Hokkaidō, is mainly characterized by conifers and deciduous trees seeming Scandinavian, three flying hours further down South one is astonished:
The Yeayama islands, lying close to Taiwan, with its biggest islands called Iriomote-jima and Ishigaki-jima, constitute the southernmost top of the Japanese archipelago. Whilst being able to admire extensive coral reefs next to Ishigaki, you will feel emerald city of Oz become real when visiting Irimote. In a beautiful world of shadows, the island consists of a subtropical rainforest, covering 90% of the area and making Iriomote shine in a luscious green – and fulfilling a lifelong dream for me.
Temples in Tōkyō, shrines in roaring forests full of cedars, the Akihabara neighbourhood full of electronics and Mangas and a muggy tropical world close to the East coast of China: This, among many other things, is Japan – seems pretty »miryokuteki«, right?
But how come I went to this unique country? Further information on that can be found here.