I quite agree that this is a good Bucket list. I’ve done all but #7. I think there are probably a lot of others that could be included, but I love that she doesn’t say anything about visiting a temple in Kyoto. I think it is something that should be done, but it gives far less insight to understanding and appreciating the heart and soul of Japan than most people realize. (My middle name comes from a Buddhist monk from a major Kyoto temple, so I feel somewhat uniquely qualified to say this.) To become a Zen priest is one thing, but you don’t get much enlightenment from taking a photo of a Golden Pavilion with a thousand others being whisked through the line after paying an entrance fee – oh, sorry, a visitor’s donation. I’m much more enlightened after a dip in a remote onsen rotemburo in Yuzawa (or substitute any number of other great places).


Your first trip to Japan is bound to be a whirlwind visit as you try to pack so many things into a short period of time. Do go to Tokyo and see the white-gloved train pushers, the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, and many of the scenes depicted in anime and manga. Do go to Kyoto and see the shrines and temples that are simply amazing.

But as a country that has so much to offer, it can take years to really get to know and understand Japan, even when you live here. So if you want to take your understanding of Japan a step further, we’re here to suggest a few things you’ll want to experience in order to better understand Japanese culture: things that give you insight on what’s behind the Japanese way of thinking.

These experiences will help you understand who the Japanese people are, and why they…

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