QuirkyAccom on Twitter
The largest directory of unusual places to stay on the planet
QuirkyAccom on Facebook
QuirkyAccom on Twitter
Search
Country
Budget
Accom Type
Subscribe by RSS | Subscribe by Email:

Support Japan - Go There!

obon Disaster struck on 11 March 2011 with the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan, off the coast of Oshika Peninsula, to the north east of the country.  As we all know this triggered a terrifying tsunami in which waves reached heights of over 40 metres caused incredible damage, flooding and fires.  Almost 20,000 people were killed.  The nuclear accidents that followed caused health fears and hundreds of thousands of residents were evacuated.  So powerful was the earthquake that it has caused a shift of the earth on its axis of between 10-25cm. 

Although many areas were considered to be safe to visit soon after the devastating event - Tokyo included - Japan further suffered from a great drop off in visitors to the country following it. By July any risks of travelling outside a 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were considered low.  But in August there was still 32% less tourism than the previous year.  The Japanese encouraged visitors back and in October the tourism agency announced hopes for a programme to offer 10,000 free return flights to foreigners in exchange for their views of post-disaster tourism in Japan.  They obviously plan to impress. If it is approved the agency will start accepting on-line applications from April 2012.

tugofwarThere are festivals throughout the year showcasing the historial, cultural, colourful and wacky things that you wont find anywhere but in Japan.   Many celebrate the Cherry Blossom season from February to April.  At the Sapporo Snow Festival in February there are huge ice sculpures in the streets, and wonderful snow slides built for children.  The Great Tug of War that occurs in various locations between August and October needs thousands of people to take part and visitors are welcome to assist in the battle to move the 40 ton rope.  In August Eisa Dance Parade sees locals from the Okinawa Prefecture performing their traditional dance accompanied by drums, with hakonemodernised adaptations joining the display. And the Obon Festival, a buddist ceremony celebrated in the summer, when floating lanterns are put into the rivers and seas in order to guide the spirits of ancestors back to their world.

For a more peaceful experience there are many shrines, temples and gardens throughout the country. Hakone offers breaktaking views of Mount Fiji reflected in the lake and the chance to relax at the hot springs centre. Japan has a great train system so don't miss the opportunity to get out and explore.  There are many things seen easily even during a brief trip.

If wanting to stay somewhere historical, a ryokan is a traditional inn. One found in Ishakawa Prefecture called Hoshi Ryokan click was previously named in the Guiness Book of Records as the oldest hotel in the world. This hotel has been run by the same family for 46 generations since its opening in 717. (Another Japanese establishment, Keiunkan Japanese Inn in Hayakawa's Nishiyama, has since been given the title for operating since 705 AD). Healing benefits are thought to be gained from bathing in the hot spring baths.

christmasIn Tokyo and Osaka and other cities, Japan creates it's own blend of vibrant activity.  If you are wanting unusual accommodation this could be heaven.  Love hotels abound where you can book imaginative themed rooms for short (from 1 hour) to overnight stays.  Many can be found in the city of Osaka. A favourite is the Hotel Chapel Christmas, but many are not so quaint with no windows and dungeon-style rooms. Alternatively you can explore your fantasies in a doctor's office, subway car or the UFO room at Hotel Loire.  You will find no stigma attached to visiting a love hotel.  In a place where space is money, many families live together in close quarters, so visiting a love hotel is necessary for privacy.

What we may find alternative is commonplace to the Japanese.  The famous9hours capsule hotels are a 'must do' for many a traveller, but are merely functional for the businessman who routinely use them. Examples on QuirkyAccom.com are 9 Hours in Kyoto click, Capsule Hotel in Osaka click, Hotel New Gyominso in Tokyo click. Or for a taste of Japanese Nippon style visit the creative hotel CLASKA click

Tokyoites love of bazaar, cute and un-nerving fancy dress and fashion can be experienced on the streets of Harajuku every Sunday.  There are always plenty of extra-ordinary things to lasso your attention. Contrasts are everywhere in this intriguing country - the old and the new, the stunning landscapes and the skyscrapers, the traditional and the quirky.

Now is the time to plan a trip to Japan - to support the economy and people and before the crowds come back, and the prices go back up! Get in the mood with a Haruki Murakami book - I loved Dance, Dance, Dance.