Urban Fishing in Japan

I rarely meet people who are not interested in fishing. Everyone I meet usually likes fishing or wants to try it. There is a thrill in catching a fish no matter how small it is. It is all about how much bait you put, how well you place it, and the way you cast it. You must put enough bait to cover the hook but not too much that it would just fall when the fish tries to bite it when it is casted into the water. You should always make sure that when you put the bait that it is locked well on the hook for a higher possibility of getting a good catch or even a catch at all. You can use different kinds of baits but it would be best to use prawns, worms, or doe; all these work very well. Japan is full of different water bodies where you are more or less assured a catch because of the biodiversity of the aquatic species in this country. Examples of these rivers would be the Sumida and Tamagawa rivers or the Ichigaya fish centre where you can fish a pool. Many tourists and locals always catch so many kilos of fishes. In the center, you would find many kois and other fishes. It is funny because sometimes you catch the most odd things like a shoe, a sock, or even trash; this one times though I had an experience where I caught a crab on my line. It is really too amazing how many species of fishes that can be located in japan and they all look so beautiful. There are some I have seen where I would even bring home because it looks too good to eat. Some fishes though are really nor just edible because they can be very hard. Fishing may take a lot of patience but it is definitely worth the wait always and just very relaxing. There are some people that do it the whole day and some that do it as bonding with their sons or grandsons. I recommend everyone to go out there and try fishing whenever they can because they will be surprised at how much they could enjoy it. While this is the main feature of the area, other cities like Tokyo and Kyoto have certain things to offer as well. Tokyo for example is the central hub of technology and is known as the city of lights in Japan while Kyoto is the geisha area, which are not to be confused with Comfort Women or Korean Comfort women.

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Shower climbing in Japan

For the adventure seekers out there, shower climbing would be amazing in the summer for you. I’m sure it is the first time you would probably be hearing about this but I promise you, it is very interesting. From the name, you would know already that this has something to do with rock climbing and flowing water just like a shower. This is another kind of rock climbing for sure because you have the hardship of climbing the mountain but imagine water flowing on you while you are doing so. I’m sure you are wondering won’t I be washed out by the current? The current is not strong enough to do that and they choose a path that has already been taken and safe for the people that want to try this. They also ensure that before you embark on this journey that the current would not be strong or it would be unfit to do shower climbing for that day. You will also be given rock climbing gear and ropes for protecting that will guide you in case anything might go wrong which makes it safe because no matter what happens you will be hanging on a rope.

I would suggest that whoever tries this would try normal rock climbing to get the hang of it first a few times because many assume that rock climbing is easy but it takes a lot of core muscle, grip, and endurance to stay on. Always make sure to use the right gear like a helmet so your adventure won’t be a bad one but one that you can remember forever with whomever you are sharing this experience with. Succeeding in completing this hike would be such an achievement to anyone who does it. Who can say that they climbed a route in the mountain while they were being showered with a current but they never chose to give and finished it? This is definitely one for the books and something you can tell to your kids and grandchildren. I advice anyone to go out there and take this challenge not just to prove something to yourself but to be able to try something new and unusual.

Ōkunoshima

As a westerner, reading about Japan, watching videos about Japan and heck, even actually visiting Japan, can induce a form of cultre shock. There are meany reasons for this, however more modernly these cultural surprises would likely relate to the Japanese having made reality of concepts that seem utterly absurd to others. Okunoshima is one of those things that may seem too unreal to be true.

Modern Japanese culture has a strong part of it dedicated to animals, and subsequently, cute and cuddly things, often represented in art and entertainment such as anime and manga. Many of us would have had a pet as a child, often in the form of a dog, cat, hamster, rabbit or some other cute mammal. Many of us would have thought how amazing it would be to have a whole island filled with these cute creatures – and that’s exactly what Okunoshima is.

Okunoshima is often referred to as “Rabbit Island” nowadays. Rightfully so, as the island is mainly inhabited by a very large number of freely roaming rabbits. These rabbits are, by definition, feral, but in reality rather tame and will often approach humans, especially if they sense food. There are businesses on the island that make their revenue by simply selling rabbit food for the visitors to use and, sometimes, quite literally get swamped by rabbits with.

Two tourists sit and feed hundreds of rabbits at Okunoshima Island

Of course, hundreds of rabbits don’t just simply spawn out of nowhere, and the reason the bunnies inhabit the island in the first place isn’t quite as cute or innocent as one might hope. The island served as a testing site for chemical weaponry and such in the early 1900s with rabbits being used a test subjects. Once the testing was banned and stopped, the rabbits remained and quickly multiplied, like, well, rabbits.

Aside from being a tourist attraction due to the rabbits present, the island has its own hotel, golf course, camp-site, clear water swimming spots and is home to the Poison Gas Museum in remembrance of the island’s horrid past and the damages inflicted by the weapons secretly developed on the island in the time prior to the 1925 Geneva Convention which banned the use of chemical warfare.

 

Image by theguardian.com

Take the Narrow Road to the Deep North

There’s just something about watching a movie or reading a story featuring a scenic location in all its glory and then one day visiting that location yourself. Surely one has heard of the stories of people traveling all the way to New Zealand in order to stand on the same mountains wherein the filming of the famous Lord of the Rings trilogy occurred.

Given the prolific nature of Japan’s outdoors, many such opportunities to visit places detailed in stories exist. Many local forms of entertainment revolve around specific landmarks and places, whether they may be a temple from a movie or a small town featured in an anime.

One location that would put quite many others to shame is the Narrow Road To The Deep North – which is, of course, not the actual name of any particular place. Instead, Narrow Road To The Deep North is the name of one of the most important and famous pieces of Japanese literature – it is the title of the world’s most famous collection of Haiku poetry, written by none other than Matsuo Basho. The work is a travelogue, detailing his his journey through the rural and remote areas of Japan’s north-western region, Tohoku.

In the stories told, Basho decided to travel to those rural lands of Tohoku, well aware of the dangers he would face there, a land filled with farmers and bandits. It is said that he didn’t even expect to make it home alive and decided to sell his house and prepare a will prior to embarking on his journey. Accompanying him was a fellow poet by the name of Sora, who created a more factual recount of their travels, allowing us today to know which route they took.

Those with a taste for outdoor adventure can, fairly easily nowadays, make their way to the aforementioned part of Japan and see the places which inspired one of the most significant and of most impact works of Japanese art to date. However, there is much preparation to be done in order to tackle this journey and see all of its 43 stages. Regardless, undertaking such an adventure is said to be very rewarding and allows people to see Japan in a light that almost no other visitor is ever treated to. It is also recommended that the journey is done in summer and over a month’s worth of time is invested, as modern transport is sparse in the far north of Japan and weather conditions do play a significant part.

First image by japan-guide.com

Second image by platial.typepad.com

Partake in the Shikoku Pilgrimage

While being one of the most naturally diverse countries in the world in terms of the great outdoors, it is fairly linear in terms of religious culture with Buddhism being the dominant school of belief throughout the Land of the Rising Sun. Those visitors culturally inclined however, may wish to explore Japan in one of the most culturally intimate ways – by experiencing the Shikoku Pilgrimage. The Pilgrimage is practised by Buddhist monks who visit 88 temples along their journey.

One does not have to be religious to partake in the Shikoku Pilgrimage, just willing. The Pilgrimage is definitely not for the faint of heart – traditionally the pilgrimage covers a distance of over 1,200 kilometres, a distance the monks covered on foot. This could take anywhere from one to two months depending on extent of the pilgrimage. Officially, there are 88 temples to stop by during the trip, however there are even more potential, optional, stops along the way that one might pay a visit to.

Of course, in modern times, things are not quite as they were historically, making the trip a viable journey for visitors who do not have one or two months of their lives to dedicate to such a strenuous journey. Nowadays, the pilgrims avail of all modes of transportation to reach the destinations of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. The first stop along the trip is normally the Koya Mountain in the Wakayama Prefecture. There is much history behind the pilgrimage, with each stop along the journey representing values significant to the practitioners of Buddhism. The first 23 stops represent the concept of spiritual awakening, followed by 15 for the principles of austerity and discipline. The next 15 are representative of attaining enlightenment while the last 22 stand for having reached nirvana in itself.

As a foreigner, partaking the journey is one massive outdoor adventure and will allow the visitors to see Japan in a different light, one that isn’t impressed by the flashing neon signs of the large cities. Even if one doesn’t feel inclined to do the whole pilgrimage, simply retracing its steps in any order will showcase some of the most beautiful landscapes the country has to offer. Many of the stops along the way are famous Japanese landmarks and sights which one might have wanted to see regardless. Those with a vested interest in Japanese history and culture should find the pilgrimage enlightening, especially since it takes significantly less time when making use of transportation methods such as buses and trains.

First image by pamnjeff.com

Second image by nanoda.com

Fun in the Bandai-Asahi Highlands

There are parks for all moods spread throughout Japan, as the Japanese have culturally maintained a close relationship with nature over the centuries. Some parks are ideal for relaxing to the sound of flowing water and chirping birds, some are ideal for long walks through displays of nature while some are great to get physically active in.

The Bandai-Asahi National Park fits into the lattermost category – it’s definitely more of a park where fun and physical activity are at the forefront of activities. There are many things to do at the park – including, but not limited to, skiing in the winter months, camping and fishing during the summer and playing water sports all year around. The park is fairly easily accessible by bullet train, Shinkansen, from Tokyo. There’s a need to change trains a few times and travel time can take up to 2.5 hours, but the sights to see and things to do in the park make the trip worth it.

There are some geographical landmarks that make the park district from others. Over 100 years ago in 1888, the volcano known as Mt. Bandai-san erupted, spewing forth large amounts of lava. The lava flowed into the Nagase River and led to the creation of several lakes, rivers and other district landscape markings that make the Bandai-Asahi National Park truly unique.

The highlands area wherein the park is located is riddled with small to medium sized ponds and lakes. As with many things Japanese, a group of ponds referred to as the Goshiki-numa, the five-colored ponds, are often considered as the most interesting and fascinating ones. Their formation is unique to the park and their coloring is attributed to volcanic substances dissolving in the water of the ponds over time, making for a truly spectacular sight. The light reflected in the water’s surface changes over time as the angle of the sun changes, allowing it to range from green hues across the color spectrum to light shades of blue and purple. A viewing area for the lakes has been constructed to allow visitors to take in the magnificent sight safely, and is large enough to easily spend an hour on walking about.

Summer and fall are the two definite seasons to visit Bandai-Asahi National Park. Nature will be in full bloom and the greatest amount of wildlife, especially native birds, can be seen during these times of year. Those who wish to experience the Japanese form of snowshoeing should pay a visit in the winter months and enjoy the thick layers of snow covering the Japanese Alps.

First image by Qwert1234 on wikipedia.com

Second image by japantravel-guide.com

Relaxing in Yofuin

Anyone who’s watched an anime from Japan is likely to be familiar with some of the cultural customs that are considered ordinary there and unlikely to be found anywhere else. These may include anything from dressing customs to social behavior. However, one such custom that is frequently represented in Japanese culture is the public bath and hot springs.

There is much history behind those, dating back thousands of years into Japanese history and culture and is up to this day still commonly integrated into society across the country. Many areas and places in Japan are well known for their hot springs.

Yufuin is one of the places of which the name is known generally for its hot springs throughout the Land of the Rising Sun. Geographically it is located in the Oita district and its Oita prefecture. The town’s area fell short just under 130 square kilometers (50 square miles) in 2003, with a population of just over 11,000. However in 2005, Yufuin was merged with neighboring towns of the same district to form a city named Yufu. The town is still generally referred to as Yufuin as the decision to merge towns was widely unpopular among the locals.

The town is located in a valley beneath the Mount Yofu, whose base is also the source for its famous hot springs’ heated water. 12 public hot springs can be found there, one of which is quite famous in Japan. The Shitanyu hot spring is regarded as the town’s most attractive location, and is located on the shore of the nearby Lake Kinrinko. The hot water coming from the bottom of the mountain merges with the lake and creates hot stream on cold days, giving the town of Yufuin the moniker of “town of the morning mist.” The water from the 12 hot springs are believed to help the human body recover from illness such as rheumatism – whether or not this claim has any substantial evidence, one thing that cannot be denied is that the hot springs make for an amazing relaxing soak regardless.

Yufuin is a great destination to visit when trying to unwind and experience the beauty of hot springs in Japan. Due to its small size, it lacks the pollution and hecticness of the metropolitan lifestyle and allows for ultimate outdoor relaxation in the hot springs that it is famous for. There are many so-called “ryokan” which could be equated to the western concept of a Bed & Breakfast establishment that make for cheap and readily available accommodation.

First image by Alik Griffin on alikgriffin.com

Second image by guesees.wordpress.com

Exploring Kamikochi

Japan is a hive of freedom when it comes to having choices in exploring the great outdoors. There are places to suit everyone’s needs and tastes and many things to explore for anyone lucky enough to visit the Land of the Rising Sun. There are literally unlimited things to do in the Japanese outdoors, from participating in sports, to simply relaxing underneath the beauty of Japan’s natural wonders.

There is quite possibly no easier way to experience the outdoors in Japan than to simply get outside and walk about. There are many places to explore, from city to rural areas. The country is also home to many mountains and hillsides ideal for hiking and climbing, providing access to some of the most beautiful visuals one could hope to see for themselves in the south-eastern Asian region.

Kamikochi is one of the many places an enthusiastic outdoor explorer should not pass up on visiting. It’s a type of resort area located in the Japanese Alps and is often heralded as one of the most picturesque parts of Japan’s natural scenery.

Due to weather conditions, Kamikochi is only accessible for half the year, normally ranging from mid to late April until the very mid of November, meaning the winter months make the area inaccessible. Basically, Kamikochi is a plateau, measuring in at an impressive length of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) and a height of 1.5 kilometers (.93 miles) above sea level. It counts as part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park.

The center of Kamikochi holds the Kappa Bridge, from where different hiking trails split off to the surrounding mountains or down the valley below. Most of the trails found in the area don’t require any special equipment or experience to make use of as most of the landscape is flat and even. Some trails are only recommended for experienced hikers, especially since weather conditions might potentially turn dangerous for the less experienced, and it is generally advised to not wander alone in dangers of getting lost.

There is also some wildlife to be seen at Kamikochi, predominantly during the fall, around the middle weeks of October. Monkeys climb around and with some luck some very colorful birds can be spotted in the vicinity, offering great opportunities for pictures to those with cameras.

Kamikochi has been developed with the priority of preserving the state of nature in its vicinity and therefore is only accessible by bus or taxi, with privately owned cars being banned from the area. The surroundings include a handful of restaurants as well as shops.

First image by japan-guide.com

Second image by sobre-japon.com