STUBA explores beautiful Japan
Stuba explores beautiful Japan
With thousand years of civilised culture, and magnificent history, Japan is one of the most popular places to visit for those interested in history.
Japan has two dominant religious traditions: Shinto (神道) is the ancient animist religion of traditional Japan, and Buddhismofficially arrived in 552 CE. For much of its history, the two faiths were not clearly differentiated, but there was a schism when Buddhism lost favor with the fall of the Shogun and the subsequent modernization of the country in the late 19th century. Today, the two faiths are clearly separated, most Buddhist elements have long since been removed from most Shinto shrines, and the ceremonies are clearly separated.
Karaoke (カラオケ) was invented in Japan and can be found in virtually every Japanese city. Pronounced kah-rah-oh-keh it is abbreviated from the words “Empty orchestra” in Japanese – many natives won’t have any idea what you’re talking about if you use the English keh-ree-oh-kee. Most karaoke places occupy several floors of a building. You and your friends have a room to yourself – no strangers involved – and the standard hourly rate often includes all-you-can-drink booze, with refills ordered through a phone on the wall or through the karaoke machine itself. The major chains all have good English-language song selections. Old folks prefer singing enka ballads at small neighborhood bars.
The most important holiday in Japan is New Year’s (お正月 Oshōgatsu), which pretty much shuts down the country from December 30 to January 3. Japanese head home to their families (which means massive transport congestion), eat festive foods and head out to the neighborhood temple at the stroke of midnight to wish in the New Year
The longest holiday is Golden Week (27 April to 6 May, but varies slightly), when there are four public holidays within a week and everybody goes on extended vacation. Trains are crowded and flight and hotel prices are jacked up to multiples of normal prices, so it can be a bad time to travel in Japan, but the weeks immediately before or after Golden Week are excellent times.
Spring is one of the best times of year to be in Japan. The temperatures are warm but not hot, there’s not too much rain, and March-April brings the justly famous cherry blossoms (sakura) and is a time of revelry and festivals. For the southern half of the country, cherry blossom season typically starts towards the end of March and peaks in early April. The northern half has its season in mid to late April, up to Hokkaido which is in early May.
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