Friday, June 19, 2009

Blogging festivities and ranking of best towns in Japan where to travel

I have been blogging on blogspot for more than two years and now its time to look back and recall what’s happened during this time. Also, I will offer jubilee special – my very subjective view of best towns to travel to in Japan.

My blogging on blogspot have been great success – I was able to keep this place on internet for more than two years. Before this I rented domains in two countries, which involved some administrative annoyances etc. basically too much bothering. In contrast, blogspot is free and I don’t have to display any advertisements. Only disadvantage on blogspot in comparison to webpage is that I could not include some fancy design elements I would like to use. Yet, advantage of blog is growing community and that is relatively easy to see what is being posted and when.

I post mainly videos. Text and pictures just add missing information or something I could not include in video. If I have not used text in blog, I would have to narrate video, which would be too much time consuming. Since I use videos I have to depend on video sharing sites. It’s probably future of the internet, but now it’s a new thing. It is costly for video sharing sites to provide their services as video downloads takes lot of internet bandwidth. I doubt they are making profit, but they are working hard now to get market share for future cash flows. We all benefit from this competition.

Now that I have been to almost all prefectures of Japan (it took me much longer time than this blog), I will give my very subjective ranking of towns which I have traveled through and liked.

For selecting towns my criteria are very simple – interestingness, preserved historical or natural sites, ease and friendliness for tourists to navigate town, availability of places to “chill out” etc.

Here it is from top to down (from town I liked the most):

1.Nagasaki, Nagasaki pref – what I liked was feel of town, peace park, old buildings, nice restaurant avenue near pier, night view from Inasa hill, street car
2.Inuyama, Gifu pref – harmony of living town, beautiful castle, nearby Meiji museum (+), feeling of true Japan (was my top one for a long time, before I saw Nagasaki)
3.Shimonoseki and Kitakyushuu, Yamaguchi pref – historical buildings, ease of sightseeing, openness to tourists, uniqueness, engineering wonders – bridge, undersea tunnel
4.Hakodate, Hokkaido – hill view, old brick and wooden buildings, streetcar, undersea tunnel (+) – need to take train from Aomori
5.Kamakura, Kanagawa pref – temples and feel of town, street car with views on sea

Hmm, ranking pretty much covers all 4 islands of Japan, with two sites being on Kyushu island. I also liked towns in Shikoku - Matsuyama and Takamatsu.

Note - this is ranking of towns and not places or tourist objects.

I would love to hear comments about your favorite town in Japan, where travel to.

Nagaoya Catholic Church
Image: Nagoya Catholic Church

Image: Kamakura temple

Image: Kamakura sunset


Alison said...

Hmmm, a good but very difficult challenge... Only towns, or can I include countryside areas...?

Mountaincat said...

Thank you for comment! Actually I could only rank towns, because there are so many places I like and impossible to tell which is most interesting.

Interesting, you also have traveled a lot, which towns and areas you like the most ?


Alison said...

Yes, like you, I've visited many places from way before I started my blog! Haven't been to anywhere on Shikoku yet... There's no way I can rank my favourites, despite that being a national obsession here (along with shopping)!

OK, looking only at cities, so not countryside places, and basing my selection on your criteria and the number of times I've chosen to go there...

Tokyo - would need a separate post to explain why I love Tokyo so much, but of course I live here.

Kobe, for it's relaxed international feel, modern architecture, Westernー(style architecture, harbourーside restaurants and bars, mix of city and countryside, and close proximity to Osaka and Kyoto. A very easy and relatively cheap getaway from Tokyo.

Kyoto really should be included ー it's one of the first cities on any visitor's itinerary. Yet, even though it's so beautiful, it did take me 4 or 5 visits to fully appreciate it. I used to find it too austere and museum-like to be able to appreciate it comfortably, but now I love it!

Those are my favourite cities, although I suspect that perhaps they've become favourites partly *because* I know them so well. Perhaps the many other smaller towns I already love would become favourites if I could visit again...?

I want to go to some of the places you describe, particularly in Gifu actually, where I hear the countryside can be beautiful...

What about countryside areas...?

Mountaincat said...


Thanks for your ideas. That’s true about Kyoto. I have been twice and will try to go again. What you like the most from Tokyo and Kyoto ?

Kobe is also my favorite cities. Good to see that harbor waterfront area. Westerners also tend to like towns with Western style buildings, like I enjoyed in Nagasaki.

I could not really think about most interesting country side areas. I have not been to all places where I wanted to go, but if I have to think quickly I would say that I liked Seto inland sea (many small islands), coast from Akita to Aomori on Nihonkai side (onsens with sea view), Itsukushima (Miyajima in Hiroshima), Sado island, Japan romantic road – or route 120 (from Nikko to Gunma), North Alps etc.

I always like places which are far or I don’t know well. It also depends with what kind of mode traveler is leaving house. Also, if I see more than I expected, I would also tend to like that place better.


Alison said...

Interesting again, you've been to some different places to me.

I also tend to like places that require some small level of difficulty in getting to them... Those places tend to be quieter and so more beautiful, ideal for hours of cycling or walking!

Having said that, of course I liked Miyajima! But I also liked the area around Matsushima (although too touristy, sounds like Seto inland sea might be better), Sakurajima and the Mount Aso area, Koya-san (Wakayama in general I think I need to explore more), and perhaps my favourites Kuroshima and Kohamajima (two of the Yaeyama Islands off Okinawa, off peak season).

I need to travel more!!!

Mountaincat said...


Also here - I like places away from major tourists spots. More personal and individual experience. Wakayama is good for nature - dramatic coast and wild life. Yeah, I also want to see Koya-san.

I think most places can reach with train or bus in Japan. Thats very good point about traveling in Japan.


Best places in Japan said...

One unique place in Japan is Hokkaido is great combination of fabulous experiences. From trek of volcanic mountains, deep forests for adventure seekers to Sapporo snow festival of carved sculptures in February, from relaxing at national park & Lo – Zan to just soaking Kawayu Onsen enriched with Sulphur, its one helluva remarkable journey you won’t want to miss.

Mountaincat said...

Best places in Japan,

Thank you for comment. Hokkaido is also good. I particularly liked Hakodate. I have been there during winter and it was really cold. Notable are differences in construction style between Hokkaido and Honshu.