Dorxi Travel

Sites to See in Japan

The next great destination in Asia is Mount Fuji, the most important iconic symbol in Japan. UNESCO has just awarded this mountain World Heritage status, so the significance for climbing it is that much greater, but if you are not into climbing then there are so many other ways to appreciate the view. I recommend climbing Fuji at least once in your lifetime if you decide to either visit or move to Japan.

For millions of backpackers and holiday makers, Mount Fuji has been a must-go-to place, especially for those who want to experience being in the presence of one of Japan’s most venerated sites, and to feel the history of the region. It goes without saying that so many great poets, scholars, and men of high repute have trekked this mountain in search of enlightenment. For many, to get a glimpse of an ethereal realm where the Japanese race once evolved from according to ancient lore.

Many of us have not been fortunate enough to climb Mount Fuji, at least not yet. Now I have an excuse to go for it this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching this mountain from afar. The awe of this mountain can still be felt from every cardinal direction, including the air and from under the sea.

You can enjoy views of Mount Fuji from the comfort of a speeding bullet train across hundreds of miles of tea plantations dotted along Shizuoka Prefecture. You have your lunch box and cold rice brew there on the tray table while taking in one of the best views of the greatest mountain in Japan. If you are bound for Shizuoka via Shin-Yokohama, you should be sitting in the right starboard side window seat.

You could also enjoy Fuji from air if you have a window seat. You are sitting there on your domestic flight to Sapporo, and from the left side of your window you can see the snow-capped peaks of Fuji with your lunch box and cold beer in hand. The weather is gorgeous and you know you are off to a good start.

If you are a city dweller type, then you can visit the Mori Building in downtown Tokyo. Take the elevator up to the top floor, order some drinks at the bar, and sit down near the window and take in a nice sunset with Fuji in the backdrop while humming the national anthem of Japan in between sips.

If you are a tree hugging nature lover then perhaps the best way to enjoy views of Mount Fuji is from a pine grove. Miho no Matsubara is a pine grove that was also included in Mount Fuji’s world heritage list of areas. If you have ever seen a picture postcard of Japan, you will immediately identify with this imagery of lake, pine grove, and Fuji in the backdrop. It is perhaps one of the oldest and most photographed areas of the whole mountain.

If natural hot spas are your thing, then I highly recommend visiting either Puku Puku Hot Springs in Yamanashi Prefecture, or Benifuji no yu in Yamanakako. There are other hot spas as well, but these two are quite popular if you want to take in views of Mount Fuji from a luxurious open-air hot bath in nature.

And then lastly, Diamond Fuji. From October to late February during the sunset hours you can enjoy witnessing a brilliant sunset behind the mountain and all over Lake Yamanakako. In the early mornings of October you can see a cone-shaped cloud cover pattern over the peak of Fuji. It looks like a hat if you look carefully, and in the wee hours of the morning the mountain looks purplish sometimes.

So there you have it, a list of different ways to enjoy Fuji and how to enjoy it. If you have any questions drop me a line and I’ll get back with you. As of this year, climbing Fuji is free of charge, but now that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage the city council will implement a charge for climbing this mountain.

Tips to Save Time and Money for Tourists

People all over the world take an opportunity to go on vacations during summer. For them, it’s the best time to spend time with their families and enjoy themselves before the start of schooling season and return of cold weather. Taking a break doesn’t require too much money. In fact, there are a lot of ways where tourists can enjoy their vacations and save time and money at the same time.

• When going to the airport, fall in line behind business travellers and avoid falling in line behind families that carry a lot of stuff to put into the x-ray machine tray. This is because frequent travellers already know how to move quickly through that line than the others.

• When taking a flight, choose the type of plane to ride on. Not all airplanes are made equal so it’s recommended to check out the ones that offer nice seats and amenities. Some airlines have inline Wi-Fi onboard while some do not. Newer airlines have the comfort of nicer seats and more leg room. Furthermore, not all planes also have personal television screens for passengers either. Sometimes, trips also require airport transfers.

To ensure comfort and to avoid inconvenient trips and airport transfers, always check out the airlines’ quality and their amenities on various sites online.

• During room accommodations, deals processed last minute on sites such as Hotwire and Priceline can give tourists a discount of over 60% on the normal rates. They can also use the site Better Bidding to bid on their preferred rooms. Once the bid becomes successful, then it’s considered to be a steal if they will able to get a cheaper room rate during peak season. Looking at other people’s bids doesn’t require forum memberships; however, membership is required in order to place a bid.

• Ask for a hotel upgrade when checking in. Other than advance booking online, it’s also recommended to ask for free upgrades and goodies on the actual day of check in. Some hotels recommend free upgrade on certain rooms if there a lot of guests checking in to keep their customers happy. Guests should use that as an advantage especially when they came from long trips and airport transfers.

• When travelling with a group of people, getting suite rooms is much cheaper. Some king suite rooms have couches that can be folded out into beds. Ask friends to chip in to make the room rates more affordable and enjoy the comfort of staying in that place for a number of nights.

• When spending more than a week in the city, renting furnished apartments is much cheaper checking in hotels. Tourists can choose from a lot of good apartments on websites such as 9Flats, AirBnB, Home Away and Wimbu.

Apart from saving money on room rates, travellers can also save money on food expenses because apartments have kitchens where they can cook good food.

• Consider visiting sites like Hospitality Club and Couchsurfing to enjoy a free stay with the locals. These sites are perfect for finding inexpensive places to stay in the city and learn more about it while hanging out with the locals. These locals act more than guidebooks in providing information on what the tourists want to know.

In planning the next vacations, remember to keep these things in mind because travelling should not have to be an expensive and time consuming process. Instead, it should have to be convenient, affordable and fun.

Tips for Tropical Climate Holidays

Looking to go on holiday to somewhere with a tropical or sub-tropical climate?

If so, following some of the following tips might be useful and help you to enjoy yourself even more.

  1. Don’t over-economise on your luxury accommodation at the resort. Tropical can mean high humidity at some times of the year and however much you love sun and warmth, you’ll want great pool and air conditioning facilities to allow you to sometimes escape and freshen up. Some ‘bargain-basement’ holiday accommodation might be disappointing in those respects.
  1. Take it easy for a day or two after arrival. Allow your body to acclimatise to its surroundings rather than rushing off to try and climb that hill in the distance right after your hotel check-in
  1. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Keep alcohol to very sensible/modest levels due to its natural de-hydrating effects, as they’ll be exacerbated by the heat.
  1. Avoid very demanding swimming objectives unless you’re fit. Heat can be exhausting and even strong swimmers can sometimes find themselves in trouble if they’ve pushed themselves a little too far in hot conditions. That can be an even more significant risk if your fitness isn’t perhaps what it should be.
  1. Comply with those now very (or should be very) familiar medical tips relating to barrier creams and protecting yourself from over-exposure to the sun. Remember that a hat is often almost essential – even if you’re not usually someone that wears one.
  1. Think about that siesta. Many peoples around the world who live and work in hot and tropical climates will take it easy for 2-3 hours during the early to mid-afternoon when the temperature is at its highest. Find a tree by the pool or on the beach then park yourself with a book or have a gentle snooze – rather than trying to start playing football.
  1. Take local expert advice on insect protection. Actually, the risks here in many tropical areas are often hugely exaggerated by urban myth and very poor scaremongering advice from people who might never even have visited the destination! Even so, think about repellents etc. Sometimes ordinary common-sense is far more important that repellent compounds.
  1. Obey local safety instructions. This, of course, applies even in your local park back home! Nevertheless, tropical holiday destinations often incorporate beautiful nature and local wildlife. Local specialists will have provided safety advice when touring and sightseeing and that needs to be obeyed. Those who don’t because they ‘think they know better’ are often a danger to themselves and others around them.
  1. Research the local weather patterns. Some times in the year are a little hotter, cooler or wetter/dryer than others on average. You can select average conditions that are most suited to your requirements and preferences etc.
  1. Avoid heavy meals. Packing away big plates of carbohydrates in tropical conditions is likely to leave you feeling very uncomfortable and lethargic. Most local people tend to incline towards lighter meals taken in the evenings when it’s cool although very light snacking during the day is more commonplace (and sometimes necessary for an energy boost) and particularly so if you’ve only eaten a light lunch.

Lakes of Mount Fuji

Japan is known for its strong culture, superb restaurants and ultra-modern cities. What most tourists often forget about is that Japan has its fair share of natural wonders to explore as well. One of these happens to be Mount Fuji. With an almost perfect conical shape, Mount Fuji is considered by many to be the most coveted sight to see in the entire country. However, Mt. Fuji is not the only stunning spot to see during a day trip from Tokyo. If you want to capture the true essence of this Japanese icon, then try to spend a few days in the region referred to as Fuji Five Lakes.

Lake Kawaguchiko, Lake Yamanakako, Lake Saiko, Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko are situated at the northern base of Mount Fuji and they are collectively called the Fuji Five Lake region. Regardless of which lake you choose to stay near, you will be privileged with beautiful panoramic views of Mount Fuji and the surrounding countryside. This region also makes an excellent base for climbing the mountain.

Of the five lakes, Kawaguchiko tends to be the busiest because it serves as the primary transport hub in the region. Aside from its accessibility to the mountain, it is also known to be an outstanding hot spring resort town, which also has its fair share of attractions. Kawaguchiko is also particularly popular during the cherry blossom season, which is from mid-April until November. During this time, the seaside promenade is a picturesque spot to marvel at the cherry blossoms.

Lake Yamanakako is the largest among the five lakes. It is also the second most developed lake just behind Kawaguchiko. This lake’s eastern and western ends are occupied by small charming towns with various accommodation facilities. There are also restaurants and camping grounds all around Yamanakako. If you happen to have a 1000 yen bill, you can try to capture the very same picture that is printed on this Japanese bill. And after capturing the incredible scenery of Mt. Fuji, why not try to relax at one of the public hot springs baths around Yamanakako. One of these establishments, Benifuji no Yu even offers great views of Fuji from its baths.

Lake Saiko is the next door neighbour to Lake Kawaguchiko. You will get views of Mt. Fuji from this lake by heading out to its western end. Saiko is surrounded by wooded mountains, which adds to its appealing scenery. It is also home to a few campsites. These are just some of the reasons why the lake has become a favoured spot for outdoor activities like boating, camping, fishing and hiking. Saiko also maintains a hiking trail network, which leads to the hills, mountains and to the extensive forested area called Aokigahara Jukai.

If you would prefer more of a tranquil feeling while in the Mount Fuji region then consider visiting Lake Shojiko or Lake Motosuko. Both of these still offer breathtaking views of Mount Fuji, but since they have less development and fewer accommodation choices available, they tend to be quieter with fewer tourists. To get the best photos of Fuji from any of the five lakes, wake up early on a clear day and capture the reflection of Fuji on the surface of the water.

Japanese Travel Locations and People Names Can Be Confusingly Fun

Learn a bit about the Lingo and get an Inside View!

If you wondered why Japanese people refer to Mt. Fuji as Mr. Fuji, you are not alone.

When I first came to Japan, and actually until about two years ago, well okay, actually it still happens a lot, I was confused and continue to get confused by place names.

In Japanese, Mt. Fuji is called Fujisan. Also, as you know, the honorific for addressing people in Japan is to add a “san” to their name. For this reason, I really thought that Japanese people truly respected Mt. Fuji because they were referring to Mt. Fuji as Fuji “san” or Mr. Fuji. So keep in mind that you add san as an honorific to names as well as use san for mountain. Oh, and by the way, “san” also means “three”. Lots of “san” in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The other thing I realized a few days ago was that since the Edo Castle had moats that are “Hori” in Japanese, there are two central roads in Tokyo called Uchibori-dori and Sotobori-dori. “Uchi” means “inside” moat and “Soto” means “outside” moat. I understand that the moats around the Edo castle of old were land-filled and are now main thoroughfares running through Tokyo. You will hear directions that include “Sotobori dori” and “Uchibori dori” and now you will know that these roads used to be moats to protect the Edo Castle.

Here is another interesting place name for you. How about Shiodome? Hmmm. Guess what that means? “Shio” means “Tide” and “Dome” means to “stop” or “hold back”. So the area around Shinbashi station that is called Shiodome is actually a low-lying area that used to be underwater. It would stop the tides coming into the Shinbashi area.

How about places like Yamanaka-ko, Kawaguchi-ko, or Biwa-ko? Yes, you guessed it! “Ko” means lake. But ah-hah! That is different from names like Hanako, Hoshiko or Yoko. The “Ko” in these names mean “Child”. Pretty hippie don’t you think? Hana-ko can mean “Flower Child” or Hoshiko can mean “Star Child” or Yoko can mean “Sun-Child”. Nice, beautiful, natural and earthy names for a country seeped in a Shinto respect for nature and spirits in every living thing.

Have you heard the word “Ohayou”? This is translated as “Good Morning” but actually means “Its early” with the honorific “O” at the start of the word. Just like good night which is “Oyasuminasai” which literally means “Rest Now” with an honorific “O” to start the phrase. “Oyasumi” is also the word for holiday or time off and literally means “rest” with the honorific “O” at the top. How about “Oseiji”, hmmm, that’s and interesting one. It means “empty compliment” and you would use it when someone is telling you how great you are and you want to play it down. “Sonna Oseiji ha iranai yo!” is kind of like saying “Hey, you don’t need to butter me up so much!”. O yeah and don’t forget the word “Oishii!” this means “Delicious” and is the best compliment you can give your host during and after a nice meal. There is no honorific used here because the word in itself is kind and expresses your heartfelt thanks.

Learning a few words in Japanese and being able to recognize honorifics gives you a glimpse into the history of the area, geography and also how Japanese view that expression. A culture is expressed best in its own words so when you are in Japan try to give the lingo a try.

Ganbatte Kudasai! (Please do your best!

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