Por Ines Matos
There is something to be said for taking your time when travelling and owning your own experience. Sure, it's easy to fill your schedule with things to do. Value for money and making the most out of the time that you have have almost become a mantra for modern tourism.
Doing more and more all in time to do it again may give you a schedule rush but don’t be surprised if the memories you make never move beyond the brochure in which you read about them.
If you head down to Setagaya, for example, in Tokyo's south-west, and take the local tram line that runs down there, you have all day and then some to wander around the back streets of the local suburbs. In doing so, you'll come across local shrines, cafes and absorbing moments of natural and historical discovery.
Or perhaps on the other side of Japan in Nagasaki, rather than hurrying through to see this and see that, you could instead stroll through the suburban hills and surprise yourself with temple and shrine complexes that are monuments of curiosity and exploration. A quick sojourn into an alleyway because something caught your eye and you may find yourself enjoying lunch in a back lane sushi bar imbued with decades of authenticity and proprietor toil.
Swing back to eastern Japan and try your luck in the streets of southern Saitama where Koshigaya, a treasure trove of local flavour and suburban idling, will surprise you with not only just how accessible and tasty Japanese food is but also how elegant and refined its sense of history can be.
Next time you are in Japan, wherever it is that you visit, coming across your own itinerary as it happens can lead to a trip that is fulfilling and satisfying. So do yourself a favour and see Japan with your own eyes. Your memories will be thankful for the attention.
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A Japanese Permanent Resident, I drool over proper soba and sushi while Japanese aesthetics ticks all the right boxes for me.With over 200 published articles on Japan as well as 5 English language books written in a traditional Japanese style, I also happen enjoy writing. Funny that...I'm also the Regional Partner for Tokyo, Japan's never ending capital, so if you've anything to say about Tokyo - or Japan in general - don't be shy and contact with me via email@example.com