Thursday, April 19, 2012

Japan: Land of the Rising Sun

A 'Western' country, Japan is located in the Far East, in the Pacific ocean, and has China, two Koreas and Russia as the neighboring states. This country and its people have very peculiar features, original culture, rich history and amazing landscapes.
The main feature that the tourists immediately notice in Japan is the carefully looked after natural environment. Any territory, even the smallest strip of land among the skyscrapers, should necessarily be decorated with a tiny lawn. Any pond can be turned into a tiny nature reserve that the residents of the community consider their shrine. Carefully preserved historic monuments and temples are scattered all over the country, and that is why Japan makes an unforgettable impression on everyone, who decides to visit it.
The symbols of the country are the biggest 'holy gate' in Japan called Wooden Door, Itsukushima shrine on the 'sacred' island of Miyajima, standing in the water in a small bay, and the famous beautiful volcano, Mount Fuji, surrounded by picturesque landscapes. Another icon of the country is Seto Ohashi Bridge, erected in the end of the 20th century over the Inland Seto Sea, from Honshu to Shikoku. Many 'pearl farms' in Japan are also interesting as tourist sites visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world and the capital of Japan. It was founded in the middle of the 15th century following the outlook of the ancient Chinese capital Xi'an. This giant metropolis has many old wooden buildings and churches. They interestingly contrast the ultramodern neighborhoods. The center of the city is the Imperial Palace, former Edo Castle, which was constructed in the 15th century and was surrounded by picturesque parks. A lot of tourists also visit the temple of Toshogu Shrine, the Tokyo National Museum, the National Science Museum, the temple of Cannon goddess and many other places. In Tokyo, one will also find a complex of skyscrapers called Three Towers and the largest Harumi Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. Some of the minor, but no less interesting museums include the Museum of Subway, the Museum of Glasses, the Museum of Plumbing, the Museum of Bags etc.
To the northeast of Tokyo, there lies the Nikko National Park, located among picturesque lakes and known for the splendid Kegon and Shirakumo waterfalls and hot springs. The pearl of the resort is the Toshogu Shrine temple complex, which includes 23 monuments of architecture, including the famous pagoda and Yakusido temple. Numerous picturesque bridges are stretched over the waterways, and the most beautiful of them is the "sacred bridge" of Cinque. Mount Nantay is the place of the Buddhist temple Tachi-ki-Kannon and Kazaana caves, known as the caves of the winds.
The second largest city of the country is Yokohama. In the past, it was repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes, but today the city amazes with its ultra-modern architecture and the high speed of life. Yokohama is often called the city that never sleeps. Its main attractions are landscaped parks and an outdoor museum, which has gathered samples of traditional wooden buildings, temples and houses from all over the country. Here one will also find the largest and most renowned commercial district of the coutnry, the water park called the Island of Entertainment, and the Maritime Museum. However, it is difficult to stay in Yokohama for a long time because of the strong gas pollution and extremely high density of population.
Nara is the first imperial capital of the country, often visited because of its open-air museum, which houses the most important Buddhist temples and pavilions, pagodas and gardens. Located 70 km from Nara, the famous Horyuji Temple is recognized as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lake Biwa is located in the central part of Honshu Island, north-east of the former capital of Kyoto. It is often mentioned in Japanese literature, since it lies close to the ancient capital. The lake has three islands, where big cities of Hikone and Otsu are located. Biwa is also known as the paradise for fishing.

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