Why go backpacking in Japan?
A gap year in Japan is a unique way to spend your time abroad. The country is famed for its outlandish style, beautiful temples and gardens, and cutting edge technology. If you don’t want any two days to ever be the same, backpacking in Japan might just be for you.
Whether you’re there to sight see in fearlessly futuristic cities, teach English as a foreign language, go climbing up Mount Fuji, volunteer on a conservation project with native wildlife, or heading to a world class ski resort, the sheer dazzling variety of Japan means you’re never likely to be bored.
A lot is made of Japan being weird – it’s certainly culturally different to what many westerners are used to. Be respectful, drink it in, and enjoy.
Chances are your time backpacking in Japan will kick off in Tokyo, which in many ways feels like a country unto itself. You might spend the day overloading your senses in Akihabara, otherwise known as Electric Town, immersing yourself in otaku culture before the sun sets and the neon lights spring up and you spend the night screaming your lungs out in a karaoke bar.
Or you might visit the stunning Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, or go fashion-hunting in Harajuku before kicking back in Yoyogi Park waiting for night to fall. Then get yourself over to Shinjuku for amazing food and lively bars. There’s waaay too much to do in Tokyo to mention it all here. Accommodation and transport isn’t the cheapest in the world, but it’s totally worth every yen.
Elsewhere there’s Kyoto, packed with thousands of temples, shrines, and imperial palaces, Sapporo, famous for the Ice Festival and skiing (in winter, of course), and Osaka’s amazing nightlife.
One of the best things about travel in Japan is that you can pretty much see the technological future of the world in the the big cities like Tokyo, while the past is the present out in the country. Tumbledown wooden shacks can still be spotted next to glass fronted designer condominiums, you might discover a sliding wooden door which leads to a traditional chamber with tatami mats, and tea ceremony. All signs of Japan’s rich and beautiful history.
Japan has some of the best mountains in the world, including the famous snowcapped Mount Fuji, the beautiful autumn colours of Mount Koya, and the cherry blossoms of Mount Yoshino. If epic scenery is your thing, Japan has you covered.
Head to the Pacific coast in the summer for scorching weather and stunning beaches, or Mount Zao in winter for skiing around the famous snow monsters, trees so festooned with snow they look like otherworldly creatures. If you fancy an active gap year, this is the place. You could also visit Jigokudani hot spring to relax in the company of bathing macaques.
The best way to experience the country is to find a good mix of cities and scenery. It’s basically impossible to get bored on a gap year in Japan.