September 2011 Japan Blog Matsuri: Reasons to Visit Japan

I’m very proud to be hosting the September Japan Blog Matsuri. This month’s theme was “Reasons to Visit Japan.” As many of you know, this year has been particularly challenging for Japan due to the March 11 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. Although much work still needs to be done in terms of reconstruction and policy reform, the country and its people have persevered and provided constant reminders of the things that make Japan such a special place.

This month, we have 23 fantastic submissions that are sure to make you want to start shopping for plane tickets. They cover a huge range of topics from food and fashion to historical landmarks and pop culture. Some contributors focused on just one aspect or place, while others came up with their own lists. The entries are listed below in no particular order:


The Food @ Mmm-Fruit!
Warning: This will make you hungry! Ramen, soft cream, sushi, sashimi, chirashi, mochi cream, kaiseki ryouri, parfaits, Kobe beef yakitori, soup curry, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, shabu shabu, soba, shaka shaka chicken, and vending machine food—oh my, let’s eat!


Fashion, Music, Food, Friends, Etc. @ ichigoichielove
The reasons are excellent, the photographs are plentiful, and the good times are self-evident—check out this great submission by ichigoichielove.


Return to Tohoku: The Road to Recovery @ mwblodgett’s YouTube Channel
Michael showcases the resilience and spirit of the Japanese people in a heart-warming video about his recent trip to the disaster-hit Tohoku region, where he taught English on the JET Program. Look beyond the devastation, meet the people.


5 Reasons to Visit Japan @ Haikugirl’s Japan
The ever-delightful Haikugirl thinks you should go to Japan for a challenge, to impress people, to try something new, to learn about a different culture, and to experience first-class customer service. What’s not to like?


A Love Letter to Omicho Market @ I’ll Make It Myself
This trip through a Kanazawa market is an excellent reminder of the wonderful fresh seafood, produce, and other culinary delights that frequent Japanese markets—it’s a local experience that will make you nostalgic for the days when all shopping was like this.


Minami Uonuma, Niigata @ The Soul of Japan
The Soul of Japan treats us to a a wonderfully detailed description of Niigata and some beautiful photos. Niigata prefecture may be most well-known for its rice, sake, and skiing, but it has a lot more to offer.


Reasons to Visit Japan @ Nopy’s Blog
Nopy gives us a hilarious set of “real” reasons to visit Japan, including: getting chased by deer, eating Japanese burgers and Pizza Hut, spotting schoolgirlsmen, visiting the doctor, finding “no groping” signs, and walking into Shibuya 109 without getting stopped by security.


The Ambience, the Scenery, the People @ In Search of the Rising Sun
For Sam, these three things make Japan an amazing place to simple be, regardless of your specific travel itinerary—it’s an experience that you’ll never forget.


Ishibei-koji @ Adventures in Gradland
This quiet, unassuming cobblestone alley in Kyoto’s Higashiyama district sums up everything Gradland likes about Japan. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you walk amongst the traditional shops.


Exploring Japan by Bike @ A Man With Tea
The ease. safety, and comfort of bicycling in Japan’s cities is a boon to both residents and casual travelers. It’s a great way to really experience the country.


Nakasendo Post Towns and Haikyo @ Tennessee Terakoya
Tennessee Terakoya longs to explore history in both its preserved and “ruined” forms, to visit the preserved town of Tsumago along the old Nakasendo post road through central Honshu and to take the “haikyo” tour of hidden shrines and abandoned structures.


Super Fast Travel with Shinkansen @ Travels By Uni
Travels by Uni reminds us that Japan’s famous “bullet trains” are fast, convenient, and a wonderful way to see the country.


This Genius’s Reason for Visiting Japan @ Organization Anti Social Geniuses
Justin gives us a list of his own that includes famous places (especially the Osama Tezuka Museum), culture, and the fact that Japan is the mecca of anime and manga.


Miyajima @ A Modern Girl
In my own contribution to this month’s Matsuri, I take you on a tour of Miyajima, one of Japan’s most celebrated scenic spots. Its stunning architecture, beautiful scenery, interesting wildlife, and traditional culture make it a classic reason to visit Japan.


Shopping @ jmarketblog
From traditional handicrafts to Japanese delicacies, there are many interesting and novel items that can only be found in Japan. Tokyu Hands, Loft, Don Quijote, depachika, combini… let the shopping begin!


Hoshiko’s Reasons for Visiting Japan @ World of Yamaguchi Hoshiko
Hoshiko has put together a fun set of reasons, including Wonder Festival (for figure collectors), Akihabara, cherry blossoms, New Year’s Eve temple celebrations, food, and 1:1 life-size Gundam.


Reasons to Visit Japan @ Life in Kawagoe
Cocomino gives us some great reasons to travel along with some stunning photographs. Nature, food, festivals, culture—why don’t you come to Japan?


Reasons to Visit Japan @ Kuuki no Puraido
Buying doujin, seeing real yakuza (Japanese mafia members), visiting Honnouji, eating delicious food, and experiencing Japanese culture are the things that have Kuuki excited about Japan.


Japanese Temples and Shrines @ Travels By Uni
Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines are among the most famous of Japan’s sights. This blogger shares her experiences at Sensoji, Sanjusangendo, Kiyomizudera, and Todaiji.


Reasons to Visit Japan @ Japan Australia
Natural beauty, cultural heritage, culinary excellence, adventure, and lots of cool technology and art keep this blogger coming back to Japan for more.


There’s No Reason Why You Should Not! @ The Blog Side of Life
Finally, for those of you that still have lingering doubts, Franeymoon dispels myths about distance, expensiveness, language difficulties, and of course, radiation.

This is a truly impressive set of contributions, and I’m very excited to be able to introduce you to this diverse and interesting set of bloggers. I hope you enjoy reading their stories as much as I did!

Note: As of July 2013, the following two submissions links appear to have gone dead. Here they are, for posterity:

Keirin (Track Cycling) @ loneleeplanet
Loneleeplanet tells us about keirin, a track cycling event that started in Japan in 1948 and became an Olympic sport at the 2000 Sydney games. The sport has become a social institution.

Mountains @ Kaley in Japan
You might not think of Japan as a mountainous place, but in many areas they’re a common feature of the landscape. Lush and green, they add to the beauty and atmosphere of the country.