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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Walking Holidays in Japan

One of the best things about traveling to Japan is that even in the age of modernization and industrialization, it's still a land that caters to walking. Walking is as free as it is liberating, and it's coming into fashion of late as good exercise as well as a popular means of having one's holiday.

Despite its high-tech image, Japan remains a nation of beautiful contrasts. It therefore holds its natural scenery and ancient architecture in as high esteem as its latest gadgets. Although you can walk your way around Tokyo or Osaka easily enough, there's something to be said about spending one's afternoon moseying through mountains littered with temples and roaring waterfalls.

Popular Destinations

Walking tours of Japan can keep you to just one of the primary islands or across all four via bullet train when you're not breaking in your new pair of shoes. Some popular destinations include but are not limited to the following.

• Kamakura, the former capital of Japan. You'll see the Daibutsu here (a giant, bronze Buddha) as well as countless shrines, some of them older than 800 years.

• Mount Fuji, a symbol of natural Japan. Nearby is the postcard-perfect lake country of Hakone.

• Kyoto, complete with geisha and geiko, canals, Nijo Castle, and the Golden Temple Kinkaku-ji.

• Hiroshima, the city that had been predicted to stay ashes and dust for 100 years but is today no less than bustling and lively. You'll see the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Peace Memorial Park. Just a train ride away is Miyajima, a sacred island with a floating torii. The corresponding Itsukushima Shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

• The Old Nakasendo Trail, connecting Tokyo to the mountains. Ancient samurai walked this route.

Kumano Kodo, a network that runs throughout the Kii Peninsula, from Kyoto to Kumano. You'll see the three Grand Shrines of Kumano.

Dates, Prices, and Perks

Dates and prices vary, of course, but most cost around £3000 and last about 2 weeks. Because you use your own feet for travel half of the time instead of being driven from place to place in what feels like a cattle car, walking tours can be more affordable than typical overseas holidays. Your sightseeing isn’t cut short as it can be when a bus driver starts tapping his wristwatch. Walking takes time; that's more time for you to breathe fresh air, admire the natural and historic beauties of Japan, and make fond memories.

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Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online degrees, and what it takes to succeed as a student getting an online associates degree remotely from home.

In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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