While traveling across Japan, it is highly likely you will step into at least one temple or shrine. The architecture, history, culture, and natural beauty of temples and shrines make them great places to visit. There are a few rules you may not be familiar with that are common across the country. It is important to follow the rules to help preserve these religious sites and allow others to have a pleasant experience.
Take Shoes Off Before Entering a Building
This may seem basic, but it is not always obvious to visitors that you are expected to remove footwear before entering buildings. There is an area you can take shoes off and put them in a storage bin or leave to the side. Slippers are typically provided by the site for visitors to use while touring the interior. It is acceptable to walk around in socks if your feet are too big to fit into slippers. If you wear a men's size 10 or larger shoe, you should plan to wear thicker crew socks as a precaution.
Follow the Guide Arrows and Path
It is important to travel along the designated route inside buildings to help keep the flow of foot traffic moving. You may be asked to not stop along the way if the site is very busy and crowded. In addition, staying on pathways prevents damage to the grounds and floorboards not protected for visitors.
Do Not Take Photos Where Prohibited
There may be signs posted asking visitors to refrain from taking flash photos or pictures in general. One reason for this is to protect paintings and other art from damage and deterioration due to the intensity of a camera flash. Another is to prevent traffic from slowing down due to everyone taking a picture of the same thing. Third, temples and shrines want to prevent pictures taken of treasured artifacts and encourage gift shop sales. Regardless of the reasoning, you should respect the signs posted.
You Can Participate in Various Cultural Practices
When visiting a temple or shrine, you may see other visitors breathe incense or take a sip from flowing water with a wooden cup or other instrument. It is acceptable to follow their lead by saying a prayer and also partaking in these cultural practices.
Ask About Shuinchou Stamps Before Taking a Tour
You should ask how each temple and shrine stamps a shuinchou book or look for signs upon entering, The reason is because some places are busy and will collect them at the beginning of a tour to complete. Others may give a pre-made insert to put in a book. The most enjoyable experience is watching someone create the stamp, but this is not always the case. Keep in mind that not all temples and shrines provide stamp opportunities for a shuinchou.
Japan is not the only country that has a cherry blossom season. The Tidal Basin around the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. is another such place. This area is full of cherry blossom trees given to the United States by Japan. Each spring, the blossoms go into full bloom for locals and tourists to enjoy. The timing various depending on the weather just like in Japan. An annual festival known as the National Cherry Blossom Festival is held around the blooming time period. The festival hosts multiple activities and events in the heart of Washington D.C. The history of how the cherry blossom trees were donated and more about the National Cherry Blossom Festival can be found here. Another great resource for blooming forecasts is the full bloom watch for Washington D.C. found here. This site gives updates on the latest information for peak blooming and previous season information. The average full bloom time period is similar to that of Japan. You should expect the peak bloom in Washington D.C. to occur, on average, between the last week of March and the first week of April. It is quite the spectacular and you should expect a plethora of tourists and traffic during the peak bloom period.
The city of Nara, Japan is located east of Osaka, Japan and south of Kyoto, Japan. It can be reached by about a 50 minute train ride from Osaka or an hour train ride from Kyoto. Nara is well known for the Todai-ji Buddhist temple. While the temple and its statute of Buddha are well worth seeing, many tourists also enjoy visiting the Nara deer.
What are Nara Deer?
The deer found in Nara are known as sika deer. The deer are wild and are a protected species in Japan. You can find sika deer in other locations across Japan such as Miyajima Island. The deer in Nara are fairly tame and used to people visiting the area.
Where can I see Nara Deer?
The Nara Deer can easily be found at Nara Park. The easiest way to reach Nara Park by train is to get off at Kintetsu-Nara Station and head directly east. You will pass by Nara Park while heading towards Todai-ji temple.
Can You Touch or Feed Nara Deer?
There are special crackers available for sale around Nara Park to feed the deer. You are not supposed to feed them anything else. Use caution if you want to pet them as they are wild animals.
Nara Park in Nara, Japan
Hello everyone and thank you for visiting my website and blog. I hope you have enjoyed the content and posts thus far. I wanted to take a moment and share a little about myself and the reason for this website's existence.
My strong interest and passion started over a decade go due to friends introducing me to Japanese art and culture. At that time, the only way to indulge in anything Japanese was to either watch a couple of dubbed television shows on Toonami, attend a convention, or actually visit Japan. I was always envious of friends that did exchange programs to Japan and knew one day I would visit too. Through my time in high school and college, I indulged in Japanese history, cultural articles, watched anime shows, and went to a number of conventions. I also volunteered for a few Japanese culture related events. After graduating college with a business degree, I started a full-time job in retail management and had my first real opportunity to save for vacations.
Seven years later, I finally got serious about visiting Japan. Life happens fast and unless you prioritize what is important, time will pass you by. I set a time frame for when I wanted to go and began saving toward the trip. At six months out I booked a flight, lodging arrangements, and starting planning the details. After a year of saving and over 60 hours of planning, I was ready to take a solo adventure to Japan in April 2016. I loved every minute of the ten day trip and explored Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Miyajima Island. Some of the most amazing things about Japan can only be experienced in person. Japan is a very safe place to travel alone as long as you having an understanding of the culture, acknowledge the language barrier, and follow safety protocol. I learned so much planning and visiting the country. In June 2017, I was able to visit again with my fiance and her mother. We had an excellent time and I got see more of Japan with minimal overlap from the first trip. I also planned the bulk of my second trip, but it is important to plan less when traveling with others. I decided after the trip to share my knowledge and passion for Japan with others. My goal for this website is to share interesting and helpful information for others to enjoy and ultimately plan a trip of their own.
I currently work full-time and attend part-time MBA school. My time is limited with class twice a week on top of my daily job, but I make a priority to post fascinating topics with relevant information. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to send a message through the Get in Touch page.
Thanks again for visiting and I appreciate your continued support,
Vibrant billboards, neon lights, video advertisements, and trendy shop logos. These are among many of the pictorial signs seen walking the streets of a major Japanese city. Looking closer to the ground level, you may find a sign denoting a pedestrian crossing or subway entrance. However, not all signs are things you would normally see in another country or expect while sightseeing. Japan has signs for practically everything imaginable and some are more obscure than others.
One focus of the Japanese culture is an effort towards safety. There are constant reminders of how to safely walk around a city or use public transportation. The great thing is that you do not need to understand Japanese to understand many safety signs. There are plenty of drawings, graphics, and examples without the use of words for citizens and tourists. Some of the safety signs you may come across are quite humorous.
Beyond safety, there is a right way and wrong way to do many activities. In order to bridge the language barrier gap for tourists, directions are often given as pictorial diagrams. Many of the diagrams are comical, but they do illustrate the point well. Reading interesting signs and directions will help you stay safe, follow Japanese laws, and adhere to local customs without issue. The last thing anyone would want to do is to use a toilet incorrectly.