Monday, December 21, 2009

Japanese Cities and Locations I Love and/or Love to Visit

John Marine | 12/21/2009 04:46:00 AM | |
SPECIAL NOTE: If you would like to donate to the American Red Cross to help aid in recovery efforts from the 2011 Sendai Earthquake, you may visit the American Red Cross' website for more information on how you can donate to the American Red Cross to aid in recovery efforts in Japan and in the Pacific. To read my thoughts and well-wishes for those affected by the Sendai Earthquake and of any tsunamis in the Pacific, read my JBS blog post: "My Thoughts and Prayers Go Out to Japan and the South Pacific."

My favorite country besides my own is Japan. I can't really share where I've gotten my fascination with Japan from, but I have that fascination. And to prove it, there are a few cities I'd love to visit if I one day actually travel and go to Japan.

I've always wanted to meet people from Japan since my fascination earlier this decade. Unfortunately, I never got to meet anyone really from Japan (in person) up until about 2004 or 2005. I've known a few people (all females) in person from Japan. They were either from Tokyo or Yokohama. One thing I most love about Japan are all the sakura (cherry blossom) trees. They are like pinkish-white snow on trees. They are so beautiful, especially when sakura trees are in full bloom. A lot of cities I'm into for Japan are mostly modern cities, but I have gotten a bit into a few villages. Trouble is, I don't know too many small towns I like in Japan.

Internet links to these places will be provided below each city I include in this blog entry. All in English, but there should be Japanese links available for all or most cities and locations mentioned. You can learn more about each city I mention in this big blog entry.

--- Favorite Japanese Cities and Locations ---
Here are some of many cities in Japan that I love...

Tokyo, Japan.

^ from: - Tokyo has long been Japan's capital for centuries.

Saying that you want to go to Japan... but not visit Tokyo is like saying you want to visit the United States of America, and don't want to go to New York City. It's obvious this is the top city for me in regards to visiting Japan. How can you not be turned on to a city like Tokyo if you're talking about Japan? Fashionable and trendy types should know about Shibuya as well as Harajuku. The Odaiba district of Tokyo is home to a very popular D1 Grand Prix drift course as well as Fuji Television's headquarters. I've seen "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," played lots of the "Tokyo Xtreme Racer" games, love racing Tokyo R246 in Gran Turismo games, seen both seasons of "I Survived a Japanese Game Show," I've played the arcade shooting game "The Keisatsukan" (called "Police 911" in America and "Shinjuku 24-7" in Europe)... if Tokyo is included (with the exception of Godzilla, because I'm not a Godzilla fan), I'd love to play it and immerse myself more with the city of Tokyo.

I mentioned Tokyo R246. That's a unique and signature course for Gran Turismo games since the Polyphony Digital building is featured. That's in the lovely Akasaka district. However, I tend to hear more about another district more, Asakusa. But I don't know as much as I would like to about Asakusa. I only know a few other districts of Tokyo. Then you have the incredibly busy Shinjuku Station. I mean, there's just so much to Tokyo, it's crazy. And if you're the sporty type, other than baseball, I know Japan for football (as in soccer, though gridiron football (and even rugby football) is also popular in Japan) for teams like FC Tokyo and Tokyo Verdy of the J-League.

I guess what I like most about Tokyo is the fact that this city features a lot of traditional Japan, but also modern (and even post-modern) Japan. DEFINITELY the city I'd most want to visit or first want to visit. Among many people, it's the birthplace of people like the amazing Megumi Hayashibara, TNA Wrestler Hamada (whom I'm a fan of. She's tough!), and others.

Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji
^ from: - Mt. Fuji is Japan's natural symbol.

I had initially named this as "Japanese Cities I'd Love to Visit." But, I decided to include Mt. Fuji into my blog as must-visit places. It is a beautiful sight in Japan. Beautiful and iconic. It is truly the symbol of Japan.

Yokohama, Japan.

^ from: - Yokohama is 30 miles south of Tokyo.

I've known only one person from Yokohama, a girl named Akemi. Yokohama is about 30 miles south of Tokyo. The only locale I best know about Yokohama is the beautiful Minato Mirai. I only know J-League football in Japan more than I do Japanese baseball. So I also know Yokohama for Yokohama F Marinos.

Mt. Haruna.

^ from: - For you "Initial D" fans, Haruna should be recognizable to you.

Here's a hint... you Initial D fans know it as Mount Akina. Mount Akina in the Initial D series is known in reality as Mt. Haruna. I was introduced to this course in "Tokyo Xtreme Racer Drift 2." Say whatever you want about drifting- this is drifting Mecca. Just the fact that this pass is real is enough reason to want to see the real thing if you do want to go to Japan.

Nagoya, Japan.

^ from: - Nagoya, Japan.

I was first introduced to Nagoya in "Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3." While the Nagoya highway battles weren't all that exciting in the game, I do think Nagoya is a very nice city. Nagoya Castle is no doubt the most beautiful sight in Nagoya. The J-League football club here is Nagoya Grampus Eight.

Osaka, Japan.

^ from: - Osaka's skyline in the daytime.

I was first introduced to Osaka in "Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3." And when "Street Fury" was featured on G4 TV here in the United States, a beautiful lady (formerly a race queen and a model) named Mayumi was featured on some episodes of Street Fury along with the host, Big C. I've always known Osaka to be the City of Water. There are many waterways in Osaka. For you video game fans, Capcom (you know... the company that made game series like Street Fighter, the MegaMan games, etc.) is based in Osaka. The most spectacular sight in Osaka to me is the Umeda Sky Building. Look it up online. Imagine two towers interconnected at the top with a big garden. Here is an example here: Umeda Sky Building It is really a beautiful sight in a beautiful city like Osaka. Gamba Osaka rules this city if you're talking J-League football. I've even seen Osaka featured on an episode of "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations."

Hiroshima, Japan.

^ from: - Hiroshima is still a lovely city even though many people immediately think of World War 2's devastation when Hiroshima is mentioned.

Mention Hiroshima, and you'll probably be reminded of World War II. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Atomic Bomb Dome is a reminder of the devastation during World War II after the A-Bomb. Decades since and in rebuilding this city, today's Hiroshima is a beautiful place. Lots of sakura trees can be found in Hiroshima. All of which, very beautiful to watch. Also beautiful is the Itsukushima Shrine within Hiroshima Prefecture.

Fukuoka, Japan.

^ from: - Fukuoka, Japan can be found on the island of Kyushu.

Fukuoka is on the northwestern corner of Kyushu island. Its combination of traditional Japan and modern Japan is wonderful. The key attraction for me to this city is Fukuoka Tower.

A fun fact about Fukuoka is that it was where one of my all-time favorite Japanese pop artists was born- Misaki Ito (better known as MISIA). My favorite songs of hers include: Everything, Into the Light, Koi Suru Kisetsu, Snow Song, and Chiisana Koi among others. Definitely worth listening to if you've never heard of MISIA's music. Do NOT confuse her with another Misia that sings Spanish music.

Kyoto, Japan.

^ from: - Many people jokingly say to rearrange the letters in "Tokyo" to get "Kyoto." Kyoto, though, is a MUCH smaller city than Tokyo.

The common deal people say is to switch around the letters in "Tokyo" to get "Kyoto." I tend to best know Kyoto for the Temple of the Golden Pavillion. There are lots of beautiful natural sights and surroundings in Kyoto. Either it was Kobe or Kyoto, but some have told me that Kyoto isn't really special. I still think it's beautiful.

Takayama, Japan (also called Hida Takayama).

^ from: - Takayama is a Japanese city with classic Japanese beauty.

I was introduced to Takayama from a book called 501 Must-Visit Cities. And no, Houston was NOT included in this book. Boo! Anyhow, the surroundings are beautiful and is in no way a truly modern city. It's more of a traditional Japanese village. From what I've read, I read this city is in a high altitude and can get miserably cold in the Winter. The sights are purely breathtaking.

Nagano, Japan.

Nagano Temple
^ from: - Nagano Temple in Nagano, Japan.

The city of Nagano played host to the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. I best know Nagano for the beautiful Zenko-Ji temple. The snowy mountains make for a very serene setting for this city.

Chiba, Japan.

no picture to share. :(

Chiba bears a little significance to me because Chiba is a sister city of Houston. Chiba is very much modern with modern buildings and a monorail. The sights of this city are very lovely.

OFF-TOPIC: Learn of Houston's other Sister Cities by visiting this link: Sister Cities of Houston

Tottori, Japan.

^ from:, by way of - Tottori, Japan

Tottori is best known for the huge sand dunes there. I saw a YouTube video once showing off how massive these sand dunes are in Tottori. Crazy place.

Hakodate, Japan.

^ from: - Hakodate, Japan.

Hakodate is a seaside city on the southwestern tip of Hokkaido Island. The combination of the water view and the city buildings make for a beautiful sight from the air. It is really a scenic place. One thing I didn't know about Hakodate is that it is connected to a long railway tunnel connecting it to Aomori Prefecture, on the northernmost fringes of Honshu Island.

Sapporo, Japan.

^ from: - Hokkaido Island's largest city is Sapporo.

Finally, I mention the lovely city of Sapporo. This city has a combination of mountains in the background and a real modern and serene city. It's described by some people as a getaway from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. The city is very serene and quiet. It's famous for snow sculptures in the colder times. Hokkaido Island is also famous as the birthplace of Japanese beer.

These are as many locales I love. And if you notice, I didn't mention a single city for a race track (except Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan). That's because most of those are cities I am not familiar with. If I'm not familiar with something, I don't mention it. Perhaps you have some favorite Japanese cities I didn't mention? Feel free to comment away! Thanks for reading, everyone!

Thank you for reading!

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