With travel not being possible for of us at the moment, it’s a good time to think about your travel choices. It’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s “top 10” or “must see” list when you’re planning a trip. So many influencers and travel articles promise inside knowledge which may be based on a short trip, and possibly complimentary tickets. Placing too much trust in a few sources may mean you overlook sights and experiences that you would find really interesting.
It’s also likely that once travel resumes again after the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, how we travel will be different. Initially there may still be some border restrictions and less choice of flights. Some tourist attractions may have closed for good, or be operating differently. Travel will become more intentional, as people consider carefully whether to go somewhere, and why they want to go there. This fits in with what I wrote about in Japan Just for You and in various blog posts here.
Your personal interests, tastes and preferences
Planning your dream trip should ideally start with identifying your personal interests, tastes, and preferences. This will help you choose an itinerary that makes your trip personal and memorable. I’ll illustrate this by talking about a trip that I did a couple of years ago, with a bit more detail on why I visited Korakuen garden in Okayama, seen in the photo above.
I’m really interested in history, tradition, culture and art, and I like beautiful places and sights. On a previous visit to Tokyo, I’d seen a wonderful exhibition from the Ohara Museum in Kurashiki. This made me think about visiting the museum itself so I did a bit of research. Once I found out more about Kurashiki, I could see that it fitted in well with my interests. It was also close to Okayama, and I’d long wanted to visit Korakuen garden, having already visited Kenrokuen and Kairakuen, the other two great gardens in Japan.
Kurashiki lived up to my expectations. I spent several hours exploring all sections of the Ohara Museum, and several more hours exploring Kurashiki’s historic quarter.
The next day I went to Okayama to visit Korakuen. It is not only a lovely landscape garden, but it also has small rice and tea fields, showing how these crops are grown. This really appealed to my interest in tradition. As it was autumn, there was a chrysanthemum festival with some spectacular flowers on display.
What I loved most about Korakuen was Enyo-tei House. This was originally built 300 years ago by the local lord as a place to entertain guests and admire the view of the gardens. The current building is a faithful replica of the original which was destroyed by fire during World War II. The photo above is the view from Enyo-tei House, a beautiful view which has remained the same for 300 years and shows none of the modern city beyond the garden walls. Although Korakuen has other vantage points, this is the best as the garden was designed to be seen from Enyo-tei House.
The two days I spent in Kurashiki suited my personal interests well, and I will be returning to explore more of the area. When I look at photos from my stay there, good memories come flooding back. This is what ideally you should experience from your trip.
What to do on your next trip
While I loved Korakuen, I wouldn’t insist that it’s a “must see” for everyone. If you are interested in nightlife or technology or active outdoor pursuits, then there are far more suitable options for you. What I would like you to take away from this blog post is that you are the best person to decide what you must do on your holidays. Certainly consider advice from other people, but consider it as a suggestion rather than an obligation. Find sights and experiences that will make you happy, and visit these.
Do you have any questions about travelling around Japan? Please feel free to contact me.
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For further information, the ebook Japan Just for You is a practical step-by-step guide to planning your trip to Japan, starting with developing your own personal trip concept. It’s now available on Apple, Amazon and Kobo, and other stores.