Japan – a country of paradoxes

Arriving in Japan left me starry-eyed with wonderment of everything that surrounded me. I thought I knew what to expect coming to Japan as it had been on the top of my bucket list for years. My fascination with Japan had actually started in my childhood, with me being one of the biggest fans of the Manga series Attack No. 1 or Mila Superstar in German.

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A traditional shop in Tokyo
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Shitenno-Ji temple in Osaka
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A girl wearing a kimono in ancient Kyoto

If you ever get the chance to visit Japan, be prepared to be utterly mesmerized by the country’s diversity, culture and of course, craziness. The impression that still lingers in my head is that Japan truly is a country of paradoxes. The major cities exemplify craziness in its utmost form – imagine 35 million people living in the area of Tokyo, subway stations with up to¬†40 exits and gazing out of the windows on top of a skyscraper in Tokyo, desperately trying to make out the borders of the city but failing entirely. Even though the city is so big in size, they still seems to fail to fit all people inside – I have never seen a city that has as many flyovers and streets stacked on top of one another.

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The flyovers of Tokyo
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View from the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka
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Tokyo tower and the headquarters of the Asahi brewery
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View from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices

And then there’s pure calmness, a soothing atmosphere of tranquility and a culture that goes far back in history but is still excessively celebrated today. Whenever you decide to leave the Japanese mega-cities to go visit the countryside or one of the myriad buddhist temples or shinto shrines, this is the aura you will encounter. Suddenly there are no sounds blasting out of shops bursting with colourful items on display, no shop owner is shouting the newest promotional deals across the street and instead of the forest of neon signs, you find yourself in an actual forest with wild deer prancing around you.

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The imperial palace in Kyoto
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Wild deer in Nara
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Scenery in Nikko
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Witnessing a wedding procession in Nikko
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Gateway to the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko

Visiting Japan made me realize yet again that travel is knowledge. The more you see, the more you know you haven’t seen. (Mark Hertsgaard)

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Japanese Garden in Kyoto

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