My interest in Japan was nurtured from childhood. I grew up eating Japanese food, watching Pokémon until bedtime, and even trying to learn languages when I was six. This is the first place I remember wanting to go, although I don’t know how far it is from home or what I need to get there. So once I had the freedom to travel extensively, it was one of the first destinations I visited – since then I have returned many times, even spending spent a few weeks in the Land of the Rising Sun in the three years before the pandemic.
Japan has been closed for more than two years, but from August the government is easing border restrictions to allow guests to explore the island nation with tour groups. While I long for the destination to fully open up and let me hop freely from city to city once again with my JR Pass in hand, now is the right time to reflect on some of the truly incredible moments I’ve experienced over the years. From meeting hospitable locals to learning about ancient customs, there’s a lot to explore in this eclectic country.
Here are some of my favorite experiences — and how to have a similar experience.
Female freedivers are called ama