#6 best destination in the world

Meiji Shrine

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  • Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken

Minato Mirai 21

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  • Central business district of Yokohama
  • Initially developed in the 1980s, it was designed as a large master-planned development and new urban center planned to connect Yokohama’s traditionally important areas and commercial centers of Kannai and the Yokohama Station area
  • Today, Minato Mirai is a major center for business, shopping, and tourism, attracting visitors and businesspersons throughout the Greater Tokyo Area
  • The area continues to be developed as originally envisioned in the 1980s

Ghibli Museum

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  • Museum that combines features of a children’s museum, technology museum, and a fine arts museum, and is dedicated to the art and technique of animation
  • Some features include a replica of the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro, a café, bookstore, rooftop garden, and a theater for exclusive short films

Hitachi Seaside Park

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  • Pubic park featuring blooming flowers year round
  • Known for its 4.5 million baby blue-eyes flowers in spring
  • Contains a million daffodils

Tashirojima

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  • Inhabited small island, in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, although the population is quite small (around 100 people, compared to around 1000 people in the 1950s).
  • It has become known as “Cat Island” due to the large stray cat population that thrives as a result of the local belief that feeding cats will bring wealth and good fortune
  • The cat population is now larger than the human population on the island
  • There are no pet dogs on the island due to the large cat population
  • Since 83% of the population is classified as elderly, the island’s villages have been designated as a “terminal village,” which means that with 50% or more of the population being over 65 years of age, the survival of the village is threatened
  • The majority of the people who live on the island are involved either in fishing or hospitality

Jigokudani Monkey Park

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  • Steam and boiling water bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests
  • Famous for its large population of wild Japanese macaque, more commonly referred to as snow monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter, foraging elsewhere in the national park during the warmer months

Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

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  • Toyota started as a textile firm and evolved over decades into an international automobile producer
  • Established in 1994, the museum is housed in an old red-brick textile factory
  • Its display starts with textile looms and then gradually goes over into the history of cars
  • Also featured are high-tech robots

Nara Park

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  • Public park at the foot of Mount Wakakusa
  • Established in 1880, it is one of the oldest parks in Japan
  • Over 1,200 wild sika deer freely roaming around in the park are under designation of MEXT, classified as natural treasure
  • The park is home to the Nara National Museum and Todai-ji, where the largest wooden building in the world houses a 50 ft tall statue of Buddha

Hōryū-ji

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  • Buddhist temple that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples
  • Completed in 607
  • One of the oldest wooden buildings in the world
  • In 2001, study of the central wooden column concluded the building to be a century older than previously thought
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

Okunoin Temple

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  • #5 of the oldest cemeteries in the world
  • Mausoleum and the largest cemetery in Japan with 200,000 tombstones
  • The legend is that Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, instead of dying, rests in the mausoleum resting in eternal meditation
  • Popular pilgrimage spot including prominent monks and feudal lords

Universal Studios Japan

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  • One of six Universal Studios theme parks, owned and operated by NBCUniversal
  • Opened in 2001
  • Over 11 million guests visited the park in its opening year, making it the world’s fastest amusement park to have achieved the 10 million milestone at the time
  • In 2014, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a themed area based on the blockbuster Harry Potter film series, opened to the public
  • Ranked fifth among the top 25 amusement/theme parks worldwide
  • #22 of the top 25 amusement parks in the world

Fushimi Inari-taisha

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  • Shrine dedicated to the god Inari, god of rice but traditionally worshipped as the patron of business
  • #24 of the top 25 landmarks in the world
  • Includes trails up a mountain which takes 2 hours to walk
  • Founded in 711

Sagano Bamboo Forest

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  • Natural forest of bamboo in Arashiyama, the forest consists of several pathways for tourists and visitors
  • The Ministry of the Environment considers it a part of the soundscape of Japan

Himeji Castle

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  • Hilltop castle and finest surviving example of Japanese castle architecture
  • Comprises 83 buildings with advanced defense from the feudal period
  • Built in 1333 and started as a fort
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

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  • The ruin of this hall serves as a memorial to the over 140,000 people who were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945
  • The dome building was primarily used for arts and educational exhibitions
  • On 6 August 1945, the first atomic bomb to be used in war was dropped by the United States Army Air Forces from the Enola Gay, a B-29 bomber
  • The force of the atomic bomb effectively obliterated the city of Hiroshima, Japan
  • The first target city chosen was Hiroshima, which had an important port on southern Honshu and was headquarters of the Japanese Second General Army with 40,000 military personnel in the city
  • The bomb, code named “Little Boy”, possessed a force equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT
  • Within 43 seconds of being dropped, it detonated over the city, missing its target by 790 ft
  • Intended for the Aioi Bridge, the bomb instead exploded directly over the Shima Hospital, which was very near to the Genbaku Dome
  • Because the explosion was almost directly overhead, the building was able to retain its shape
  • The building’s vertical columns were able to resist the nearly vertical downward force of the blast, and parts of the concrete and brick outer walls remained intact
  • The building’s durability can also be attributed to its earthquake-resistant design: indeed, it had held up to earthquakes, before and since the bombing

Itsukushima Shrine

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  • Shinto shrine on an island best known for its seemingly floating gate
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

Wisteria Flower Tunnel, Kawachi Fuji Garden

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  • 150 Wisteria plants climbing a trellis in the shape of a colorful tunnel

Costs

Number of Days: 21 days

Best Time To Fly: early March to mid-March, mid-May to late May, Sept-Nov

Airline tickets: $1,096

Seattle -> Tokyo (round trip) = $975
Kitakushu -> Seattle (one way) = $121

Food: $24/day x 21 days = $504

Metro/bus pass: $894

Entertainment: $138

Airbnb: $95/day x 19 days = $1,805

TOTAL: $4,437