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The HHWT Team Shares Their Favourite Travel Stories About Japan


Faruq Senin •  Apr 09, 2020


Japan is one place we can never get tired of ? With an endless list of picturesque scenery, amazing culture, Muslim-friendly Japanese cuisine, efficient public transportation and more, Japan ticks all our boxes for an awesome vacation. Credit: Giphy Although the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been postponed to next year and visiting Japan seems to be off the cards due to the current COVID-19 situation, we're still dreaming about our next trip. So, we've decided to fuel our wanderlust for Japan the only way we know how: by sharing our favourite travel stories of Japan in hopes that they'll inspire you once the time is right for travel ❤️ So take a break from your #StayHome routine for a bit and let us bring you on this mental vacation around Japan! P.S. Looking for a fun activity to do while you're home? Time to organise your travel souvenirs and mementos with these 8 tips!
Going marine walking in Okinawa
"I had visited Okinawa late last year, sometime in early November. When I got there, I was just amazed by what a different side of Japan it represents. The tropical scenery, its laid-back vibe and its culture which dates back to the Ryukyu Kingdom all make it stand apart from the cities on the main island. My favourite part of the trip was going marine walking in Onna - I had heard of this activity (where you walk underwater while wearing a special helmet that lets you breathe normally) but had no idea what to expect. I thought the helmet would have an airtight mechanism, but actually, the helmet just sits on your shoulders, with air continuously pumped through it that keeps the water out. We had to wear weighted belts too, to make sure we wouldn’t just float to the surface! It felt surreal to be able to walk along the sea bed and get up close to the fishes. The water was super clear and with the sun shining through, it was beautiful ? No trip to Okinawa is complete without enjoying its beautiful waters, and while I love snorkelling, I’m glad that they have this activity which helps those who may not swim enjoy the ocean too!" -Atiqah
A magical adventure at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea
"Disney was a big part of my childhood growing up. I’d watch all the films, belt every song into the showerhead and even recite some of their most iconic lines. So, you can just imagine my excitement when I got the chance to visit Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea with my family back in late 2013. Seeing the different characters walk around and hearing music from the classic Disney movies fill the air was truly nostalgic. It felt like I was living my childhood all over again, but only better! With fun street performances, cool souvenir stores and larger-than-life parades, every corner had something exciting to be found and although we dedicated three full days to cover both theme parks, there was still so much left to see. Though it’s been seven years since then, the experience still remains vivid in my memory and hopefully one day, I’ll get another chance to visit this magical place again." -Ili P.S. Can't travel to Japan now? No problem! Here are 7 live streams and webcams of famous attractions in Japan so you can travel from your couch!
Taking wedding photos with cherry blossoms at Chidorigafuchi Park
"I visited Tokyo for my wedding shoot because we really wanted to have our photos taken during the cherry blossom season. The cherry blossom period is one of the peak periods in Japan so we booked our tickets and accommodation 4 months in advance. The bloom forecast wasn’t confirmed then too so we were praying hard that we would arrive during the full bloom and Alhamdullilah, we were so lucky! It was our first time seeing cherry blossoms and it was every bit as magical as it looks in photos. The sea of pale pink petals, families and loved ones huddled under the trees for a hanami picnic (hanami picnics are serious business in Japan!) and the locals attending the cherry blossom festival. I remember being so grateful to be there and just observing how the locals celebrate this beautiful season.
We visited quite a few spots to catch the blooms - Shinjuku Gyoen, Yoyogi Park, Asakusa, Ueno, Meguro but the one spot that made me (sorry I’m the real mastermind behind the location of our wedding shoot) decide we should have this shoot in the first place was Chidorigafuchi. I saw a photo of a guy who proposed on a boat under the cherry blossom trees and I hunted down the location because I thought that it looked so perfect and romantic! Our photos turned out great, like what we wanted but what’s funny is that the behind-the-scenes of this photo was far from calm. Our photographer had to tell us where to row the boat so that he could get enough cherry blossoms in view, we had to turn the boat so that it was angled well and the fact that it was not easy at all to row the boat! I admit, I was trying to urge Mikhail to row “properly” and not to splash water on me but when I tried it for myself, I understood ? If anyone’s thinking of a seasonal experience in Japan, I’d definitely recommend the cherry blossom season!" -Suzana
Witnessing the glory of Mt Fuji and experiencing the warmth of locals
"Visiting Mt Fuji (and its surrounds) will always be my favourite travel memory of Japan. When I visited the Mt Fuji 5th station in November 2018, there were no clouds covering the peak of Mt Fuji and I had an unobstructed view. It felt so surreal to be that close to the majestic mountain and the feeling was indescribable. All I was reminded of at that moment was the beauty of Allah's creations. I remember feeling so lucky and thankful to be able to witness this magical sight ?
During my previous trip there, I also stayed overnight at a small guesthouse called Fujiyama Base (near Fujisan station) and that was when I experienced the hospitality of the locals. Even though my host, a warm and nice old Japanese lady, couldn't communicate in English, she made the effort to use Google Translate and made sure that my friends and I had everything we needed. She even tried to hold a conversation with us, asking us if we had enjoyed our time in Mt Fuji. Before we left, she gave us postcards and mementos of Mt Fuji as a parting gift, as well as a brooch to my friend! This experience definitely showed me that a language barrier shouldn't stop you from making connections with people from other cultures." -Faruq P.S. Interested to visit Mt Fuji and Hakone? Check out our 7 Muslim-friendly tips!
A magical experience at Universal Studios Japan
"I love Japanese manga (and anime) and Harry Potter so when I went to Japan with my cousins in 2017, we made sure we visited Universal Studios Japan (USJ)! We didn't get the express pass as it was expensive for us students so we had to wait for 3 hours in the cold for the Harry Potter ride but it was so worth it. While we were queuing, the theme park's actors came up at random points to help keep our excitement up ? But what made our experience memorable was savouring Butterbeer (non-alcoholic) - we had both the hot and cold versions and it was super yummy and creamy ? Definitely a great drink to have in cold weather for a quick break before running off to other attractions!" -Amirah P.S. Plan for your future trip to Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto with our 10D9N Muslim-friendly Japan itinerary!
Experiencing the beauty of Shinjuku Gyoen
"No matter where I go, one of the places I must visit are a city’s gardens or wildlife parks. Seeing new flowers and plants that I don’t get to see at home always gives me the feeling of ‘I’m really in a new place’! I was there in December 2018 with my family - we’d just arrived in Tokyo after taking the shinkansen from Kyoto and checking into our Airbnb. Despite it being early winter, the sun was out so it was nice and bright with little pockets of warmth around! My sisters went off to snap photos, and I walked around with my parents. My mum is actually the person I got my love of flowers and wildlife from, so being able to walk around the park with her and take our time to marvel at the size of the trees and beauty of the flowers felt really idyllic. It was really a beautiful place, and I hope I can return one day during spring or autumn to see even more beautiful foliage bloom." -Shasha P.S. Wondering what to do in Shinjuku? Our Muslim-friendly Shinjuku guide will help you out!
Cosplaying as a samurai in Chiba
"While I loved seeing my friends dressing up in beautiful kimonos in Japan, I knew I wanted to try something different. When I went to Chiba last year, I had an unforgettable experience of cosplaying as a samurai at Boso no Mura, an open air-museum that resembles a traditional Japanese village during the Edo period! I was beyond ecstatic for this experience because back in the days, there were only male samurai in old Japan. This museum happens to be a famous movie set, so I took many photos around the village pretending like I'm a fearless heroine from a Japanese samurai movie. I was also given a plastic sword to play the part, which brought out the playful side in me. If I were to return to this place someday, I would cosplay as a ninja next!?
Gorgeous plum blossoms in Fukuoka
"Fukuoka has always been one of my favourite prefectures in the whole of Japan. This year, I managed to visit Dazaifu, a historical city in Fukuoka prefecture known for its beautiful plum blossoms with a few close friends of mine! Since it was a rare opportunity, we decided to rent a kimono to immerse ourselves in the traditional atmosphere. We had lots of fun strolling through the traditional path that led to the Kitano Tenmangu shrine - home to 6000 plum trees! The plum blossoms came in a wide range of colours, from white to pink which was really pretty! As a place that’s known for the plum blossoms, it comes as no surprise that their meibutsu (local speciality) has something to do with… plum! We managed to try a traditional snack called umegae mochi which is essentially a mochi shaped like a plum with red bean filling. Nothing feels better than trying out the local speciality while enjoying the sight of the beautiful plum blossoms with my good friends. The Kyushu National Museum is located really close to the shrine. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to visit the museum this time. I’d definitely visit the museum when I return to this lovely place in the future!?" -Gracia P.S. Check out this Muslim-friendly guide to Fukuoka to plan your future trip.
Uncovering an underrated theme park in Kyoto
"When I was planning my honeymoon trip back in the spring of 2018, I stumbled upon this place called Toei Kyoto Studio Park (just 15 minutes away from Arashiyama Bamboo Forest!) while doing some research about samurai attractions in Japan. There were not many reviews about this place at that time, so I decided to visit as I didn't know about this place during my first Kyoto trip back in 2016. Even most of my friends had never been there. Little did I know that it was a theme park and film set modelled after Japan's Edo period (1603-1868). I was so excited when I walked through the cinematic street and enjoyed the atmosphere of a live film studio. The whole area was a set for several local films and TV shows. There were so many things to see and do such as ninja performances, a ninja maze, a 360 degree 3D theatre, filming demonstrations, live samurai battles, and a haunted house that's claimed to be one of the scariest in Japan. Truth be told, it was the scariest haunted house I've ever been to and experiencing it with my wife made it more memorable as my wife loves going to haunted houses. You can also dress up as samurai, geisha and ninja as you explore the park and take some Insta-worthy photos. There is so much more to explore at this underrated theme park and I was so glad that I visited it!" -Mustaqim P.S. Here's a 3D2N Muslim-friendly itinerary to explore Kyoto's most iconic attractions! Hope our travel stories have got you inspired to dream about your future trips to Japan! While you can't travel right now, why not make a travel bucket list of places you want to go and things you want to do in Japan? Feel free to SHARE with us your favourite travel stories of Japan in the comments section too ?