Old versus New - ways to embrace the traditional AND the modern in Japan

Japan is a land of beauty and wonder, as well as being a land of contrasts - it's a country where it's not uncommon to see a shrine or temple situated right next door to a multi-storey apartment complex or office building. There's something beautiful about the mix of modernity and tradition, and your vacation can allow you to experience both. Here are just five ways that Japan will allow you to embrace both the old and the new on your trip, if you choose to!

For park life


Ueno Park in Tokyo has been around since 1873 - and the park was built on the former grounds of the Kaneiji Temple, which was one of Tokyo's biggest. These days, the park still houses several temples and shrines that will give you that traditional start to your travels in Japan. As well as those temples and shrines, the park also has a zoo, and several museums - it makes for a full day of exploring!

Ueno Park's Toshogu Shrine. PC: Flickr User Toma.Marinov


Any one of Japan's theme parks makes for a fun spot to embrace modern "park" life! Whether it's Tokyo Disneyland or Disney Sea, Universal Studios Japan, or perhaps Fuji Q Highlands (it can give you a killer view of Mt. Fuji on a clear day!) they are a really enjoyable way to spend some time here.

For shopping


Older style shopping streets are full of charm and history. Kawagoe is a town not too far from Tokyo (it makes an excellent day trip!) and it has several streets that are still in that Edo period style. You can find all manner of things in the stores there - from sweets and snacks, to clothing, to traditional wares. You'll find these kinds of shopping streets in a number of places across Japan, and they are wonderful for providing you with that 'step back in time' feeling.


Japan has many large malls to check out, but one of the most well known has to be Shibuya 109. It's an iconic building on the Shibuya skyline, and heading inside will give you sensory overload in just about every way possible. It's loud, it's bright, it's full of quirky Japanese fashion - and even if you're not planning to buy anything there it's still worth a look. 

For sweets


Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets that you'll often see served up with tea - and they're as beautiful as they are delicious. The craftsmanship behind them is amazing - one of my favorite spots in Tokyo to head to is called Tokyo Mise, where you can watch them being made and then enjoy some of your choosing. They really are little works of art! 

via https://www.instagram.com/p/BLWDlyCDrQw


A store has just opened recently in Harajuku called Kanazawa Ice. Now you might be saying "what's so modern about ice cream? Preeeetty sure that's been around just about forever!" but the whole deal behind Kanazawa Ice is that their ice cream has been engineered not to melt. You can apparently take to it with a hair dryer and it still won't succumb to the temperature. Pretty neat with some of these super warm and humid summer days we have been experiencing lately. One of the cutest things about Kanazawa Ice is that you can decorate your ice cream too - go ahead and personalize it however you want!

via https://www.instagram.com/p/BWpBUWyl88S

For stellar views


Kiyomizudera in Kyoto has been around since 780, and will give you some spectacular views over Kyoto. It's a beautiful spot to visit no matter the season - the changing landscapes depending on the time of year make it a real sight to behold. The temple opens at 6am daily, and I think getting there early is the best time to go. You avoid some of the crowds that start rolling in as the day goes along, and it provides a much more tranquil experience.


Tokyo Skytree was completed in 2012, and is the second tallest structure in the entire world (only beaten by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai). If you want to get a feel for just how far Tokyo goes on (and on...and on!) for, this is your spot. It's an impressive structure to see from the outside, too - you'll likely be craning your neck to see it all. It definitely shows how mind blowing modern architecture can be. For ticketing details and opening hours, check out their website at the link here. 

For Godzilla


Maybe not quite Godzilla, but a T-Rex - if you're into history and science a must see is the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo's Ueno Park. They have all manner of displays, from this section with dinosaurs in their Evolution of Life section, to some of the wonders of innovation in the Human Design and Creativity area. Adult admission to the museum is 620 yen, but I think it's worth every bit of the fee. More information about the museum opening hours and how to get there can be found on their website.


Godzilla on the Shinjuku Skyline screams modern - especially with all the buildings and neon signs lit up if you visit at night! There is loads to check out in the general Shinjuku area - here are some suggestions if you're looking at ways to round out a day there. 

PC: Flickr User unknownlabel

There are so many sides of Japan where you can explore both the traditional and the modern - and both facets add so much to your travels in this incredible country.

Enjoy Japan, and Safe Travels!

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