Maximizing Your Sightseeing
Every country in the world has a major city that defines it's experience and tells the world what those in charge feel represents its essence; the US has NYC, Italy has Rome, and France has Paris. If you ask anyone of the country, though, they'll be quick to tell you that that city isn't the only awesome city there, as I would tell you about the open air sprawl of LA, the charming eccentricity of Portland, and the delightful beaches and culture clash to be found in Miami, among endless others within the country I call home.
Japan is no different and has the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, the brazen street cultures of Osaka, the peaceful beach sides of Okinawa, and the expansive mountainside scenery of Hokkaido. Each of them also contain several different cities and hidden pockets of humanity that paint a diverse, rich and ever growing network of cultures that drive the things they do every day. Naturally, though, unless you have boatloads of money and free time, you can't see all of that in one trip, so to get the gears turning on planning your most excellent vacation, let's take a quick peek at these potential destinations, starting with Tokyo.
Tokyo: The Crown Jewel of Japan
The city of Tokyo is the political center of the country, but over it's history, it and surrounding area has also grown into it's historical and modern cultural center, housing countless things flock to see from all over the world to see. Like what? Well, there's the TsujikiFish Market, the geek mecca of Akihabara, the Asakusa Shinto temple, the land of fashionable kids known as Harajuku, and more multi-level specialty stores than you can shake a stick at. In fact, it houses so many of these aspects that there have been multiple volumes dedicated to helping people navigate just this area of the country (If that isn't enough proof, consider this: on the trains there, the terms used to describe leaving Tokyo translate as ascending, for going north, and descending, for going south).
On top of that, the international profile it's built up drive tourists in from across the world, meaning that it's been made more and more easier for them to travel, and that will mean there's a higher chance someone will be able to help you out in case things go south and you need to speak with someone; for getting a taste of a brand new culture, this is surely a safe bet for your travel destination(if you're intrigued, might I recommend Frommer's Tokyo as your guidebook?).
With all that said, though, isn't the whole point of traveling to go outside your comfort zone and see things you haven't before? What, about eating burgers at a McDonald's in Tokyo is adventurous? What, about eating at a sushi place everyone goes to, screams “I'm a traveler!”? What, about spending your hard earned cash to be among familiar foods, people and so on on the other side of world, says “This was a good use of my money and vacation days”? Tokyo is a perfectly wonderful area to sight-see in, but c'mon now! If you really wanna expand your world view, think beyond the familiar; perhaps consider looking into visiting Osaka and its surrounding area.