Katsuren Castle Ruins sit dramatically on a hill with amazing views over the (today upbuilt) eastern coast and islands of Okinawa. The ruins are part of
Okinawa's UNESCO enlisted Ryukyu sites, which mostly include other castles from the Gusuku period (12th-15th century). The small Katsuren Castle Ruins are like most of the other Ryukyu ruins with just the stonewalls restored. The castle was constructed in 13th-14th century with beautiful views of the sea from two sides, which can still be enjoyed today.
Kazurabashi Bridge is constructed of mountain vines, just like bridges used to be in the past, although this one has been reinforced with hidden steel cables. It's probably the biggest attraction in Iya Valley, so expect to stand in line with japanese tour groups to cross it. The bridge spans 45 m and the gaps between the narrow wooden steps gives a nerveracking view of the raging river below.
The historical quarter of Kurashiki (called Bikan) is very photogenic with lanes lined with traditional rice storehouses. Particularly along the canals, where rowboats with tourists navigate the narrow waterway under the shady willows. Today the impeccable white-walled and black-tiled houses are occupied by boutiques, craft shops and denim stores. Kurashiki is a popular destination for domestic tourists, while most foreign visitors seem to stick to better known cities.
Kyoto was home for the imperial family for more than a millennium and was spared bombing during WWII. So today, the city has 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, besides over a thousand of other temples, shrines, and gardens. So it's understandable that Kyoto is on every tourist's itinerary. The historical quarter, Gion, where geishas used to rush through the lanes, has become very touristic, but is still very charming with kimono-clad tourists strolling around. The famous food market, Nishiki, is equally popular with stalls offering local delicacies like stuffed octopus. So there is so much to see and do in Kyoto, that it will take weeks to cover it all. However, most visitors get templed-out after a couple of packed sightseeing days. Move on (or use Kyoto as a base) to explore other parts of Japan.
Japan is infamous for many weird cultural things, and one of them are the Love Dolls. Full size silicone sex dolls for the lonely man. The cheaper ones are not very convincing, but the more expensive ones are true masterpieces. You can of course customize your doll so the proportions and features fits your wettest dream. Sex shop also sells different scents you can spray on your love doll depending on your fetish. Some of the popular ones are "stockings smell of beautiful leg office lady" and "stained panties of school girls".
Matsuyama Castle is another fine example of a shogun castle. It was constructed in the early 17th century on a steep hill, which today grants it panoramic views over Matsuyama city in all directions. The original five story castle got hit by lightning and burned down in 1784. The current three story castle was built in the early 19th to replace it. The well-kept castle is particularly known for its precise stonework on the foundation. The inside offers more amazing views over the city and some displays with samurai swords and armors. It's interesting to see how small they must have been during the Edo period.
As the castle grounds are home to hundreds of cherry trees, it's a popular cherry blossom spot.
The volcano Fujisan is the icon of Japan and something you have to at least see, but even better hike. Its symmetrical cone is easily visible from Tokyo on a clear day and it's only getting more impressive the closer you get. The trek to the summit is fairly easy (though cold) and there are huts and tea houses along the routes that are open in the season (1st July to 27th August). It's probably the most trekked mountain in the world with more than 200,000 trekkers per year, but it only adds to the pilgrim experience to do it in crowds.
The ruins of Nakagusuku Castle (built in the early 15th century) are another of Okinawa's UNESCO enlisted Ryukyu sites. It's perched on a hilltop and the curved lines of the stonewalls follows the natural rocks neatly. But the biggest attraction isn't the location, it's the overgrown state. Like many of the other castle ruins on Okinawa, only the stonewalls stand, but here plants and palm trees have had a chance to grow to give the ruins a wild feel. Cobbled pathways lead to new corners and a walk up on the walls will constantly offer new vantage points of the castle ruins. Nakagusuku certainly has a feel of lost world, which the other more manicured Ryukyu castle sites lack.
Okinawa has several castle ruins, which are united as one UNESCO World Heritage Site. They date back to the Gusuku period (12th-15th century), when Okinawa was ruled by three kingdoms. Nakijin Castle was built in the late 1200s and were the castle for the northern kingdom, Hokuzan. In 1416 the Hokuzan Kingdom was invaded by the middle kingdom, Chuzan, which then went on to unify Okinawa in 1429, as part of the newly established Ryukyu Kingdom.
Today the castle ruin is known for its rebuilt outer stonewalls, which gives a good picture of how big the castle actually has been, but the rest is left to the imagination. It's surrounded by lush forest and with splendid views the northern part of Okinawa and the East China Sea.
Nara is famous for its gigant Buddha and UNESCO World Heritage enlisted temple Kasuga Taisha, but most visitors have more fun with the huge population of deers, which roam free in the park. You can feed them with special deer crackers, which are sold everywhere in the park. In return the deers have learned a few tricks, like bowing (like you would do in a temple). Though the deers mostly are super calm, also around small children, they can get a bit pushy, if they feel cheated or you hide some crackers for them. So always be alert.