Country Spotlight: Japan

Japan is a vibrant country that encapsulates the hustle and bustle, a futuristic getaway of shimmering skyscrapers and neon lights, yet you would be surprised at the rich history the place holds.

If you are looking for a modern experience of Japan, the Tokyo Skytree is where you want to head to. At 2,080 feet in height, the tower is the tallest in the world! It is one of the main tourist attractions in Tokyo and is a notable sightseeing destination. An appalling spot where you overlook a sea of buildings, intersections, and mini men. There are transparent floors where you are able to experience the fright of height. I remember looking between my shoes and finding a fog of whiteness beneath. It was a daring experience but it was a challenge worth taking up.

The Nezu Shrine, a hidden gem in the city, is located in Shitamachi, an underrated Tokyo town that explores the nostalgic aspects of the city. Similar to Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine, the Nezu Shrine stands majestically in the woods, overgrowing trees hug its body, and distinct shades of green are met with its red pillars painted in golden calligraphy. Located next to a picturesque hillside, the architecture transposes you into a realm of tradition and away from the modern. When I was there, I thought the concrete and nature seemed to merge into a single entity. There was nothing abnormal about it, it was as if the urban was speaking with the rural, and the dialogue echoed between the gray, red, gold, and green.

Beyond the casting shadow of the shrine, torii gates shine through in vermilion hues. These gates were built one after another, forming a domino deck that stretches in endless bright red and orange. Each gate is decorated with ink letters, marking sacred symbols and religious significance. Once you step into these gates, each torii complements and connects another, and its beautiful historical structure embraces your existence. The contemporary Tokyo Skytree and the ancient shrines are symbols of Japanese cultural development. Japan is more than a place of modernity ⸺ it is a place of history and time, only if you really look for it.

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Melody Chan

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January 2022
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