I have wanted to visit Japan for a very long time. I may never get there, but I’m still going to tell you why you should visit Japan and a few specific highlights.
The US and Japan have had an interesting exchange of culture over the past years. In a lot of ways, we are both obsessed with each other’s pop culture. Japan loves our movies and music, and we have huge cons related to anime and jrpgs. I love Japan for a few different reasons. One of these is that they embrace geekdom far more than US mainstream culture. The Japanese otaku is a term that is used both within and outside of the community of obsessive fans about a variety of different fandoms. It can have a negative connotation about being unable to connect with reality, but Japan includes many news sources and advertising campaigns related to the otaku culture.
Speaking of the Otaku culture, on a visit to Japan I would definitely stop by the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka. That’s Miyazaki’s studio and has information on Studio Ghibli movies and animation in general. If you head out to Japan at the right point, you can check out the Tokyo International Anime Fair. You can also check out the Kyoto International Manga Museum.
My next favorite thing about Japan is Samurai. Japanese Samurai were military nobels that greatly inspired Japense philosophy, martial arts, and swordfighting. The traditional Samurai sword is the katana, the well-known curved blade yielded by characters such as the MacLoeds from Highlander and The Bride from Kill Bill.
A good place for some samurai artifacts is the Aoyagi Samurai Manor Museum, which was home to the Aoyagi family until 1985. The Tokyo Japanese Sword Museum is apparently the place to check out for katanas. You can also visit the Kakunodate district which is a historical area of samurai architecture.
I’m going to end with the main reason my particular household wants to visit Japan: Nintendo. Yup, I grew up it and so did my husband, and Shigeru Miyamoto is a common name to throw around in my home. Now, the official Nintendo building in Kyoto is closed to the public and there are no official tours, museums, etc., but you can still pilgrimage there to see it; I would. There are also Pokemon Centers around Japan to check out and if you want to play Nintendo games, you can go to the Nintendo GameFront at the Panasonic Center in Tokyo.
This is far from all of the geeky stuff in Japan, but I hope it was a selection of interesting things to consider checking out if you ever make it to the island community. If you do, don’t tell me, I’ll just be super-jealous.