Did you know that the English word rickshaw actually comes from the Japanese word ‘jinrikisha’ (human-powered-vehicle)? And there’s no better place to try one out than one of Tokyo’s traditional districts. Rickshaw runners ply their trade in the streets of Asakusa. On most tours, you’ll be able to take in both the old town scenery, including Sensoji Temple and views of the Sumida river, with the Tokyo Skytree looming in the background, but the rickshaw runners might be able to take a detour if you ask nicely.
Tokyo is a megalopolis that defies categorisation. From its dazzling skyscrapers with serene shrines at their bases to the tiny, multi-generation izakaya right next to a store selling the latest in technology or fashion, no other city can conjure up so many contradictory images as Japan’s capital. It’s an intoxicating and invigorating place, the energy of which is only matched by the calm of its backstreets and temples – no matter how long you spend in the city, you’ll need more time to take it all in.
And then there’s Okinawa. Less than three hours' flight from Tokyo, the tropical islands south of mainland Japan are known for having a unique culture, derived from their history as it was once an independent kingdom called Ryukyu Kingdom in the 15th-19th centuries. Offering much more than the stunning white sandy beaches and pristine blue waters, it’s also home to karate, lush mangroves, great diving spots, nutritious food, and laidback locals who know better than anyone what the secret to the good life is. Follow their lead, and you might not want to leave.
Combine the two destinations in one trip, and you have yourself the best of both worlds. Start off with eclectic metropolitan thrills, and then tune in to relaxed yet highly cultured island life: you’re sure to reach your happy spot along the way.
Got an epicurean bent? Find out about eating and drinking in Tokyo and Okinawa.
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