FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualified Team: Japan
Japan qualified for every World Cup since France 1998. They were unlucky to lose to Belgium in the round of 16 at Russia 2018 after leading the match 2-0. They hosted the World Cup jointly with South Korea in 2002 and finished 9th. They have never progressed to the quarter finals, but always demonstrate great potential. Premier League fans will be familiar with Takehiro Tomiyasu who turns out weekly for Arsenal. He made 4 appearances at Russia 2018 and will be Japan’s best defender at Qatar 2022. Pulling the strings for Japan at Qatar 2022 will be midfielder Daichi Kamada.
The official language of Japan is Japanese, but in Hokkaido the country’s second largest island, the native people speak Ainu.
A great place to kick off your tour in Japan would be Kyoto. Kyoto has so much to do that I would recommend at least a couple of days to enjoy this traditional Japanese city.
The treasure of Kyoto; Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine is located at the end of a walkway made up of many red traditional torii gates.
You can spend the whole day walking through the trails that surround the web of shrines. You have an incredible view of Kyoto when you reach the Yotsutsuji Intersection half way up the mountain.
In the early morning beat the crowds and tour the Kinkakuji Temple set on a lake. The temple was supposed to be a retirement home for a shogun. This temple is covered in gold leaf and the top floor is gilded in gold.
The tallest building in Kyoto is the Kyoto tower. Head to the top at sunset to enjoy panoramic views of the city stretching as far out as Osaka. At the platform visitors can use the telescopes and use the LED touch screens showing the important landmarks for Kyoto.
If you like animals, go see the Monkey Park in Iwatayama. To get to the park you must trek up Mount Arashiyama. The monkeys in the park are Japanese macaque monkey and number 130. Buy some nuts or apples and feed the monkeys yourself, but don’t touch them or make eye contact with them.
Tokyo is the embodiment of modern Japan. There is an area called Harajuku which is a great place to explore in Tokyo. You have high end stores on the main streets, but it’s also fun to get lost in the little side streets.
If you are with teenagers take them to Takeshita Street which has colourful clothes and accessories. Also, you will find stores which specialize in anime characters. Younger kids can enjoy a store called Kiddy Land and feed them at the Kawaii Monster Cafe.
To appreciate how much the Japanese love gaming go to the arcades of Ikebukuro. There are numerous claw machines where you can try your luck at grabbing a fluffy toy which makes for a great souvenir. Also, there are photo enhancing booths and animal cafes to enjoy around the arcades.
After all that fun you want to enjoy the best nature spot in Tokyo at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The park set on the river offers bridges, tree lined paths, and a stunning cherry blossom trees. When you want a rest from all the walking enjoy some traditional tea at the tea house.
For the Foodies
Tempura... Who doesn't love tempura? This dish can be deep fried vegetables or seafood in batter. In Tokyo they dip their tempura in sauce but in the Kyoto or Osaka region they dip in flavoured salt.
Udon is probably the most popular dish in Japan. This wheat flour noodle can be enjoyed hot or cold and with any toppings you can think of. Different parts of Japan have variations of the Udon noodle.
Miso soup is served with many traditional meals. It can be made using seafood stock or from kelp. Bean paste is also mixed with the stock. Seafood or meat can be added or it can be kept vegan by just adding vegetables or tofu.
Matcha is a must try green tea drink in Japan. It can be enjoyed as a latte or frappuccino in many cafes or Starbucks. It tastes sweet but also earthy.
The food doesn't disappoint is what I'm trying to get at!
I have a feeling that Japan will go far in this year's World Cup. What are your thoughts?