Japan’s odd attractions
There are many things to do once you visit Japan, and besides the traditional places like ancient temples and manicured gardens with cherry blossoms, there are other, odder attractions that have been capturing the hearts of tourists and locals alike. In every nook and cranny of Japan, you’re bound to find something you’d never see anywhere else in the world.
For example, a few years ago a unique parking spot in Tokyo went viral on the Internet. It was a one-car parking lot with its own vending machine, security camera, and ticketing booth and you can see lots of them in Tokyo, jammed in between office buildings and apartment houses.
Most of the parking lots in Japan are technologically advanced, fully automated and require no human presence. Most impressive are the ones that stack the cars on top of each other and those that hold the cars in a sort of rotating Ferris wheel to make use of space more practically. The latter had been the inspiration for some of the car parks shortlisted in the 2013 World’s Coolest Car Parks – an award that Parking4less likened to be “the Parking Oscars”. This one-car parking lot, weirdly odd and convenient at the same time is a true testament not just to Japan’s ingenuity, but to their practicality as well.
If you’re looking for attractions that you’ll never see in any other part of the world, you may want to check out the following:
1. Nakagin Capsule Tower
Showcasing Japan’s love of experimentation and mixing functionality with fun, Nakagin Capsule Tower is one of the most recognizable structures in the country. It was designed by Kisho Kurokawa in 1972 and was meant “to establish a space for the individual as a criticism to Japan that modernized without undergoing any establishment of a “self”. A few years back, there was an architectural exhibition in Mori Art Museum where you could see the interior design of these capsules. I think Nakagin tower could have been what inspired Jesus Salinas when he opened his one room trailer hotel Caravan at Midori.so 2 in Aoyama which is by far the coolest, most creative place you can find in Tokyo.
2. Sougenji or Kappa-Dera Temple
As with any other country in the world, Japan has its own share of myths and mystical beings. The Kappa is one such creature – a water goblin that resembles a turtle walking on two legs, with an indentation on its head that has to be filled with water at all times if it wants to stay alive. An important part of Japanese culture, the Kappa has been given its own shrine, called the Sougenji or Kappa-Dera Temple, and the temple supposedly houses petrified parts of an actual Kappa. It’s also known as one of Tokyo’s most haunted places. And if you are really into haunted, Japan offers some of the most dramatic, painfully beautiful ruins from abandoned factories to apartment buildings right in the heart of Harajuku, to really spooky hospitals in the outskirts of the city and that’s just Tokyo. Think of the golden mine that is Gunkanjima island. My friend Adeyto went there a few years back and shot this rare video.
3. Pasona O2
Japan is a country that finds itself at the forefront of technological advancement, yet still relying heavily on its agricultural industry. With agriculture and farming at its core, Tokyo shelters a hidden jewel: the Pasona O2, an underground urban farm that continues to inspire others around the world. Found in the vaults of an abandoned bank, the farm stretches out beneath Tokyo’s streets, growing everything from herbs to flowers using the latest technology.
4. Robot restaurant
By far, the most bizzare place I am yet to stumble upon in Japan. If you are into psychedelic semi-nude girls riding unicorns and giant para-para dancing robots, this is a place for you. I have no words to describe it. It is no doubt a tourist trap but the one you are happy to be caught in because it offers a lot of weird surprises that make you laugh and forget the boundaries of normal. If you want to get high without getting high, head to the Robot restaurant. ^-^
Japan has always had an interesting culture with its unique balance of the traditional and the modern. It’s little oddities will never bore you and make you visit the country over and over again. If you know any other wonderfully weird places, leave your comments!!