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Japan has beautiful temples and gardens which are often surrounded by garish signs and ugly buildings.
The most acclaimed restaurant in the country, which costs hundreds of dollars for dinner, is a small shop located in a subway station seating less than a dozen people.
In the middle of modern skyscrapers you’ll discover sliding wooden doors which lead to traditional chambers with tatami mats, shoji screens, and calligraphy, suitable for traditional tea ceremonies.
These juxtapositions can seem perplexing or jarring to those used to the more uniform nature of European and North American cities, but if you let go, and accept the layered aesthetics, you’ll find interesting and surprising places throughout the country.
Japan has often been seen in the West as a land combining tradition and modernity, and many traditional structures and practices are preserved, but modern structures and practices definitely dominate your experience in Japan.
Japan was the first Asian country to independently modernize, and the country continues to embrace new technologies and aesthetics, but unlike in many countries, Japan does not feel a particular need to attack or remove older technologies, structures, or practices.
Japanese culture stretches back millennia, yet has also been quick to adopt and created the latest modern fashions and trends.