Senior Travel in Japan

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Japan senior travel can be suited to all tastes and interests, but be aware that despite the large senior citizen population throughout the nation, much of Japan isn't as easily accessible for those with mobility issues. This is largely due to the technicalities of making things such as the crowded, fast and efficient public train system go slower to accommodate the disabled, and the fact that many of Japan's senior citizens are quite mobile themselves. However, if you're an active senior or are at least fairly mobile, you may enjoy either of the following activities:

Hot Springs

Hot springs are a popular weekend getaway destination for the Japanese and you can find many natural and man-made hot springs throughout the country. The hot springs in the more rural areas are especially breathtaking, as they're quite literally natural occurrences in the midst of picturesque foliage and along mountainsides. Some in the northern areas even have snow monkeys frequently mingle with the patrons!

Senior citizens in Japan especially love hot springs, as the warm waters have been known to soothe the symptoms associated with sore muscles, arthritis, joint pain, chronic skin conditions, diabetes, gout and constipation. Just be aware that these are public baths, most often separated by gender, but sometimes mixed-gender, in which you'll be bathing in the nude with other people. You will also be expected to wash yourself in a separate shower room before you enter the bath. Some foreigners wear bathing suits into the hot springs, but it is generally frowned upon.

Kashiya Yokocho (Candy Store Alley)

Seniors who remember the days of "penny candy" may appreciate the offerings of traditional Japanese candy shops in Kashiya Yokocho. These mom-and-pop-style stores and storefronts offer classical Japanese candy and confectioneries, such as taiyaki (fish-shaped cakes filled with red bean paste) and karinto (deep-fried cookies). The most popular ingredient is locally-grown sweet potatoes. You can find sweet potato ice cream, sweet potato chips, sweet potato beer and sweet potato coffee at the alley.

The dozen or so candy stores in Kashiya Yokocho are purposefully akin to stores that proliferated throughout Japan in the early 1950s; in fact, over 70 such candy shops used to be in the alley in the early 20th century. Seniors in Japan find the area nostalgic and even foreign senior travelers can appreciate the recreation of a simpler time.

Kashira Yokocho is in Saitama Prefecture and is easily reachable from Tokyo. Just take the Tobu Tojo Line from Ikebukuro Station to Kawagoe Station and you can hop on a bus to Kashiya Yokocho. The trip takes about an hour total. Most stores are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and many of the stores are closed on Mondays, so plan ahead.

February 19, 2010 change by schitti
February 09, 2010 new by amymc

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