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Mount Fuji is ‘brown hill,’ A-Bomb Dome is ‘depressing': Whiners diss Japan’s wonders

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Everyone loves Japan’s coveted UNESCO World Heritage sites. They showcase the country’s beauty, history and culture.

But according to reviews on one of the Net’s most popular traveler-ranking sites, not every tourist is impressed with Japan’s most vaunted spots. One visitor blamed Mount Fuji for not looking like the pictures, while another tourist called the Hiroshima A-bomb Dome “a bunch of broken rocks.”

Let’s explore what some disgruntled travelers have to say about Japan’s most impressive World Heritage Sites.

1. Mount Fuji
Rating: Poor
Comment: Mt Fuji is nowhere near Tokyo, unless of course you’re comparing it with Beijing!

Really, Mount Fuji should be ashamed of its location. The mountain would be far more accessible if it were more central, preferably in downtown Tokyo.

Factually, Mount Fuji is 100 km from Tokyo (as opposed to 2,091 km from Beijing). The problem is not the mountain’s location, however (thank God, because moving it would take a long, long time). The problem is that it takes all day to get there by train if you’re a cheapskate and shun the bus tours that conveniently leave daily from Tokyo.

The commenter did note that for “quite a bit more” he could have taken a day trip by bus. Well, being a tightwad does have its price. I should know: I opted for the train the first time I went to Mount Fuji too.

But it turns out that taking a bus tour doesn’t necessarily solve all the problems with Mount Fuji. Read on.

Rating: Poor
Comment: We took an all day tour that drove us as far as the 5th station. When driving there we weren’t even sure it was Mt Fuji because we expected something bigger and more spectacular. There was hardly any snow on it and it just wasn’t pretty.

You’d think that with the capability to make snow these days, and it being the 21st century and all, that snow machines would be strategically placed on the peak, gracing it with the white stuff so that tourists could take photos — even in August, when this person visited.

For the record, Mount Fuji stands 3,776 meters tall (12,388 feet), the tallest mountain in Japan, so there really should be no mistake as to whether you’re on top of the volcano or not. And, I hate to break it to these people, but this looming subject of Hokusai’s “36 Views of Mount Fuji” is popular not because it is the biggest or necessarily the best mountain to hike in Japan — it’s popular for its spiritual meaning and iconography. A bit of homework, people!

Rating: Poor
Comment: Not as amazing as the pictures. Maybe it is because, I’m from Switzerland, but for me Mt. Fuji was a waste of time. I visited the mountain in October 2013, we were lucky to see the mountain at all, because the days before, it was always cloudy and the peak was not visible. . . . Mt. Fuji had no snow on it and therefore just looked like a brown hill, nothing compared to Swiss alps.

Interesting, because I’ve been to Switzerland and I thought their brown Swiss cows were just boring — small and plain — nothing compared to the Texas longhorns in the U.S., which sport a fascinating array of patterns on their hides as well as those super-long horns.

And, since it had been raining when I was in Switzerland, some of the cows looked like they may have been rolling in the mud. They definitely looked nothing like the professional photos you see on tourism marketing posters for Switzerland.

2. Todaiji Temple, historic monument of ancient Nara

Rating: Average
Comment: It was okay. The exterior of the temple gives you very nice shots but that’s about it. The souvenir shops were very average; the products look inferior.

It’s a small place. You could probably visit walking in 15-20 minutes inside the temple. I don’t think they should be charging for this.

Apparently, the commenter missed the 15-meter-tall (49-foot) bronze Buddha sitting in the middle of the “small place.” I feel she would have given the temple a better ranking if, in addition to putting on her glasses, she had any idea that approximately 2.6 million people helped construct the Great Buddha and Hall in 728 AD, and that it took 24 years to build.

No small feat, despite the small place, which also happens to be one of the largest wooden structures in the world.

Rating: Average
Comment: The entrance fee is ¥500 (US$5.00) which is among the highest fees I paid in Japan to enter a temple . . . so I was a bit skeptical when entering.

Wow, this guy must have been on one tight budget! He goes on to say that he may have enjoyed it more if he hadn’t already been so “shrined out.”

Even though Todai-ji is a Buddhist Temple, and not a Shinto Shrine, he may have been more sympathetic about the over-the-top entry fee if he knew that it takes over 150 workers to clean the statue every summer (just one of the Daibutsu’s fingers is larger than a human) — an event that requires suspending people from ropes from the ceiling to reach the Buddha’s head.

3. Hiroshima Peace Park, Museum and A-bomb Dome
Rating: Poor
Comment: You really have to have read up on the historical importance of the A-Bomb Dome and what happened here in Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945 in order to appreciate the magnitude of the A-Bomb blast. If you don’t do your research, this place just looks like a burned-out building surrounded by a bunch of broken rocks.

I suppose for those who skipped high-school world history class the day the teacher talked about the world’s only atomic bombings, and presuming they have been living under a rock ever since then but just happen to find themselves in Japan, clueless as to why they are even in Hiroshima, this might be a valid excuse. Might.

Another tourist was obviously under the impression that a trip to the memorial was going to be a fun, rollicking visit. He rated it poor because it was “depressing.” He added, “The 2-star rating is a warning — do not expect to feel uplifted with peaceful thoughts if you come here.”

But the best comment, another showing just how much we mistakenly attach money to meaning, was: “This museum was not very impressive. Since it’s almost free it’s still worth a visit.”

Maybe what the World Heritage Sites really need is an Internet site that can rate the tourists.

Comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • andreamiyata

    Oh.My.Goodness.
    It’s a good thing that we can make humor of such comments, because honestly, the ignorance is just appalling!

  • Dsakei

    Lol, Amy Chavez’ comments are so funny.

  • mrsatyre

    Absolutely hilarious. I’ve been to Japan many times, but never to any of those locations, but would happily go and explore them just because. Why compare them to anything other than what they are? Pointless. Some people are sheeple.

  • logicalhuman00054

    Fascinating.

  • Barry Rosenfeld

    These are just poor uneducated instant gratification backpacker types who don’t deserved to be dignified with a response. Mostly Americans it seems judging from their grammar.

  • DeDe Miura

    Love your comments, Amy!!

  • avandelay

    Gotta wonder why these people bother to travel, with such awful attitudes

  • J.P. Bunny

    Most entertaining and well deserved snarky remarks to folks that really shouldn’t be allowed outside.

  • nippon2014

    The A-dome and Hiroshima Peace Park and museeum are depressing, and it’s supposed to be, since we must never forget that war is a horrible thing. Everyone should pay a visit (especially world leaders), learn from it and strive for world peace and disarmament instead of conflict. At the same time Hiroshima and its people has such a high spirit and is filled with hope.

    • keratomileusis

      I dunno, but when I was in Hiroshima city I felt a big disconnect from the inhabitants and what had happened. Life goes on… Suffice to say the Anderson home store was delightful!

  • たいがあ@英語で世界に発信

    They don’t know where to go. You can find the right place if you are properly informed about Japan. Screw the mass-tourism.

    • keratomileusis

      True! I love going to Nikko, but avoid Toshogu like the plague. If you take the road to the right you can walk up an ancient stone path bordered by huge sugi trees and small shrines. Totally deserted! And the Bake Jizo are just gorgeous.

  • Two Cents

    To each their own. I really don’t see what’s to fault with having an opinion. Do you prefer we love it because it’s Japan and we’re supposed to love it or leave it? I live at the base of Mt. Fuji and I can totally understand the “brown hill” comment, especially during the sweaty and sticky, insect-infested, snow-free climbing season. On other days Mt. Fuji is a work of art painted on the sky, and I am thankful I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. It all depends on time of year, time of day, direction of sun, condition of air, your
    angle and your mood. It’s inevitable that not everyone finds
    satisfaction within their window of exposure. Pairing the “brown hill” comment with an aerial picture of a snow-laden Mt. Fuji is really an unbalanced response. Dig up a picture of it from below when it’s muddy with lots of trash on it. Opinions are also based on this kind of image.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharif.sircar sharif sircar

    I hope i get to see Diamond Fuji one day =D

  • LIn

    Some people really do need to step outside themselves. You’d think traveling would be a way to do that, but often it’s not. The snow on Mount Fuji in August comment reminds me of poor garden reviews when people say the gardens were dead with no flowers when they visited in FEBRUARY. While I understand the comments of Two Cents, these people really do need a reality check. You need to cater your trips to what is worthwhile during your visiting period OR at least have realistic expectations.

    The Hiroshima comments would be humorous if the subject were not so important. I can only imagine that the person who said the museum was “not very good” didn’t bother taking the time to read the exhibits. The Atomic Bomb Museum is really NOT the type of museum you can just casually walk through without reading anything. There is a wealth of knowledge and the exhibits are both meaningful and informative but you have to be willing to spend the time. It’s hard to even be around people who have visited the museum and felt nothing.

  • Athenry

    To be fair, the museum is so full of Japanese revisionism, it doesn’t surprise me that people don’t like it. I thought it was a very powerful and moving experience, just upsetting that it made no mention of Japanese aggression, and very little mention of the Korean slaves who died in the blast.

    • LIn

      Is staying on-topic revisionist? An exhibit about Japanese aggression would be WASTED SPACE in an atomic bomb memorial museum, don’t you think? No one wants to visit Hiroshima for general WWII history. No, they want to learn more about what happened THERE, what the affects were, what the modern atomic situation is like, etc. The museum is focused on Hiroshima City’s history from prior to the war, throughout the war, and then of course after the war. Even Nagasaki barely gets mention, because aside from comparing the bombs that hit the two cities, it also is not part of Hiroshima.

      There is an entire monument in the Peace Park dedicated to the Korean victims and foreign victims. Perhaps you missed it, but it’s there.

      If you are interested in general history and Japanese admissions of their own place in WWII, Peace Osaka (in Osaka) has information about Japanese aggression and mistreatment of Asians (especially Chinese).

      While there are places that Japan could do better in describing their own Asian conquest for sure, I don’t think think this is one. This is NOT a WWII museum; it’s solely about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Thinking it’s a WWII museum is a mistake.

  • http://hush564.tumblr.com Hush

    That makes me so angry that they type that stuff so ignorantly!

  • Yang Oliver

    Different things are put together to discuss.

  • Osaka Maachan

    The article’s blind love of Japan and dogmatic responses to the poor reviews are almost as bad as the ignorant (and at times obviously facetious) reviews in the first place

  • Barry Rosenfeld

    Yank are you?

  • Athenry

    What so we can’t criticize people for doing bad things because other people also do bad things?

    Damn, well when I’m on trial for murder I’ll be sure to say “But Johnnie Dicknose murdered someone JUST LAST WEEK, so you can’t convict me!”.

    Dem fallacies.

  • Merchant Mmo

    authors comments are hilarious lol :D