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

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

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