Huruvida man gillar Japan eller inte handlar om hur mycket tid och pengar man har (Japan är dyrt), vad man gillar, och när man åker. På sätt och vis är verkligen Tokyo det absolut bästa och roligaste och många med begränsad tid brukar hamna där och ingen annanstans (förutom möjligtvis Kyoto och Osaka).
Jag tror att jag aldrig kommer att åka till Hokkaido – den nordligaste huvudön – med tanke på hur pass likt det ändå är Sverige, topografiskt och klimatmässigt. Man kan lika gärna åka till Norrland. Inte heller skulle jag åka till Jigokudani Monkey Park på vintern enbart för att se makaker bada.
Men det finns en del unika områden som visar på vilka extremt vackra platser det finns i Japan, samt att variationen är stor. Här är de bästa exemplen jag har kunnat hitta, varav några jag redan har sett medan andra är på min bucket list.
Det vara värt att göra en visit på våren, se körsbärsblomningen, och ha huvudön Honshu som utgångspunkt. Sedan kan man åka en bit söderut, och eventuellt Okinawa om det hinns med (jag som har varit i Taiwan är inte lika imponerad men Okinawa tycks onekligen bitvis riktigt härligt). Du kan helt hoppa över ön Shikoku och bara som hastigast besöka Kyushu, den sydligaste huvudön, i samband med att Fukuoka bevistas. Noterbart är att 8 av 10 platser ligger på just Honshu.
1. Tattori Sand Dunes, Honshu
Ja, man kan faktiskt rida på kamel i Japan. De har ett ökenområde i västra Honshu.
2. Fushimi Inari Shrine, nära Kyoto, Honshu
Perfekt att kombinera med Kyoto, då det ligger nära.
3. Furuzamami Beach, Okinawa
Det finns gott om subtropiska stränder i Okinawa, en bra bit söder om den sydligaste huvudön. Här är ett exempel. Kräver dock flyg och sedan båt för att ta sig dit.
4. Hitsujiyama Park, Chichibu, Honshu
5. Bioluminescenerande klippor, Okayama, Honshu
6. Kawaguchi Fuji-en Gardens, Fukuoka, Kyushu
Om du har ett Japan Rail Pass är det värt att åka till Fukuoka. Därifrån är det nära till denna trädgård.
7. Onsen, Mt. Fuji, Honshu
Försök hitta ett bra onsen nära Mt. Fuji, som kan avnjutas både dagtid och kvällstid. Det finns flera att välja mellan. Helst med utsikt över berget. Även hostels är riktigt bra där, och eftersom boende är dyrt i Japan är det främst det som man ska satsa på.
8. Himeji Castle, Himeji, Honshu
Inte särskilt långt från Kyoto och Hiroshima. Enkelt att ta sig dit om du har Japan Rail Pass.
9. Hakuba Happo-one Trail, Nagano, Honshu
10. Hitachi Seaside Park, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Honshu
I have previously shed light upon the Okinawa diet. Recently I have come across a very insightful article on the very same topic.
For instance the author stresses:
We always look for reasons for groups of people to live long. And the people of Okinawa live on average to 84 years old (it’s only 78.8 years in the United States!). There are some who live to 100 or more, and research has shown that the diet is likely the main reason for this. Scientists have worked hard to figure out just what makes the Japanese island so healthy, and this is the only reason they have come up with!
Further it emphasizes how the Okinawa diet handles carbs and protein:
But we can’t just completely cut out all carbs. It’s important to focus on starchy carbs, which research has also shown is beneficial for our bodies. The great news is that sweet potatoes are starchy and healthy. They give you the taste of something naughty, but they don’t raise the blood sugar levels in ways that are damaging to the health.
Moving on from the carbs, we need to look at protein. The Okinawa diet does allow some meat, including pork. Seafood and dairy products are also consumed, but there is more of a focus on legumes and soy. So, if you want to get meat, fish, and other protein-friendly products, you’ll need to opt for them in small amounts.
In this regard I would prefer to leave out soy and replace it with chicken, egg and fish. Like I stress in my Swedish e-book, I suggest an optimal hybrid diet, and it appears more appropriate – if you are into fitness in particular – to eat more animal-based protein sources. Hence adjust in accordance with such goals kept in mind.
Moreover, it focuses on calories and weight loss. Perhaps a more strict Okinawa diet is more appropriate for women:
Other studies have shown that Okinawa people eat 1,200 calories a day on average. This is the minimum the body needs to get all its nutrients and fuel the body, so it is a healthy diet. The recommended amount for an average woman in the Western world is 2,000 calories, although research has shown that most women don’t actually need the 2,000! 1,500-1,700 is usually the amount the body needs to burn.
So, you’re creating a calorie deficit without really thinking about it. And the more you follow the diet, the less you will consume as you lose weight. There’s no thinking about missing out on something because you constantly feel full.
Additionally it also includes important insights on the health benefits:
Have you thought about how a diet is affecting your health? When you start cutting out certain foods, you usually run the risk of nutrient deficiencies. Your body needs to get all four food groups and needs so many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, zinc, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
The Okinawa diet may change your lifestyle, but it is for the better. There have been so many health benefits noted, and these are likely the reason for the better health and lifespan.
Let’s focus on the antioxidants at first. You’re going to get far more into your system because you’re eating all the right foods. Orange and yellow foods have plenty of vitamin C and other antioxidants to help support the immune system. They’re often the foods that we miss out, either because we don’t feel like we need them or we forget all about them.
And you’re definitely not going to lose out on nutrients. The dark green leafy vegetables are the ones that have the majority of the minerals you’ll be deficient in. They contain calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin A, and much more. And this is the diet that supports you eating these dark green vegetables on a daily basis.
Then we can’t forget about the fatty acids. Yes, our bodies need fat, but they need the right type of fat: the fat that is going to support our metabolisms rather than causing a nightmare for our arteries. Seafood is full of omega 3 fatty acids, which help to support artery health, blood flow, and brain development.
If there is anything negative to say about the Okinawa diet, then it is that some products are relatively expensive and/or hard to find, like seaweed and sweet potatoes, but since vegetables and small amounts of fish are the main products it can be manageable.
Okinawa is the name of a Japanese prefecture, a particular island, and sometimes also referred to as a group of subtropical islands in the Japanese south. (However, some of these islands should correctly and more specifically be labelled the Ryukyu Islands.)
Besides from being beautiful, the Okinawa region is known for its density of centenarians, i.e. those who have lived 100 years or more, and this palpable phenomenon’s interrelationship to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Hence, the Okinawan diet, a term that has become quite well-known in the Western world as well.
In this post, I will briefly examine this particular diet, and describe the extent to which it might be followed strictly or at least significantly influence one’s own particular dietary habits. Moreover, I will explain how it can be modified in order to correspond more optimally to a fitness and bodybuilding lifestyle and diet. I will have the research article “The Okinawan Diet: Health Implications of a Low-Calorie, Nutrient-Dense, Antioxidant-Rich Dietary Pattern Low in Glycemic Load” as a point of departure and reference.
The article’s abstract tells us:
Residents of Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, are known for their long average life expectancy, high numbers of centenarians, and accompanying low risk of age-associated diseases. Much of the longevity advantage in Okinawa is thought to be related to a healthy lifestyle, particularly the traditional diet, which is low in calories yet nutritionally dense, especially with regard to phytonutrients in the form of antioxidants and flavonoids. Research suggests that diets associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases are similar to the traditional Okinawan diet, that is, vegetable and fruit heavy (therefore phytonutrient and antioxidant rich) but reduced in meat, refined grains, saturated fat, sugar, salt, and full-fat dairy products. Many of the characteristics of the diet in Okinawa are shared with other healthy dietary patterns, such as the traditional Mediterranean diet or the modern DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Features such as the low levels of saturated fat, high antioxidant intake, and low glycemic load in these diets are likely contributing to a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and other chronic diseases through multiple mechanisms, including reduced oxidative stress.
It is notable that contemporary Okinawans in general – much like many other populations in the industrialized world – have started to eat more Western-style and thus consume more salt, sugar, meat and processed fats. Thus it is the traditional Okinawan diet that has health benefits, since it consists of nutrients – (particularly potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and carotenoids) and fiber – that seem to be what the sweet potato in particular contains in abundance. Other important nutrients from the sweet potato are vitamin A, B, B6 and E.
Westerners in general and Americans in particular ought to be influenced by the Okinawan diet at the expense of typical American/Western foodstuffs such as red meat, sugar, high-GI carbohydrates and processed and saturated fats. The dietary habits of humans are more or less linked to cardiovascular diseases and certain forms of cancer, and to eat more properly is one important dimension in that respect:
Based on dietary intake data or evidence of public health problems the USDA indicates that many adults lack sufficient amounts of dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and the antioxidant vitamins A (as carotenoids), C, and E . At the same time, the USDA reports that in general, Americans consume too many calories and too much saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sugar, and salt . Moreover, overconsumption of foods that are calorie-dense, nutritionally poor, highly processed, and rapidly absorbable can lead to systemic inflammation, reduced insulin sensitivity, and a cluster of metabolic abnormalities, including obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and glucose intolerance (commonly known as metabolic syndrome), affecting about one third of Americans and an increasingly serious problem in virtually all developed nations.
Besides from low calories and sweet potato consumption, other ingredients and foodstuffs, such as mugwort, seaweed and fennel, have health benefits, and thus blurr the distinction between food and medicine:
The distinction between food and medicine blurs in Okinawa, with commonly consumed ‘‘herbs’’ such as fuchiba (mugwort), kandaba (sweet potato leaves), ichoba (fennel), aasa (green seaweed), ngana (bitter leaf), and others utilized as both foods and medicine. All contain powerful antioxidants, with high amounts of carotene and other antioxidant properties (aasa seaweed has close to 9000 mg of carotene per 100 g)
Overall, the Okinawan diet is more related to wellness than fitness. However, with a combination of typical traditional Okinawan foodstuffs, and more calories from eggs, fish, chicken and low fat dairy products (quark and cottage cheese), it is possible to synthesize a fitness diet that has both physiological and aesthetic benefits.