Discover Japan’s contrasts, from its sleek, modern cities to ancient towns and traditional customs. Wander Tokyo’s dazzling streets and hurtle along on the bullet train. Enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms, bathe in a serene onsen near Mount Fuji in Hakone, eat your way through the thriving food scene in Hiroshima and experience the elegant Geisha culture in Kyoto.
Trains in Japan are incredibly punctual. In 2003, the average delay per train on the Tokaido Shinkansen was 6 seconds! During rush-hours, the Shinkansen trains are departing from Tokyo one at every 3 minutes. Shinjuku Station, not only the busiest in the world has 36 platforms, including an underground arcade, above ground arcade and numerous hallways. There are well over 200 exits. Another 17 platforms (51 total) can be accessed through hallways to 5 directly connected stations without surfacing outside.
Tokyo, Japan’s bustling capital with a population of 13.5 million people is a mix of ultramodern and the traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers and anime shops to cherry trees and temples.
Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) in Spring
Spring is one of the most exceptional times to visit Japan when the sakura come out in bloom from late March to early April. Many parks are filled with hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties during spring where people picnic under the trees with friends and family.
One of the most common feature of Japanese gardens is a pond in the center of the compound, surrounded by lush flora like pine, maple, and cherry trees and flowering bushes like azaleas as well as stones or boulders to bring in part of nature.
Eating and drinking
Japanese cuisine has a large variety of dishes and regional specialties. Restaurants range from food stalls to themed restaurants about ninjas and robots to Michelin starred restaurants. Japanese food is based around super-fresh and seasonal products with each region having their own specialty. Tokyo has the most amount of Michelin stars than any other city in the world with 14 restaurants awarded the top 3 star rating.
Temples are the places of worship in Japanese Buddhism. Cities like Kyoto have hundreds of temples that you can visit. The best cities to visit temples are Kyoto, Nara and Kamakura. The best overnight temple stay is in Koyasan.
Shinto shrines are places of worship and the dwellings of the kami, the Shinto “gods”. People visit shrines in order to pay respect to the kami or to pray for good fortune. You can easily recognise a shrine by the torii gate or gates that mark the entrance.
Geisha or Geiko are professional entertainers who attend to guests during meals, banquets and other occasions. They are trained in various traditional Japanese arts such as dance and music, as well as in the art of communication.
Few nations on Earth have had a more colorful history than Japan. Japan has seen the rise and fall of emperors, rule by samurai warriors, isolation from the outside world, expansion over most of Asia, defeat and rebound.
Castles first appeared throughout Japan in the 15th century, during the era of the warring states. Himeji castle is the most popular and visited castle in Japan.
Stunning Autumn Tones
The viewing of autumn leaves has been a popular activity in Japan for centuries. From mid September Japan is filled with beautiful yellows, oranges and reds.
Cities like Tokyo and Osaka usually have shorter winters with cold sunny days whereas Northern Japan has large amounts of snow that makes perfect conditions for skiing, snowboarding and the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido.
Whether you are seeking long, multi-day treks through the national parks or easy day trips from the city, Japan offers abundant hiking opportunities through a diverse set of climates and difficulty levels including Mt Fuji in the summer.