Japan's largest island, Honshu, is home to the destinations that are most likely to be familiar. Here you'll find the country's capital, Tokyo, world-renowned for its lively energy and extraordinary sprawl of urbanity that stretches for miles - you could easily spend your entire holiday in Tokyo without feeling the need to leave the city limits, but we heartily encourage you to do so - impressive as the metropolis might be, Japan has a great deal more to offer.
Historic capital Kyoto, and samurai era settlements like Kanazawa, Takayama and Tsumago all offer an experience of traditional Japanese lifestyles, from the tea ceremonies and bathhouse inns that have extended hospitality to travellers for centuries, to the fortifications necessary in more turbulent centuries gone by, and the creative ingenuity visible in the buildings, arts and crafts that still grace the streets.
Osaka, with its culture of feasting and play, will offer a taste of Japan's more rambunctious side, while a gentle artistic culture can be enjoyed in Hiroshima, with its ancient holy island just offshore.
In Hakone's volcanic landscape, enjoy the relaxing hot spring culture that is Japan's alternative - and highly agreeable - answer to tropical beach culture, while the smaller islands, with their distinctive landscapes, offer diverse outdoor pursuits, from the ski resorts of Hokkaido to the surf breaks of Kyushu, and ancient pilgrimage trails through Shikoku's thousand year old forests.