Japan Travel Guide
Deep rooted and elegant traditions underpin a bubbling pleasure in new and unusual delights, within landscapes that range from the densely urban and gracefully historic, to volcanic hot springs and adventure-friendly wilderness.
Where to go in Japan
Japan’s largest island is Honshu, and on its eastern shore sits Tokyo, one of the most captivating cities in the world, and the country’s commercial and political capital. Now a vast, energising urban sprawl, Tokyo has seen revolutionary changes over the last few centuries - the shogun’s castle has transformed into the Emperor’s Palace, the samurai dwellings have exploded upwards into gleaming skyscrapers, and millions have poured in from all over the archipelago, animating the capital with their unique cultures and characters.
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.
Just an hour from the capital, Hakone's volcanic landscape introduces the relaxing hot spring culture that is Japan's alternative - and highly agreeable - answer to tropical beach culture.
A couple of hours west on the bullet train from Tokyo lies elegant Kyoto, once Japan's imperial capital, where you can still glimpse kimono-clad geisha flitting between riverside parties, relax in Zen gardens of astonishing beauty, sip frothy green tea in a tea ceremony, and explore dozens of ornate temples and palaces.
All this is a short ride from the manic modern metropolis of Osaka, famous for its hedonistic 'kuidaore' dining culture, and for playing a feisty counterweight to Tokyo’s dominance. Osaka, with its culture of feasting and play, will offer a taste of Japan's more rambunctious side!
Hiroshima & Miyajima
Near Honshu’s western tip sits Hiroshima, a modern city full of colour and character, and a symbol of Japan’s astonishing post-war development, with its famous holy island - Miyajima - just offshore.
Across the Inland Sea lies the peaceful island of Shikoku, whose steep green valleys once concealed defeated samurai clans - this is the place to play on the waters of the beautiful Shimanto river, and hike a pilgrimage trail that takes in 88 temples.
You can swim and surf at the beachside resorts of fertile Kyushu, or head inland to explore the little island's stunning volcanic vistas and hot spring hideaways that most tourists haven’t heard of.
Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, was the last major region in Japan to be modernised, and is still defined by wild mountains, distinctive flora and fauna, and echoes of its aboriginal Ainu culture. Hokkaido’s scenic open roads come into their own during the the island’s mild summers, while its northern latitude ensures the whitest of winters - bringing with them Olympic-standard ski resorts, Harbin-style ice festivals, and dancing cranes.
Reasons to love Japan
- Utterly unique, sophisticated culture that embraces ancient and futuristic with equal verve, and which even the most determined copycats are unable to keep up with
- Extremely high standard of customer service
- Simply fantastic food
- Easy-to-use high speed rail network connecting most of the country
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Religion: Shinto, Buddhism