Reasons to Visit
Modern and exciting cities make up much of the Japanese landscape, encapsulated by sleek bullet trains, flashing neon lights and dizzying skyscrapers. Scratch the surface to find hidden temples, preserved samurai quarters and local markets.
From delicate sashimi to prime grade steaks washed down with a local beer or a cup of hot sake, every mouthful you try in Japan will certainly be memorable and more often than not, delicious.
A stay in a Japanese ryokan inn is an unbeatable opportunity to experience true Japanese hospitality, including kaiseki cuisine, hot onsen baths and sleeping on a tatami mat.
Although the image of Japan is that of skyscrapers and flashing neon, most of the country is rural, rugged and mountainous, providing excellent walking and hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.
Kyoto alone has over 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines paying homage to a number of different deities and gods. Enter the through the large torii gate and contemplate.
From tea ceremonies and flower arrangements to lavish Geisha attended kaiseki banquets, Japanese culture is the most refined and elaborate in the world.
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Our country specialists have travelled the length and breadth of Japan - here are a few of their favourite things to do
In the archetypal image of the sleek bullet train gliding past snow-capped Mount Fuji, the magic of Japan is encapsulated in one freeze frame: natural and modern beauty merging in harmony.
Delve into Japan’s rich cultural heritage in Kyoto and Takayama to witness traditional ceremonies, dress and theatre, and take a glimpse into the closed world of the Geisha. Enjoy, too, the delectable cuisine, taking time to sample the numerous local and seasonal delicacies to be found in every city and town.
The appeal of Japan encompasses all tastes and ages, whether your interest lies in embracing modern pop-culture, discovering ancient spirituality in secluded Buddhist retreats or communing with nature in steamy jungles or high mountain peaks. Relax on star-sand beaches in southerly Okinawa or whale-watch in wintry Hokkaido, the scope of experience is truly immense.
Japan’s four main islands contain a wealth of variety and spectacle, from the thronging cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Hiroshima to the provincial spa towns, neatly-tended farming regions and rugged wilderness beyond. A striking backdrop of mountain scenery and crystal lakes, neon-lit skyscrapers and landscaped gardens, steaming volcanoes and traditional architecture form a magical world that will amaze you each step of your journey.
Hakone itself is situated in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park which also encompasses Mt Fuji, Fuji Five Lakes and the Izu Peninsula. On a clear day Mt Fuji can be viewed from as far away as Tokyo.
Hiroshima is a city which has risen from the ashes since the horrific events of August 1945 and although these events are justifiably and sensitively commemorated, the city is now one with an energetic and cosmopolitan feel.
The highlight of Kanazawa, within easy reach of Takayama or Kyoto, is Japan’s number one garden, the magnificent Kenrokuen. This is a wonderful place to observe and enjoy the six elements that combine to form the perfect Japanese garden.
Kyoto is the Japan of the imagination: a city of grand palaces, ornate shrines and exquisite gardens, mercifully spared from the bombing of World War II that razed other Japanese cities.
Located in the heart of the world's biggest caldera, Aso is a great place to base yourself for exploring nearby Mount Aso.
The present incarnation of the Itsukushima-jinja shrine on Miyajima is one of the island's greatest attractions, and the "floating" red torii gate that stands in the shallow waters of the bay remains one of the most photographed views in Japan.
Only a couple of hours to the north of the capital, the small mountain town of Nikko feels like another world. Here stands the fabulous Toshogu Shrine, mausoleum to the first and greatest Tokugawa Shogun.
Surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the northern Alps, the traditional town of Takayama possesses a charming old-world atmosphere and fine Edo-period architecture.
Yudanaka is a hot spring resort which sits perched in the hills intermingled with Yamanouchi town. There are many hot springs here and the most famous is Shibu Onsen at Jigokudani, which is home to more than one hundred Japanese snow monkeys.
Take an evening stroll through the Shinjuku district of Tokyo and every preconceived image of modern Japan will be there to greet you: crowds decked out in the wildest fashions, towering skyscrapers and flashing neon.
11 1/2 hours (Tokyo)
British Airways & Virgin Atlantic
The best time to travel.
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of.
Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year.
Travel is not recommended.
Snow or ski season.
Read first-hand tips and advice from our travel specialists.
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Further reading:Tours in JapanWhen to GoItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout JapanCountry Guides
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