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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Kakunodate is a quiet town in the east of Akita prefecture. The town is enclosed on three sides by mountains, and the Hinokinai-gawa River runs southwards through it. It has a smart, elegant feel and is called the Little Kyoto of Michinoku.
Kakunodate is a quiet town in the east of Akita prefecture. The town is enclosed on three sides by mountains, and the Hinokinai-gawa River runs southwards through it.
Underneath its Tohoku (the northeastern region) appearance, the town has a smart, elegant feel and is called the Little Kyoto of Michinoku (the old name of Tohoku).
A large number of samurai houses remain in Kakunodate, making it one of the best places in Japan for viewing this old style of house. Some of the most impressive are the houses of Ishiguro, Aoyagi and Nishimiya.
There are also shrines, temples and merchants' storehouses, which seem to surround the town and give visitors the feeling that the history of Kakunodate is still alive today.
Hinokinai-gawa River is lined with cherry trees for 2 kilometres. The tunnel of cherry blossoms that forms along the riverbanks in spring is beautiful, and has been designated a national beauty spot.
Even after the flower season, the banks are loved by the townspeople as a pleasant place to walk - after the cherry leaves come summer's green shades followed by the colourful hues of autumn.
Many traditional events are held throughout the four seasons in Kakunodate. If you come at the right time you can enjoy some of these: the Sakura-matsuri Festival (cherry blossom festival) in spring; the Sasara-mai (dance) in summer, in which people dance while they rhythmically rub two sasara (bamboo whisks) together; the stirring Oyama-matsuri Festival in autumn, in which floats collide with one another; and the Hiburi Kamakura in winter, in which a straw bag on the end of a rope is set afire and swung around to pray for good health.
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