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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This is a rough guide to when to travel to this region. Choose a month of travel to see typical temperature and rainfall around the country. The ticks indicate our recommended months to travel.
The Japanese Archipelago covers 20 degrees of latitude, and so the climate varies greatly, ranging from temperate in the north island of Hokkaido to sub-tropical in Okinawa in the far south. Essentially Japan’s four seasons resemble our own, but conditions are more pronounced, with a significantly colder and snowier winter and a much hotter, stickier summer.
Spring and autumn are the best times to travel, with the delicate cherry blossom or turning leaves adding a gorgeous hue to the scenery. The cherry blossom begins its journey northward in mid-March, reaching Kyoto and Tokyo by early April, and finally arriving in Sapporo by early May. The autumn leaves reverse the pattern, touching the high peaks of Hokkaido in mid-October and marching steadily south to Kyoto by mid-November.
For hikers and lovers of the outdoors the summer months offer ideal conditions in the mountains of the Japanese Alps and Hokkaido’s wild national parks, or for a very different experience why not visit Japan in the winter, when the people of the snowy north brighten the dark days with a host of colourful festivals and events.
Okinawa can be visited all year round but for the best weather and least chance of typhoons, May and October are ideal. Summer is the peak season for domestic tourism and also sees the highest levels of rain and threat of high winds.
The cherry blossom season (called hanami locally) is a national institution in Japanese society. Hanami (hana meaning flower and mi meaning to see or view) sees families, friends, work colleagues and sporting teams gather to sit on blue tarpaulin on avenues lined with cherry blossom trees and sing, chat and generally make merry until darkness falls.
Taking place across Japan, the Obon Festival, also known as the 'festival of lanterns' is a wonderful spectacle of Bon dances, floating lanterns and a huge bonfire. This is lit on the side of Mt Daimonji, Kyoto to help guide the spirits of one's ancestors back to the other world.
Autumn is a glorious time to be in Japan as the countryside blazes with the fiery reds and dazzling oranges of the turning leaves of indigenous momiji maple tree.
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Further reading:Tours in JapanHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout JapanCountry Guides
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