There's nothing ordinary about the "Land of the Rising Sun". In fact, it's very extraordinary. Here, cultural traditions and ancient customs, such as traditional Geisha and tea ceremony rituals , contrast with high-tech bullet trains and soaring skyscrapers, and where Shinto shrines or atmospheric temples sit within touching distance of karaoke bars and neon signs.
From small-time castle town to world’s biggest city, Tokyo is busy with a capital “B”. Throw yourself amongst the melee and venture into the hubbub of neon-lit streets and nostalgic narrow alleys offset by parks, shrines and temples. Highlights include the Imperial Palace and Senso-ji Temple while to the west is Hakone National Park with Mount Fuji at its heart.
Very much a modern lived in city, Kyoto also has oodles of atmosphere from its time as an Imperial capital. Crammed with temples, pavilions, shrines and gardens, it’s where Geisha hobble down lamp-lit streets and where the artistry of a Japanese tea ceremony can be viewed. South of Kyoto is Nara, home to some of Japan’s largest and oldest temples, most within a pretty deer park.
Bustling, down-to-earth Osaka bursts with an eclectic street culture, vast underground shopping malls, an iconic castle and futuristic architectural landmarks. It’s also a diner’s paradise with superb restaurants and food stalls.
Whilst Hiroshima will forever be remembered for the tragic events of 6th August 1945 when it became the world’s first atomic-bomb target, a vibrant metropolis has risen from the ashes. See the A-Bomb Dome at Peace Memorial Park and make a beeline for nearby Miyajima Island to see the striking ‘floating’ torii (shrine gate).
Further insights to Japan’s unique traditions are found in the Japanese Alps, a scenic hotspot with snow-capped mountains, quaint villages and open-air hot springs.
Other Japanese highlights include a speedy ride on the Shinkansen bullet train or experiencing traditional hospitality with a stay in a ryokan (inn) where you’ll don a kimono and sleep on a futon.
- Unique history culture
- Spectacular mountain scenery
- Decorative shrines
- Glorious gardens
- Tea ceremonies
- Geisha girls and Sumo wrestling
- Exciting cities