A holiday in Japan is often the trip of a lifetime. Not only is this country very far from us and remains costly, but it is also a completely different culture and it will delight your senses. Japan fascinates all travellers that enter the country, and you will likely be enchanted as well. You will discover the best-kept traditions are mixed with the ultra-modern technologies. You will meet graceful Japanese women wearing Kimono or Yukata and you will encounter the most technologically developed gadgets... Visiting Japan is also a culinary odyssey, and you will the many ways of eating fish. All your sens will be bewildered during your trip to Japan!
Whether it’s food, culture, luxury, authenticity, history or adventure you’re after, Japan is the destination that has something to offer every visitor. Every season brings a new facet to this beautiful country so you can visit the same place many times and never have the same experience twice. Perhaps this is why people never seem to get enough of this destination, or perhaps it’s the rich culture or ancient traditions that can be found all over the country. Stay in a sleek hotel to experience bustling, vibrant city life in Kyoto or Tokyo, or with a local family to get a feel for authentic Japanese lifestyle in the foothills of Mount Fuji. Travel solo, with friends or bring the whole family along to see what continues to attract so many people to Japan.
Despite how well-developed Japan is, it is nonetheless undeniable that language barriers and cultural norms are extremely different from those in the western world; something which can cause problems for some travellers. A local travel agent will be able to act as an intermediary or translator when sorting out any problems that may arise, as well as being able to offer expert advice to ensure that visitors will be able to spend their valuable time wisely, not wasting time on tourist traps or overpriced attractions.
If a traveller would like to visit Tsukiji Fish auction, for instance, they might have no idea about logistics, such as how early you need to queue up for the line, or how to get there easily and hassle-free. A bona fide local agent can provide answers to all these questions before they are even asked, and, armed with all of their local knowledge they can create a tailor-made trip for any traveller. Rather than spend hours online trying to figure the puzzles of your chosen destination on your own, let a local agent suggest secret spots and hidden gems that you won’t find on online and lift your trip out of the realms of the ordinary.
Japan has so much to offer and, for first-time visitors, it can be hard to choose from so many tempting options. Some activities that never fail to please, however, are;
Experience all this and so much more on your visit to Japan.
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The climate in Japan can vary widely depending on the region you visit. Since the country is long from North to South, this allows for great differences in temperature and weather conditions within the country at any given time. Meteorologically speaking, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu have extratropical climates, Hokkaido has subarctic climates, and the southern islands such as Okinawa have subtropical climates.
The most popular period for travellers to visit is during Sakura (Spring), along with the Easter holidays from the end of March until the beginning of April. Autumn is also a peak season since the foliage often attracts visitors, with November being a peak month.
Naoshima Island is an incredible, and one of the most unique off the beaten track experiences for most travellers to Japan. Naoshima is a tiny island in the Inland Sea renowned for its art museums, galleries and magical atmosphere. The place has become increasingly popular with art connoisseurs and luxury travellers who come for the art (particularly Benesse House and the Chichu Museum), and the chance to stay at an unbelievable museum-hotel. Whilst not your typical off the beaten track experience, (you won’t be staying in a mud hut here!) it is something that many travellers won’t have experienced before and is often the highlight of their trip to Japan.
The world-famous Cherry Blossom period falls between the end of March and the beginning of April. Otherwise known as Sakura, this time is a long-held tradition and is particularly special since it stands as a national symbol of Japan itself and has become famous the world over for its breathtaking beauty.
Japanese people celebrate Sakura each year and believe that the Cherry Blossom is a reminder for the transience of beauty and of human life. The fragility and temporary nature of the Sakura blossoms lend them a tragic beauty that, that the Japanese believe makes them even more beautiful. In the same way, the Japanese also see Sakura as a time to reflect on the philosophy of life. They accept that life is short and fragile but are reminded by the blossoms to make life as beautiful as possible. The graciousness that this life cycle represents is also seen as a symbol of the ‘bushido’ or warrior spirit.
Mount Fuji is home to one of the most popular hiking trails in Japan and while, it's not hard to see why, this can mean that your hike doesn’t give you the same sense of escape, since there may be other tourists there. However, for scenic views and true escape, Mount Takao is the choice for you. Tokyo locals come here when they need to escape the concrete jungle of the city. Mount Takao has everything you need: a variety of different trails, an unusual shrine for the more cultural tourists, views of Mt. Fuji, monkeys, and a cable-car option too since these views should be accessible to everyone.
Japan is home to a number of iconic landmarks, both natural and man-made and dotted all over the country. One of the most symbolic landmarks in modern Tokyo is the Shibuya Crossing often called the world’s busiest pedestrian route. This area epitomises the bustle of Japanese cities that make them such thrilling places to visit and so unlike western cities which have a completely different atmosphere. This particular intersection is a popular location for movies, such as Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, for instance.
Food represents an important part of Japanese culture itself. It is hard to imagine how much thought has been put into just one dish; from the preparation, consumption and appreciation of Japanese food. Food in Japan is truly a form of art, and something that has to be experienced to be believed. Japanese meals have even earned recognition by UNESCO, who have added traditional Japanese cuisine into its Cultural Heritage list.
Mount Fuji, perhaps the most well-known, is a must-see and is an incredibly impressive landmark that captures the beauty of Japanese landscape. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and as such, is widely recognised by travellers and locals alike as not just the most beautiful mountain in Japan, but the most beautiful landmark. Be sure not to miss it, whether you’re a first-time tourist or a seasoned visitor to Japan.
The four main Japanese islands are; Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and the largest island, (on which the capital, Tokyo, is placed) Shikoku. The island of Japan itself also has over 6,000 smaller islands, of which over 430 are inhabited.
For those wanting to visit one of the quirkier islands, why not visit Okunoshima; otherwise known as "Rabbit Island". Many visitors now come here though because of this nickname: the island is home to more than 300 wild rabbits descended from a small group of domesticated rabbits left here about 40 years ago. There is no difficulty finding the bunnies, from the moment you step off the ferry they come bounding up to visitors hoping to get fed. Rabbit food is available from the visitor centre, but many people bring their own. A must-visit for adults or children looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you would only find Japan, and would never expect.
For travellers who plan on staying in Japan for 2 weeks or over, a JR pass is highly recommended. This pass allows visitors to travel on the Japanese Rail system and is an excellent way of travelling through the country with little to no stress. Two weeks is the ideal length of time, allowing you to take in the bustle of Tokyo, the charm of Kyoto, the history of Hiroshima and the luxury and comfort of a hot spring resort. Along the way why not experience a Green Tea ceremony or perhaps a ‘Kimono experience’ to get a real feel for Japanese culture, way of life and history.
A spring or autumn visit is perfect for travellers visiting Japan as a family since you will be able to take advantage of the Easter holidays and Autumn school break, whilst timing your visit with the seasons to ensure that you visit Japan at its most beautiful. Take a cooking lesson, enjoy a samurai experience, perfect your skiing or snowboarding or visit an extravagant theme park.
For honeymoon couples, Japan provides a true cultural adventure. If a white sand beach resort is not your ideal destination for your post-wedding getaway and you would rather discover a fascinating and beautiful country together then Japan is the answer. Discover a deeply rooted history and wonderfully rich traditions for couples, alongside many options to enjoy each other’s company together from your own private Onsen for instance.
The best season to visit Japan is the spring: the weather is glorious and the cherry trees are in blossom. You can also go in the autumn when the colours are just as beautiful. But is it always better to go mid-season to explore the country. In fact, winter can be very cold, whilst summer is often very hot with heavy rain.
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