An extraordinary island nation where cutting-edge innovation exists beside a strong reverence for tradition. A journey through Japan will reveal futuristic cities, meditative Zen gardens, centuries-old Shinto shrines and an incredible cuisine.
The cleanliness, cool efficiency and time-honoured customs... it is Japan’s ‘otherness’ that makes it such a fascinating place to explore. And with more than 6,800 islands to its name, there’s plenty to discover.
From Tokyo, the high-octane capital, catch a bullet train to spiritual Kyoto where geisha still wander to and from delicate tea houses. In Hiroshima, you can pay your respects at the National Peace Memorial before hopping on a ferry over to the ‘shrine island’ of Miyajima to admire its famous ‘floating’ torii gate.
Delve deeper into Japan’s ancient past at Takayama in the shadow of the Japanese Alps, where you can wander streets lined by Edo-era merchant houses. Kanazawa’s preserved samurai and geisha districts are equally atmospheric, alongside one of the most beautiful landscape gardens in all of Japan.
And that’s not all. Hakone will introduce you to Mount Fuji and one of the nation’s favourite pastimes - onsen bathing. Naoshima Island allures with its contemporary art, whilst Osaka promises endless culinary delights as the unofficial ‘food capital’ of Japan. Winding its way through the enchanting Kiso Valley, the fabled ‘Nakasendo Way’ is a must for keen walkers, as are the 1,000-year-old pilgrimage trails of Kumano Kodo.
When it comes to accommodation, Japan has no shortage of polished luxury hotels to choose from, but try to spend at least one night in a traditional ryokan inn to experience a way of life long lost to concrete and computers.
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