Japan is a wonderful mix of ancient history and the latest in high-tech innovation. Beautiful ancient temples sit near modern skyscrapers and dizzying lights. Meticulously manicured gardens, high-speed trains, mountains, and a sometimes quirky culture create a fascinating society that has evolved over thousands of years. Visitors to Japan will never want something new or interesting to explore.
Most visitors will arrive at one of Japan’s two international airports, Narita Airport in Tokyo and Kansai Airport in Osaka. From there it is possible to take domestic flights to other regions or travel by train, car rental or coach. Japan’s train network is excellent and reliable, making it one of the best ways to travel around the country. It is home to the world’s first high-speed train, the bullet train. There is a special tourist Japan Rail Pass that allows you unlimited train travel for up to three weeks at great value for money. It is important to note that the pass must be purchased in advance before arriving in Japan and there are some restrictions, but not many. The cheapest way to travel is by coach, known as a kosoku bus.
Japan has different seasons, making it ideal to visit at any time of the year. Spring in Japan is famous for the beautiful cherry blossoms. Summer can be very hot and humid, but the mountains provide fantastic escapes and it is the time of year when many festivals take place. Autumn brings the fiery glow of foliage. In winter, the mountains and northern Japan offer good places to ski. The southern and Pacific coast is warmer than other parts of the country. This time of year is a great time to experience Japan’s hot springs, many of the best of which can be found in Tohoku, the northernmost region of the main island.
Japan has many accommodation options available in both Western and Japanese styles to suit various budgets. For a truly Japanese experience, try to spend at least one night at a Ryokan. These Japanese inns almost always include breakfast and dinner. Bed and breakfasts are another great way to experience the Japanese way of life. Western-style hotels are common with many household names throughout the country. Budget travelers will find hundreds of hostels to suit their needs. One of the most unique options is to stay in a Japanese temple and participate in the Buddhist morning prayers.
Japan has enough attractions to fill many guidebooks. It has forests, gardens, hot springs, mountains, sea, museums, shrines, temples and much more. Temples are found in all regions of Japan and are fine examples of traditional architecture. Some temples still function as Buddhist monasteries and house holy shrines. Some of the most beautiful temples are Takkoku no Iwaya, Motsuji Temple, Yamadera, Sensoji Temple, Kokedera and Ankokuronji Temple. Marine life lovers and families alike will enjoy Japan’s amazing aquariums such as Aquamarine Fukushima and Churaumi Aquarium, possibly the most spectacular of Japan’s two aquariums.
Although Japan is known for its mega and ultra modern cities, it is also rich in nature to explore. Cherry blossoms are one of the country’s biggest attractions and one of the most famous plants. The best time of year to see them is early April. Popular viewing spots are Chidorigafuchi in Tokyo’s Kitanomaru Park, Sankeien Garden, Chureito Pagoda, and Hikone Castle. There are several national parks where visitors can experience spectacular scenery and hiking trails. One of the best places to see the fall colors is Daisetsuzen National Park. If you’re looking for hot springs, head to Towada Hachimantai National Park.