Japan is an extremely futuristic country with well-preserved cultural integrity. This is where bullet trains and robots coexist with centuries-old shrines and cultural heritage. Japanese food and art is renowned the world over, and the country boasts stunning natural scenery as well. Read on to discover what Japan has in store for you.
Tokyo: Honshu is the largest island in Japan and home to its capital Tokyo. A technology hub of the world, Tokyo seems like a city from the future. Tokyo’s skyline is dominated by the 333m tall Tokyo Tower, which offers panoramic views of Tokyo City, and you can even spot Mt. Fuji on a clear day. In spite of its ultra-modern architecture, Tokyo still preserves its ancient shrines and temples, of which Senso-ji is the oldest. To experience Tokyo’s famed shopping and nightlife, explore the districts of Shinjuku, Akihabara or Harajuku.
Kanto: The Kanto Region in Honshu Island houses the active volcano – Mount Fuji (also known as Fuji-san), a UNESCO world heritage site, the country’s highest point and most iconic landmark. Almost midway between Tokyo and Mount Fuji lies Kamakura – medieval Japan’s capital dotted with Buddhist temples like the Kotoku-in Temple with its 13-metre tall Daibutsu (Great Buddha) from the 13th-century. On your way to Mt. Fuji from Kamakura, you will come across Hakone – a mountainous town, known for its onsens (Japanese hot springs resorts) and the torii of Hakone-jinja. The town’s picturesque setting with Mount Fuji in the backdrop makes an excellent pitstop.
Kansai: Kyoto in the Kansai region (in south-central Honshu) is nicknamed the ‘spiritual heart of Japan’ and it houses important historic buildings like the Kinkaku-ji and the Vermilion Torii Gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha. About 60km southwest of Kyoto lies Osaka – which is known for modern architecture, the lively riverside area of Dotonbori, vibrant nightlife, great street food and is the base for exploring the Todai-ji temple. Located south of Osaka, Koyasan is a forested area, known for its 9th-century monastic complex.
Central Honshu: In Honshu island’s central region lies one of ancient Japan’s five highways – Nakasendo; you can go on a walking tour of its popular sections. The central region’s main cities are Matsumoto – known for its namesake 16th-century castle, Takayama- for its Spring Festival and Kanazawa – known for Kenroku-en, a 17th-century castle garden, along with museums, markets and regional handicrafts.
Western Honshu: In Western Honshu lies Hiroshima, the unfortunate city where the world’s first atomic-bomb was dropped during WWII. The Peace Memorial Park in the city helps visitors understand the impact of the horrific attack and appreciate how Hiroshima has bounced back into a thriving city. The nearby Miyajima island is a UNESCO listed site and known for the vermilion torii of Itsukushima-jinja. Naoshima is a photogenic island, known for its museums, contemporary art scene and outdoor sculptures.
Northern Honshu: Here you will find Zao Onsen, a famous ski resort and the temple town of Yamadera with its rich history and the picturesque Risshaku-ji temple.
The northernmost of Japan’s main islands, Hokkaido, is known for its volcanoes, onsens and ski areas at its four excellent national parks – Daisetsuzan, Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu, Shiretoko and Akan. The island’s main city Sapporo is the fifth-largest in the country and makes a perfect base to explore the island’s mountains and hot springs. The annual Snow Festival is a major attraction in the city. The city of Hakodate is known as the southern gateway to the island and popular for the stunning views from Mount Hakodate. Niseko is the superstar of Hokkaido’s long list of ski-resorts.
Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island is home to Nagasaki, the second city that was annihilated by atom bomb, where you will find numerous monuments and memorials. Like Hiroshima, Nagasaki is also a thriving city today. Kumamoto city is known for its 17th-century Kumamoto castle and the landscaped Suizenji Garden. The stunning Takachiho Gorge – a picturesque gorge with a beautiful waterfall is another highlight of the island.
The Okinawa archipelago is known for its diverse islands like the UNESCO listed Yakushima – which offers excellent hiking on its mountainous landscape and Ishigaki-jima – which has stunning beaches and great diving.
Japan is a dream destination for all lovers of manga and anime; its rich and colourful history is a treat for history buffs; its excellent geographical make-up is a paradise for nature lovers; this globally advanced nation is the perfect utopia for tech geeks – the wonders of Japan have something special for every visitor.
Japan is a futuristic country with a well-preserved cultural heritage.