Welcome to Japan
Combining ancient culture with exquisite natural landscapes and dazzling modernity, Japan is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean with dense cities, imperial palaces, mountainous national parks and thousands of shrines and temples.
Shinkansen bullet trains connect the main islands of Kyushu (with Okinawa’s subtropical beaches), Honshu (home to Tokyo and Hiroshima’s atomic-bomb memorial) and Hokkaido (famous for skiing). Tokyo, the capital, is known for skyscrapers, shopping and pop culture.
8 Reasons Japan should be on your bucket list
Capsule & pod hotels are now both luxurious and cool – Your basic needs are catered for, from luxury toiletries, spa treatments and high-tech amenities such as air humidifiers and tablets. This is truly something you need to experience at least once.
Japan has the petals of beauty – Cherry blossom season is as popular with Japanese people and visitors alike, making the spring one of the most popular times to visit the country, along with autumn, when the leaves of Japan’s forests blaze red and gold.
You can choose between Disney or Studio Ghibli – Tokyo is home to one of America’s biggest entertainment exports, with a Disneyland theme park located just east of the capital at Urayasu, Chiba. It opened in 1983 and was the first Disney theme park outside of the US.
Bathe in a forest – The practice of forest bathing, confusingly, does not involve any water or bathing. Instead it is the translation for Shinrin-yoku, which applies to time spent appreciating a forest for health reasons.
Japan has holy deer! – The huge Todaiji temple here is not just impressive for the size of its wooden doors, pillars and halls, as well as the 15m-tall bronze buddha inside, but also for the throngs of white-tailed deer that hang around outside.
Lose yourself in a rockery – The country’s most famous zen garden is housed at Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto. Its so large that its 15 stones cannot be viewed all at once.
Experience what its like to live like a monk – Koyasan (Mount Koya) is a sacred hilltop village covered with cedar forests and more than one hundred temples. Spend a night in a temple-inn, experiencing what it is like to live a life dedicated to Shingon Buddhism.
Japan boasts the best powder on Earth – Japanese snow has been called the “lightest and fluffiest known to man”. In its snowiest years, resorts in Hokkaido, such as Niseko, Rusutsu and Furano can receive up to 17m of the white stuff, making it the holy grail of powder skiing.
Top 3 travel tips
Google maps is a MUST and will cut your travel time in half going from place to place. Being in a country where the language is so different google maps will be a life saver.
Having the right subway ticket is a time saver
Subway tickets in Japan can be tricky, to combat buying the wrong tickets, a Pasmo or Suica Card in Tokyo is your best bet. These can be purchased once you arrive at the subway and really do make a difference when it comes to getting around the country.
A JR Rail pass will get you almost anywhere
Get a JR (Japan Rail) Pass if you’re planning to leave Tokyo. For seven days, you pay a fee and this allows you to travel any Japan rail including several different shinkansen (high-speed) trains.