A Nation of Contrast, Where the Past Meets the Future
Beauty of Japan
Visit Japan, a country with four distinct seasons. Each highlights a different, but equally spectacular aspect of the country’s natural beauty. In spring the renowned cherry blossoms delight the senses. In autumn, experience the treasures of Japan among the warm foliage of reds, oranges and yellows.
Discover an amazing variety of places from the modern cities of Tokyo and Osaka to the peaceful countryside of Takayama. Explore Japanese tradition and culture in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, with its thousands of shrines and temples. Visit historic Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome and feed the deer on Miyajima Island.
Outside the thriving city-centers of Japan lay regions where breathtaking landscapes meet fascinating traditions and modern culture. Each region has its own dialect, customs, and unique traditional culture, and offers striking contrast in everything, from the style of traditional performing arts, to the taste of the food.
Japan is made up of four main islands and divided into 9 regions, which are split into 47 smaller prefectures. Those regions are not formally specified; they do not have elected officials nor are they corporate bodies. However, the practice of ordering prefectures based on their geographic region is traditional. They are numbered based on their location from north to south.
Japan for All Seasons
Cherry Blossom Season – The Japanese have been romanced by cherry blossoms for centuries, and even created a word of symbolize heading outdoors to appreciate them “hanami” which literally translates as “looking at flowers”. When you gaze on the sea of soft pink flowers, it’s easy to see why both the Japanese and international visitors are so enamored. Starting in late January in the sub-tropical south, the blossoms sweep up the country, reaching Tokyo and Kyoto in approximately the first week of April, though this can vary due to the preceding weather. In the two weeks after they first bloom, locals and visitors alike stroll, sit and picnic beneath the laden boughs. They are particularly stunning when lit up by lanterns at twilight.
Autumn Leaves – Japan’s deep and rich autumn colors travel the opposite way to the cherry blossom, starting in the very north in September and travelling south, reaching their peak in Tokyo, Kyoto and the surrounding areas from mid-November to early December. In the park and temple gardens of the cities the leaves of the multitude of maple and gingko trees turn vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange.
Sun and Snow – Japan’s summer, June to August, maybe hot and humid but it is the season for festivals and fireworks. Enjoy impromptu celebrations or escape to the mountains to find the cooler climes and maybe do some hiking, this is also the only time of year that you are able to climb Mt Fuji. In the winter, outside the cities, the country becomes a snow-covered wonderland. Vibrant ski resorts spring into action, ice festivals take place (Sapporo’s is the world’s biggest) and the Japanese Macaques earn their Snow Monkey moniker. And there is nothing better than the glorious warm waters of an onsen on a cold winter’s day!
Around the world, there is no other country that speaks the tongue of the gourmand as well as Japan. Not content with sticking purely to Japanese specialties, of which there are many, Japanese chefs have a reputation for finding their calling in any given cuisine, the dedicating their lives to mastering it.
Combining the best of Japan’s cuisine, mixing local best kept secrets with world renowned restaurants, and the autumn leaves for the best season to visit Japan… Can you resist?
Explore Japan by Rail
Ultra-modern, slick, fast and reliable… step into the future and experience Japan by Rail sit back and relax as you travel on some of the world’s fastest high-speed trains, including the world-famous Bullet Train (Shinkansen). Travel through awe-inspiring landscapes to thriving modern metropolises or traditional rural villages. Discover hot springs, volcanoes or cool mountain regions.
Japan Rail Passes are the most economical way to see this beautiful and diverse country and are only available for purchase outside of Japan. There are 2 classes of travel to choose from: Ordinary (second class) and Green (first class).
A “Ryokan” is a traditional Japanese guesthouse. By staying in a ryokan, you can experience age-old Japanese hospitality and customs. You’ll change into a Yukata (cotton kimono) after taking an Onsen (hot spring bath), and will sleep on a Futon (mattress), put down directly on a Tatami (straw mat) floor. Some Ryokans are in old wooden buildings, and others have modern architecture. Most have “daiyokujo” (a public bathroom). Some have a mix of Japanese and Western-style bedrooms.
Japan is a chain of volcanic islands with natural hot springs found all over the country. These treasures can be effective in treating injuries and illness as well as relieving fatigue. Experiencing an Onsen is a great way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture. Rotenburo (open air spas) are extremely popular. A must for the cultural connoisseur.
The word “Izakaya” derives from the Japanese characters “to stay” and “sake shop” Traditionally places to drink, izakaya are ubiquitous in Japan. Many izakaya chefs are even gaining international renown for their dishes, and you will find top notch sake and ingredients carefully sourced by the proprietor.
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