GMT +9 hours
An intoxicating country of contrasts, Japan's stunning landscapes, fascinating history and unique culture is sure to inspire.
Japan's unique culture makes it a fascinating holiday destination. From the modern, high-tech capital of Tokyo to the ancient imperial city of Kyoto, this rich country has something for everyone. Mount Fuji is an impressive sight, along with the historic Buddha statues and temples in the region.
Best time to visit
Spring (from March until May)
A gentle breeze rustles through the canopy of candyfloss above, sending petals fluttering from the cherry trees in a shower of confetti. Follow a winding path carpeted with a blanket of blossom across the graceful curve of a stone bridge. Pass a tranquil pond shimmering with koi fish swimming lazily in the hazy morning sun and breathe in the sweet fragrance of the delicate blossom. Welcome to Tokyo: a heaving city of dizzying dimensions and flashing neon lights where gleaming skyscrapers tower over a swirling sea of people but tranquil gardens and serene temples lie just around the corner. Technology stores spill over the latest gadgets and Harajuku girls parade the latest eye-catching fashions, yet the city’s roots are firmly placed in history with ancient shrines and the world’s oldest continuous hereditary monarchy.
From Tokyo, head southwest to snow-capped Mount Fuji, a tribute to Japan’s sublime beauty. Towering at 12,388 feet, it is Japan’s highest mountain and can even be seen from Tokyo on a clear day. Revered as one of Japan’s ‘Three Holy Mountains’, it attracts thousands of pilgrims every summer who hike to its sacred summit.
If you stay in the ancient imperial city of Kyoto you can explore Nijo Castle, where each step on the ‘nightingale floor’ omits a squeak designed to warn against intruder. If you want to immerse yourself in the culture, visit Kanikakuni – a former geisha house. Here, you can dress up in a kimono and learn about the history of this traditional form of entertainment. The high-rise buildings and façades of the imperial city of Kyoto believe the hidden treasures that lie beyond. The former capital until 1867 and long regarded as the cultural heart of Japan, Kyoto boasts 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a plethora of temples and shrines. The city is a proud guardian of its ancient traditions and its winding alleys lead to 17th Century teahouses, tranquil gardens and the famous geisha and maiko district of Gion.
Despite its traffic past Hiroshima has emerged from the dark cloud of the devastating 1945 nuclear bombing as a vibrant and thriving city that boasts tree-lined boulevards, fantastic museums, historic monuments , enchanting gardens and excellent cuisine. Dubbed the ’City of Water’ due to the six rivers that flow through it, Hiroshima is famous for its delicious oysters and t is the gateway to the beautiful island of Miyajima, the Island of Shrines.
Japan’s second largest city is a buzzing aquapolis often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’ due to its numerous canals and river channels. Osaka is also known as the ‘gastronomist’s town’ and ‘the stomach of Japan’ and it embraces its status of a food-loving city, boasting an array of restaurants and food stalls and within its underground maze of shopping malls.
As the final destination on the famous Silk Route, Nara adopted influences from a wealth of different cultures and it is a veritable repository of cultural and historic treasures including some of the country’s oldest temples. The fascinating city can easily be explored in a day.
Create your holiday
Japan is the perfect destination if, like me, you enjoy visiting a busy and fashionable city like Tokyo for shopping, followed by somewhere traditional like Mount Koya: a spiritual place populated by monks and beautiful temples, offering the perfect chance to embrace the local culture.