Japan: Land of the Rising Sun
Whether it be the ancient culture or innovative endeavors, or lush landscapes and coastal scenery, the hospitality of the Japanese, or combination of it all, Japan is irresistible the world over. The ancient and modern are in such harmony that futuristic trains buzz by kimono-clad ladies, temples stand in the shadows of neon lights, and soccer players hone their skills while sumo wrestlers train nearby. Imperial Palaces, stunning castles and Shinto shrines stand alongside glass structures, skyscrapers, and apartment blocks as Giant Buddha’s look over devotees and department stores bustle with activity. From the mountains of Sapporo to the southern islands, the diversity of this land is fascinating, and combined with one of the world’s most interesting cultures, picturesque traditional villages and modern cities, we can clearly see how Japan continues to draw us in.
10 DAYS / 9 NIGHTS
Explore Japan from her modern bustle in the city streets of Tokyo to the traditional alleys and ancient traditions of Takayama and Kanazawa before heading to Kyoto, once the Imperial capital for over one thousand years.
9 DAYS / 8 NIGHTS
Discover Japan's flourishing culture which has managed to maintain its tradition while becoming one of the most technologically-advanced countries in the world as you journey from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji, Kyoto, Nara & Osaka.
10 DAYS / 9 NIGHTS
Take in the Best of Japan as you discover Tokyo, Kamakura, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Kurashiki and Osaka on this 10 day journey.
14 DAYS / 13 NIGHTS
Unlock the mysteries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with journeys that open the door to lost civilizations that left behind centuries-old temples like Angkor Wat for today's modern travelers to enjoy.
9 DAYS / 8 NIGHTS
See the best of Japan over 9 days as you experience Tokyo's cutting edge modernity mixed with it's peaceful shrines and manicured gardens, Mt. Fuji & Hakone's wonders, and the traditional feel of Kyoto and Nara.
Natural Spas Are Hot In Japan
It appeared a gang of headhunters had arrived in this ancient Japanese city before we did. Heads were strewn all over the public beach - not a body in sight. We gasped at first sight of the heads and gingerly approached one wrapped in a towel. Then, as the eyes on the head opened, and a smile crept across the face, we jumped back. The villagers standing out of sight broke into laughter.
[ Continue Reading ]
When Japan Blooms, the World Comes to Visit
Though sakura, or cherry blossoms, bloom just a brief two to three weeks every spring, these delicate pink flowers are one of Japan’s defining hallmarks, and for good reason. Every year, from the end of March to mid April, the country is transformed by bursts of pale pink petals shivering against blue spring skies, and the whole country gears up for another festive sakura season.
Japan Grows Up At Colourful Ceremony
Each year, on the Saturday closest to November 15, children aged 3, 5 and 7 all across Japan dress up in traditional garments — kimonos for the girls and hakamas for the boys — and are taken by their parents and grandparents to shrines to participate in an ancient ceremony called Shichigosan. On a recent stopover in Tokyo, I got to see the colourful event up close while visiting this city’s incredible Meiji Shrine.
Stepping Back in Time at Hoshinoya Karuizawa
Excitement builds in Car 8 as the Shinkansen (bullet train) rumbles out of Tokyo Station. The usually reserved elderly Japanese are in a festive mood; lively chatter and laughter fills the car as the high-speed train whizzes past the lush rice fields that dominate the countryside just outside the capital. Anticipation hits a fever pitch when, about an hour later, the conductor announces we’re approaching Karuizawa.
Read More Stories About Japan on TraveLife
Kyoto is Japan, and a walk through the historic Gion district is what you are looking for. Traditional teahouses and townhouses lining the streets, lanterns swaying over wooden doors, and the place most likely to spot Geiko (Geisha), Gion is a great place for a walk. Go in the early morning and have it to yourself.
Japan’s icon, Mt. Fuji, seen either on guided tours or from your train window is on almost all travelers’ itineraries, and for good reason. Take a hike, or just visit the 5th station, Mt. Fuji is deserving of its praise.
The Kinkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto is among the most beautiful temples the world over. The grounds are maintained by what looks like a fine tooth comb, the sun light bounces off the golden hues of the temple in a myriad of ways, and the serene surroundings (although seen through the crowds) are a spectacular site to see.
Tokyo is a collection of neon lights, skyscrapers, colorful neighbourhoods, fashion, temples, tea houses, and almost everything in between. She’s a lively city, and only a few train stops feels like a world of difference. Stay for a few nights, see the sites, and then get lost trying to see more. Getting found is just as enjoyable.
You’ve seen the images, and Japan is where they can be seen. Japanese macaques can often be found steaming in an outdoor bath in the Jiokudani Valley. Go in the winter for some great photos.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
Japan has four seasons: Spring is when cherry blossoms fall and is one of the best times for a visit, although it can be quite busy from the first days of March till the last days of May, Japan's weather during this season is ideal. Summer arrives in Japan in June with the arrival of a typically 3-week long rainy season. Summer begins somewhat cool with the rainy season, but by late June much of Japan is characterized by hot, humid days. Autumn is characterized by cool, crisp days from October to December. Winter in Japan is cold and snow can be expected in certain areas of the country. Except for the extreme north, it is not very severe and is usually tempered by warm sunshine and blue skies. Winter runs from December to March.