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Overview to Japan: Travel Guide and Tourist Information

Japan

Japan is a real travel experience. For non-Japanese speakers, the country can be novel to the point of being baffling and impenetrable, a maze of linguistic and cultural obstacles to get around... And that’s the fun of it!

The larger island of Honshu (or ‘the Mainland’) contains most of the major cities. Tokyo, busy, crowded and noisy also promises a seriously good time. Not far from the relentless activity of the capital, Mt Fuji (on Hakone) makes a great place to get away from it all.

Of the other islands, Hokkaido, the largest after Honshu, is sparsely populated, and offers outdoor pursuits like skiing and hiking. For beaches, subtropical temperatures and some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world, Okinawa is the place to head for.

Right across the country there are countless temples, palaces and stunning gardens. All are at their most beautiful with the coming of spring, when the whole country is dappled with the pink and white cherry blossom.

The city of Nikko is home to the Toshogu Shrine, one of the most important of Japan’s religious monuments. Nagoya boasts the striking Nagoya Castle, whilst the Old Town of Takayama stands alongside Kanazawa and Kyoto for the wealth of its traditional Japanese sights.

Groups would be well-advised to hire a car, as Japan has a couple of sensational road trips: The ‘Romantic Road’ and the root of the poet Matsuo Basho, the ‘Narrow Road to the Deep North’. Another way of getting around the country is the infamous ‘Bullet’ train, one of the most exhilarating train rides in the world.

Traveling in Japan is defined by apparently contrasting characteristics: ancient Zen-like serenity, peace and calm on the one hand, impossibly frenetic ultramodern activity on the other. It’s just one of the things that make a journey there such a compelling experience.


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