Japan’s capital city, with its mixture of traditional and modern urban life, is the most popular tourist destination in the country. Sensoji Temple is one of its iconic historical sites, and the Imperial Palace provides a traditional and royal air.Tokyo blends the ancient with the new, from shrines to karaoke bars. Just walking the streets of this hyperactive city can be an energizing experience. When Tokyo’s pace gets too frenetic, visitors recommend unwinding at the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
Kyoto is known as the “City of Ten Thousand Temples”, and it is at these temples, shrines, and gardens that you’ll see some of Japan’s finest autumn leaves. The colours begin to come out in around mid-November, and can last until early December. Evening is often the best time to visit, as the trees are lit up to their best advantage.
The confident, stylish city is a shopping hub, with fabulous restaurants and nightlife.Top city attractions include the aquarium, Osaka Castle, Universal Studios Japan and the futuristic Floating Garden Observatory.
Nara, once known as Heijo, was the first permanent capital of Japan, established in 710.The city is the birthplace of the fundamentals of Japanese tradition. In spite of an obvious Chinese influence in architecture, UNESCO designated Nara’s landmarks and designated them as World Heritage Sites.
World-renowned because of the atomic bomb, Hiroshima today is known as the global peace center. A trip to Hiroshima is best kicked off with a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.The Peace Memorial Museum, located right next to the dome that was the only structure to survive at ground zero (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), is a must-see for visitors here.The museum places a strong emphasis on the elimination of all nuclear weapons and international peace.
Okinawa, a group of islands stretching southward from Japan, is the country’s equivalent of Hawaii. The islands have a unique indigenous culture and are popular for their sub-tropical climate, beautiful beaches, some of the world’s best diving spots and its incredible Churaumi Aquarium.
Kamakura was once an important town, the seat of a military government that ruled Japan for a hundred years. Today, it’s a relaxed seaside resort sometimes called the Kyoto of eastern Japan because of its many temples and shrines. Its most famous sight is the Daibutsu, a huge bronze Buddha statue surrounded by trees, but the town’s ancient Zen temples are equally compelling.
A top ski and snowboarding destination, Hakuba has plenty of snow and nearly perfect powder. Spend the day swooshing down one of the areas 200+ trails, then end with an après ski at one of the area’s cozy pubs or cafes.