Miyajima Island, Japan

Japan has a diverse landscape from big cities to quaint Temples to adventure trails and snow slopes, it does an incredible job at blending a modern lifestyle with ancient traditions.

Tokyo is Japan’s vibrant capital city. The most popular spot to visit is the intersection at Shibuya Crossing known as ‘The Scramble.’ In Harajuku, you can watch Japanese fashionistas use the main street as a runway, shop for the clothes yourself, view Anime collections and enjoy the overdose of colour. For fresh seafood, head to the Tsukiji Market, where thousands of tons of seafood are traded daily. Visit Akihabara to get your techie fix among the steel and glass skyscrapers. Then head to the Sensoji Shrine, the oldest Temple in Tokyo or to the Meiji Shine, the Imperial Palace and the Museum of Modern Art. Stop by the Kite Museum, the movie animation Studio Ghibli Museum or play arcade games at Gigo Sega Building. One of the world's largest arcades, offering six floors of the oldest arcade games to virtual reality experiences.

Cherry Blossom or Sakura viewing is a centuries old tradition in Japan and one of the top things to do in Tokyo. For about a week in Spring, people flock to parks to see the trees blossom in incredible soft pink colours, petals falling and floating like snowflakes.

Osaka is home to Universal Studios Japan, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, and Osaka Castle Park. The heart of the city, Dotonbori, is a place filled with flashy billboards, scrumptious dining options ranging from fine restaurants to food carts and shops. A must see in Osaka include the Open Air Museum of Old Japanese Farmhouses and Bunraku theatre’s, where you can see the ancient art of Japanese puppetry. Osaka Castle is a must to visit or you can jump on a Gozabune boat and just admire the 16th Century Fortress from the water. Osaka is also home to many Onsen (Thermal Baths), which might feel like a spa but are actually a unique cultural experience worth trying out.

Kyoto is a sacred city of iconic Temples, Shrines, Palaces, Gardens. This former Ancient Capital of Japan is known for being home to a long list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Byodo-in Temple, the vast Samurai Nijo Castle and the iconic Kinkaku-ji Temple or ‘Golden Pavilion’ with walls covered in gold leaf also the Kyyomiza-dera, Ginkaku-ji ‘Silver Temple’. The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is one of Kyoto's most stunning sights and then there are the thousands of orange-red Torii Gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine. For an unusual sightseeing experience, visit the entertainment district of Gion, where if you are lucky you might see a Geisha and Mieko walking in the streets in front of the folk wooden houses. This is also a great place to experience the Ochaya ‘Teahouses’.

Less than 30 minutes from Kyoto by high-speed train, is Nara, best known as the home of Nara Park, where over 1,000 friendly, curious deer roam freely and often approach people at close range. Visit the Tōdai-ji Temple and the Todaiji Museum, which dates back to the year 752 CE and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shrine is home to Japan's largest bronze Buddha statue at 15 metres tall.

Mt. Fuji sits at 3776 metres and is Japan's highest mountain. This nearly perfect shaped volcano has been worshiped as a sacred mountain and experienced big popularity among artists and common people throughout the centuries. Another easy way to view Mt. Fuji is by train. Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo in the direction of Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, and view the mountain around Shin-Fuji Station on the right hand side of the train, approx. 40-45 minutes into the journey. If you want to enjoy Mt. Fuji at a more leisurely pace you should head to the Fuji Five Lake ‘Fujigoko’ region at the northern foot of the mountain or to Hakone. Mt. Fuji is officially open for climbing during July and August via several routes.

Hakone is a peaceful mountainous village with hot springs with Mt. Fuji as a backdrop. Take a traditional Onsen bath in a public bath house or inn for a relaxing experience unique to this part of the country. You will find peace at the Hakone Shrine at the end of Lake Ashinoko, a stunning crater lake. You can hike through the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, with several well maintained hiking trails where Hakone is an ideal base. A local favorite is the hike from Owakudani to Lake Ashinoko because of its views of Mt. Fuji.

Hiroshima, the city devasted by a nuclear bomb during World War II has become a place to pay homage to those who lost their lives at the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. With two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Itsukushima Shrine and the Bomb Dome in Peace Memorial Park. In the heart of Hiroshima, you will find the feudal Hiroshima Castle, covered in black lacquer and ornate wood. Home to a Samurai Museum and a Shrine, the Castle is popular for its weekly Samurai performances outside the castle walls. A day trip from Hiroshima is Miyajima Island, can be reached via a picturesque ferry ride. Visitors come to view the Itsukushima Shrine and the famous ‘floating’ Torii Gate, an optical illusion during high tide that causes the gate to seemingly float on the blue waters.

Other places to visit while in Japan include Nagoya with a visit to the Atsuta Jingu (Shrine), Nagoya Castle, the Museum Meiji-mura (Meiji Village), the Temples of Ōsu and Legoland Japan.

Okinawa is situated on an Archipelago of 160 Islands. As Okinawa lies off the Coast of Kyushu, it enjoys a mostly subtropical climate and is known as one of the best places to come in Japan if you are looking for some sand, sun and surf. Sapporo, Capital of the mountainous northern Japanese Island of Hokkaido, is famous for its Snow Festival in February attracting ice sculptors from all over the country, who build massive ice castles and statues that are illuminated with colourful lights at night. It is renowned for its cold brew Sapporo Beer Museum, one of the best places to visit in Japan. Enjoy a visit to Asahiyama Zoo, Mount Hakodate where you get a panoramic view of the city of Hakodate below, Shikisai-no-Oka where several dozen kinds of flowers bloom in the wide fields and the large vicinity of Biei Town becomes like a carpet of blossoms. For skiers, Sapporo offers perfect powder snow conditions, over 1,000 kilometers of pistes, and numerous night skiing facilities. A tour of the Ishiya Chocolate Factory to try their white chocolate specialty is a must.

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