There is a unique blend between tradition and contemporary in this island nation, where zen gardens, old temples and shrines stand nearby the skyscrapers. Castles and palaces are talking about history, while bullet trains take you through spectacular landscapes to cities packed with world-class restaurants and shopping. From the vibrant and fashionable Tokyo to the peaceful and cultural Kyoto, from the blasting Osaka nightlife to the solitary Mount Fuji, or pristine beaches in Okinawa, Japan’s big attractions never fail to impress deeply .
Japanese cuisine has a wide range of ingredients, preparation methods and meticulous presentation. There’s not just sushi, the variety of regional dishes is astounding, ranging from ramen (noodle soups) and dumplings to takoyaki (octopus balls) and some of the finest beef in the world. There is, also, kaiseki – a multi-course, fine-dining-style banquet. Besides any dish, Japanese serve the traditional sake (rice wine), as well as whisky or beer, Japanese people being some of the biggest beer fans in Asia. The truly impressive thing is to find delicious food not only in the Michelin starred restaurants, but also at street food stalls.
The archetypal Asian metropolis, Tokyo is, essentially, the high-tech center of Japan, with interesting clubs, bars, technology markets and fashion stores. Besides the heritage sites of the city, there are many other things the city has to offer, such as eating a just-caught sushi in the fish market at morning time, dancing rock’n’roll with the the Rockability Club subculture’s members, every Sunday in Yoyogi Park, or trying to fit in with the cool kids in ultra-hip Harajuku.
The modern Osaka’s Dotonburi area is the city’s it location to know it, with a range of endless restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theatres, or gaming shops. When the sun goes down and the lights come on, the whole area takes on a carnival atmosphere. Fashionable young people dressed up in their fine clothes are being admired by, both, locals and visitors. But the spiritual atmosphere of the city remains in the significant architectural masterpieces Osaka Castle and the Shitennoji Buddhist temple, beautiful places with plenty of history.
Japan’s ancient capital, Kyoto is unquestionably the country’s most beautiful city and plays home to almost 2,000 temples and shrines and has 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites in and around the city. This is the place to go to and assimilate more of the ancient Japanese way of life, by trying the stunning Ryokan accommodation and wearing a woven silk kimono, when walking around the winding streets.
Just a few km away, the peaceful and spiritual Nara revealed even more of the country’s rewarding sights, where deer freely roam in the park, site of Todai-ji, a Buddhist temple complex.
If you love nature, you will adore Japan. The scenery is sublime and varied – mountains, volcanoes, deep turquoise volcano lakes. You can ski the powdery slopes of Hokkaido, revel in the springtime beauty of the sakura cherry blossoms, sandboard over dune sands in the cute Tottori town, soak up in the sun on the beaches and turquoise waters of subtropical Okinawa, hike in the beautiful rural area of Hakone and climb up the nearby iconic Mount Fuji.
The unexpectedly beautiful landscapes, charmingly courteous people, its tangible sense of history and cherished tradition, part of mysterious culture make Japan is unique and, even if the travel budget will be serious affected here, as it’s one of the world’s most expensive countries, you’ll, probably, never, ever regret it.