Few countries are as utterly unique as Japan, with fantastic food, fascinating culture, wonderful wildlife and beautiful landscapes to explore. Here are our tips on how to make the most of your own visit
1. Head for the hills
The Japanese like a good hike. On any given weekend the trains are filled with people wearing sensible waterproof coats and hiking boots, heading off into the japanese countryside. They’ll be back at work on monday, of course. but that’s the beauty of hiking in Japan. The country packs an awful ton into even the shortest of walks.
A trek in island , offers bamboo forests, pristine lakes and hidden temples. simply don’t forget your bear bell. On issue is surely, whether or not you’re hiking the hills around Nikko or the two-hour tori-covered tail at Fushimi Inari Shrine, you’re sure a very distinctive trekking expertise.
2. Challenge – and delight – your tastebuds
Tokyo has more Michelin stars than London and Paris combined. but the good news is that even the smallest restaurants offer something to delight foodies. join the salarymen for a lunchtime bento box and you’ll never be happy with a meal deal from Boots ever again.
You’ll have no problem finding a Katsu curry, tempura vegetables or the ubiquitous sushi. Just look for their plastic approximation outside the restaurant of your choice and point. but it’s at the extremes that Japanese food gets very interesting. whether that’s paper-thin slices of Hida beef, sourced from cows feed on beer, or Hachinoko (wasp larvae), it’s a culinary experience you’ll never forget
3. Lose yourself in the Japanese wilderness
Hokkaido is Japan’s wild frontier, especially in winter, once cars should be swapped for snowmobiles and huskies, cranes dance, hot springs steam and also the sparkling city Snow festival comes to city. If you’ve ever wanted to see a two-storey ice carving of hello Kitty, this is the place to come.
Outside of sapporo, hokkaido is Japan’s wild frontier, one of the largest and least-populated regions, home to the indigenous Ainu culture and a few of the country’s oldest national parks. It’s wherever you’ll notice the country’s best ski resort, Niseko. Save time for a restorative dip in associate degree onsen. You’ll find all across the region; some inside, others simply outdoor rock pools.
Can’t make it to hokkaido for the winter? Not a problem. in the summer, it’s an area to explore colourful lavender fields, mountains and lakes, and to spot brown bears and other life.
4. Embrace tradition in Kyoto
In many ways, Kyoto is the excellent encapsulation of the Japan of everyone’s imagination. 1,000 years as Japan’s capital has blessed it with over 2,000 temples, ancient traditions and how of life that has modified little over the centuries. From totally made-up geisha girls scurrying past holding white parasols to brightly painted wooden bridges, there’s an Instagram moment around every corner.
Take a guided walk through Gion after dark to gain an insight into the world of geiko (Kyoto’s name for geisha) and maiko (apprentice geisha). Take a course in calligraphy, tea-ceremony, sake-tasting or kimono-wearing. Wander through the five,000-plus orange-red torii (shrine gates) of Fushimi Inari Taisha. this is the Japan you travelled to see. Immerse yourself in it.
5. Celebrate under the sakura
The start of spring will only mean one thing – a sea of cherry blossom is starting to wash across Japan, fleetingly covering the country in delicate buds. These fragile flowers only last about two weeks – however there are few sights more magical.
The sakura (cherry blossom) is the de facto national flower of Japan. the japanese see the trees’ brief bloom as a symbol of the impermanence of life. They pay homage to the flower at hanami – blossom-watching parties – where they eat, drink and dance beneath the branches.
The sakura seems across the nation, however some spots are higher than others. Kyoto could be a good place to see the blooms, that drape the city’s extensive shrines (such as calming Heian-jingu) and parks; head to Maruyama-Koen to sit beneath a beautiful pink cover. The castle city of Hirosaki holds the Sakura Matsuri festival, whereas mountainous Yoshinoyama is home to more than 30,000 cherry trees. In Tokyo, witness good blooms in Inokashira and Ueno parks.
6. Lose yourself in Tokyo
Tokyo strikes you initially as being like some giant machine, with cars and consumers providing fuel to the around-the-clock crankshaft. Some 23 million individuals live and work here, among rammed sushi joints and sleepless corporate towers. The skylines are electric-indigo; the soundtrack is a barrage of candied pop tunes and rattling subway trains; the speed of life, on 1st impression, is breathless. Then you’ll take a turn and stumble upon a scene of quite serenity, seemingly centuries old.
What other city offers you a theme park dedicated to manga and one dedicated to onsens (hot springs), right next to each other? Or the chance to browse the latest gadgets and the ancient traditions of rassling within the same afternoon?
And fear not, there’s plenty to do in the city if you’re on a budget as well. Wander through Tsukiji, the world’s largest seafood market or quietly contemplation at Meiji Shrine, a calm garden oasis within the centre of Tokyo. Tokyo is many things, but it’s never boring.
7. Buy everything you need from a vending machine
Vending machines 1st appeared in Japan in the 1950s and quickly became a fixture on Japanese streets. Today, Japan has the highest per capita rate of vending machines within the world, offering a dizzying array of product accessible any day of the week and at any hour of the day.
Whatever you’ve got a yen for, in Japan there’s a machine that may sell it to you. Eggs, flowers, crepes, magazines, a change of underwear, even a keg of brewage or a will of hot low, are all solely some coins or a card transaction away. it’s no exaggeration to mention that you just may get by in Japan while not ever walking into a shop. give it a go. You’ll be surprised what you’ll find. And by the manner. Pocari Sweat tastes higher than it sounds.