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Japan - A fascinating mix of ancient and modern cultures
September 17, 2017, 2:16 pm

Japan is revered as being a destination that makes every type of traveler feel right at home. From big cities to quaint temples to adventure trails and snow slopes, Japan is a diverse landscape that does an incredible job at blending a modern lifestyle with ancient traditions. A trip here is sure to be one that is exciting, informative, and even inspiring.

Tokyo: Busy, vibrant, and often the first point of contact for travelers, Tokyo is Japan’s lively capital city. A visitor can easily spend a few days dining on fresh seafood, wandering through the many museums, gazing up at the skyscrapers, and enjoying a lifestyle of opulence and culture. To give a sense of how busy this city of 13 million people can be, the intersection at Shibuya Crossing is known as ‘The Scramble.’

Osaka: Not your average port city, Osaka has a range of fun things to do for visitors. Osaka hosts 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 foot carts, and shops. Families should check out Kids Plaza, where children can let their imaginations run wild with dress-up areas, hands-on science experiments and plenty of room to run around.

Kobe: Located on the harbor with incredible vistas of the nearby mountains, Kobe offers a variety of activities, adventures, shops, and restaurants to explore. For a well-rounded itinerary, include activities like relaxing at the Arima Onsen, a hot spring resort in the middle of Kobe, riding above the city on the Kobe Ropeway, learning about our planet at the Earthquake Museum, and enjoying the oasis known as the Sorakuen Garden. Trekkers should walk up Mount Rokko for a panoramic sight of Kobe and neighboring Osaka.

Kyoto: A sacred city with iconic temples, shrines, palaces, gardens, and bamboo forests, Kyoto often tops the list of people’s favorite Japanese cities for good reason. In Kyoto, traditional culture is rich and vibrant, seen weaved in the citizen’s daily life.

Takayama: One of the few Japanese cities to cling tight to its architectural roots, Takayama does a fantastic job preserving its heritage, especially in the Old Town district, where colorful old merchants’ houses line the streets. During the feudal ages, skilled artists and carpenters took pride in their craft which is why so many of the buildings have an ornate flair. For the best experience, visit during the Takayama Festival, a celebration that happens twice a year and celebrates the arrival of spring and autumn. The festival features performances, incredible floats, and draws crowds hailing from all over Japan.

Nara: Captivating and peaceful, Nara is a city in Japan with a devoted Buddhist population who find peace inside the Nara’s many temples daily. Nara houses artwork and cultural pieces dating all the way back to the 8th century, making it one of the most culturally significant cities in the country. Beloved sites include the Todai-ji with its gargantuan Buddha, the Kasuga-taisha shring, and the Nara Park where you can browse through temples, the museum, and spot wildlife.

Nikko: A vibrant town located at the entrance of Nikko National Park, Nikko is home to Toshogu, Japan’s most beloved and lavishly decorated shrine. After standing in awe at one of the world’s most beautiful constructions, head further into the national park to explore the waterfalls of Kegon Falls, Ryuzu Falls, and the mountain of Mt. Nantai. Outdoor enthusiasts will also love walking around Lake Chuzenji, a placid lake set on the foothills of the national park.

Sapporo: Located in the mountains and renowned for its cold brew, Sapporo is one of the best places to visit in Japan for thrill seekers and adventure travelers. Sapporo hosts ice sculpture festivals, ski and snowboard competitions, and is a prime base for athletes wanting to hit the slopes themselves.

Yokohama: Walking around some streets in Yokohama, you might think you are in China. This city has a thriving Chinatown and Chinese influence with hundreds of restaurants, shops, and decorations centering on that central theme. Home to 3.7 million residents, this big city considers itself Tokyo’s largest rival, citing its high standard of living and opulent skyscrapers as back-up for this claim.

Izu Hanto: Fit for tourists, Izu Hanto has a plethora of relaxing and adventurous activities to choose from that are a far cry from big-city sightseeing. The island has many hot springs, luxury resorts, calm beaches, and a rugged coastline ideal for exploring. The city hosts the vibrant Kawazu Cherry Tree Festival, where tourists can appreciate the country’s most iconic blossom with all senses.

Chichijima: Perhaps one of the most remote places in Southeast Asia, the faraway island of Chichijima is a hidden island with a tropical vibe. Water lovers will delight thanks to its surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, whale watching, and more. Interestingly, the journey here requires over a twenty hour boat ride, which is what has kept the island so hidden from the main tourist trail and preserves its magic.
Shikoku: The smallest of Japan’s main islands, Shikoku is one of the best places to visit in Japan due to its religious importance which is why it is often dubbed as the ‘Spiritual Island.’ Many devotees embark on the Shikoku pilgrimage, a 1,200 kilometer walk that takes Buddhist pilgrims to 88 temples and many other religious sites. Visitors can embark on the entire walk, or go to just the main sites that catch their interest.




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