A Country of Contrasts: Touring Japan
There are many countries you could choose to visit when travelling to the Far East but of all the possible destinations, Japan is one of the most fascinating to explore. From the bright lights and bustling streets of Tokyo to the beautiful forest scenery of the Japanese Alps, it is a country of contrasts: a country of rural idylls and modern cities where ancient traditions and modern technology coexist quite happily side by side.
Your Japanese Itinerary
Given the wide choice of interesting destinations within the country of Japan, it is a good idea to put together a basic itinerary before you leave for your holiday, whether on your own or with the assistance of a travel agency that specialises in excursions to this part of the world. Some of the places you may wish to include in your itinerary are listed below.
- Tokyo – No trip to Japan would be complete without spending a few days in the modern capital. To experience the full culture shock of touring the Far East for the first time, there are few better places to start than this city. Whilst there you can visit the Meiji Shrine, shop until you drop in Omotesando (where all the high-end fashion outlets are to be found), and of course the Imperial Palace: an impressive complex spread over nearly 3.5 km2.
- Kyoto – The capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, until Tokyo took over that mantle in 1868, Kyoto is one of a few cities in the country that still boasts many pre-war buildings. There are hundreds of temples and shrines to visit, one of the most popular of which is the Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine. After Tokyo, you will find this city offers a far more relaxing environment in which to explore the local culture.
- Takayama –An ancient town that was first settled around 12,000 BC, Takayama became a city in 1936, when it was merged with the neighbouring town of Onada. Despite its modern city status, it still features an old quarter, where you can admire buildings that were constructed hundreds of years ago in the Edo period. Souvenir hunters will find much to please them in this part of the city: there are numerous shops selling examples of local handicrafts and bottles of sakeproduced by the old town’s breweries. As Takayama is located in the Japanese Alps, you may like to try the local ski facilities if you are there at the right time of year.
- Okinawa –A 2 ½-hour flight from Tokyo, the main island of Okinawa is a great place to visit during the cherry blossom season, which starts as early as the middle of January in this part of Japan, thanks to the fact it is 400 miles south of the mainland.
If you don’t fancy making all your own travel arrangements, agencies such as Backyard Travel that specialise in Asia holidays will be able to help you book your flights, accommodation, and transportation in the country.