Japan Trip Recommendations
More About Japan
Things to Do and See in Japan
Japan is a nation steeped in tradition and with near unparalleled natural beauty. Depending on how long you can stay, you may be able to make it to most or all of the major islands that make up the country. There are many things to do and see throughout the islands, but there are several well-known activities and sites that make just about every “top” list for Japan. You will want to make sure that your itinerary includes as many of these sites and activities as possible.
Tokyo is known for the almost other-worldly quality of its pace and near surreal modern-ness, as well as the selection and variety available at its restaurants and shopping districts. A trip to Japan isn’t complete without a visit to Tokyo, where you should experience at least one sushi and one ramen meal. If you have time for a visit to additional cities, make sure to include Osaka for a contrasting view of Japanese culture. But if you only have the time for one city beyond Tokyo, make sure it is the historic capital of Japan, Kyoto, for the architecture, the kaiseki formal dining, and the history.
Additional sites and activities you might want to include on your itinerary are the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, a sumo wrestling match, a kabuki theater performance, a tour of Himeji-Jo castle or any of the other remaining temples and castles of classical Japanese architecture, a trip to the base or top of Mt. Fuji, a taiko drumming performance, a tour of a miso or sake manufacturing plant, a kendo exhibition, or any one of hundreds of festivals and cultural events that take place throughout the year.
Japanese Climate and Weather
Japan is made up of several large islands and many smaller islands that stretch from near Siberia’s Kamchatka peninsula in the North to just shy of the Tropic of Cancer in the South. Because of the amount of North-South distance that the country covers, its climate is highly variable.
Okinawa, the largest of the southern Ryuku Islands, has a sub-tropical climate with rainy and dry seasons. By contrast, the majority of the large islands have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons.
Transportation Options in Japan
Japan is well known for having very well developed transportation systems. The country has a solid road system and though you could rent a car to travel to some of the more rural locations on your itinerary, the chances are good that you won’t need to.
Japan has one of the best, if not the best, rail system of any country in the world. Bullet trains, some of which can travel in excess of 200 miles per hour, crisscross the country, transporting passengers between the nation’s major and medium-sized cities. If traveling in Japan by rail, you may wish to consider a Japan Rail Pass to make your trip that much easier.
Any town of reasonable size will also have taxis available for hire, as well as mass transit options to help you get around.
Japan’s Hotels & Resorts
Japan has a wide range of lodging options, as well. From the capsule hotels in Tokyo and other major cities designed for commuters that need a minimal place to stay in the city overnight; to the hourly love hotels; the traditional rural inns (ryokans); the five-star luxury hotels; and spa and resort accommodations, Japan has some place for just about any taste.
Keep in mind, though, there are traditions of etiquette that the Japanese expect visitors to adhere to when staying in a Japanese hotel or inn. Make sure to research what is expected of guests where you plan to stay. Our in-country contacts will assist you with all of the necessary arrangements and accommodations that you may require.
Unique Adventures and Experiences in Japan
There are many unique experiences to be had in Japan. If you visit the country in spring, make sure to make room in the itinerary for a cherry blossom viewing party. If you’re in Tokyo, make sure you take time out to visit a pachinko parlor. Here are a few more unique ideas to add to your Japan itinerary.
Visit a rural onsen, or traditional Japanese hot spring resort. These resorts, open all year, combine the Japanese love for soaking in hot water with the Japanese reverence for the beauty of nature. Bonus points for visiting in the winter when snow falls softly around the deep heat of the pools. Double bonus points for visiting Jigokudani Monkey Park to witness the Japanese Macaques enjoying a dip in the hot springs.
While in Tokyo, make sure that you make time to tour the world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji. If you visit early enough, you can witness a live tuna auction with bidders from around the world competing for the best of the best sashimi-quality tuna. However, visits are very limited to a small number of people, so let us make those reservations for you in advance, along with all your other Japan travel requirements.
If you have the time to visit one of the smaller southern Japanese islands, Naoshima is an excellent choice for a side trip. Located off shore from the city of Okayama, between Hiroshima and Osaka, Naoshima is an island dedicated to fine art. There, visitors will find many museums, galleries, outdoor exhibitions, and boutique hotels that cater to the art lover in all of us.
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