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Japan is a country located in the North Pacific Ocean made up of four main islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. Tokyo is the largest city and the country's capital. Most of Japan’s inhabitants live on the coast and along the rivers. The country is an important economic power and especially known for the production of electronic goods and motor vehicles. Osaka, one of the largest cities and a major port on Honshu Island, is an industrial, financial and commercial centre with a population of around 2,500,000. Kyoto, with a current population of around 1,400,000 was the capital of Japan from 794 to1868 and has many historic sites. Nara, not far from Osaka, is known for its temples and shrines.

If you travel to Japan, one thing is certain. Whatever your interests, whatever your tastes, Japan has it in spades: a fascinating history underlined by both ancient and modern architecture, unique cultural traditions and cutting-edge technology, a fusion of cuisine, chic shopping and last but not least, a stunning natural world ranging from tropical beaches to mountain peaks.

When to go.
To some extent this depends on which region you are visiting. Winter is from December to February and is cold with a lot of snow on the Sea of Japan side of the country. From June to August temperatures and humidity are high, except in Hokkaido in the north. In May there is a rainy season of a few weeks and from August to October you are in the typhoon season which can affect travel in some regions. So the best time to visit is in spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November) when rainfall is low and the weather is mild. The cherry blossom season is from March to April – another reason for choosing to visit at that time.

Where to stay.

In addition to the kind of hotels western visitors are used to all over the world, Japan offers some very different accommodation. Tourists are welcome at Temple Lodgings, where you stay in rooms attached to a Buddhist temple and are invited to join the morning prayers. Two vegetarian meals are typically included in an overnight stay. A Capsule Hotel, as its name suggests, offers a small space with just a bed, a locker, a shared bathroom and, of course, a television. These are really only meant for men who, in Japanese culture, go out in the city after work and do not necessarily go home before work the next morning. For people travelling on a low budget, Dormitories in major cities offer a cheap alternative. They are usually in older buildings and have  shared rooms. Finally Minshuku are bed and breakfast establishments but in the Japanese style. Family run, they offer a chance to meet Japanese people and experience the Japanese lifestyle, for example sleeping on a futon and taking a Japanese-style bath. They include one or two meals in the price.

What to see.
The most well-known sight in Japan is Mount Fuji, an icon of the country and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. When weather conditions are right it can even be seen from Tokyo, otherwise a one hour train journey from the capital takes you to Kamakura which is the ideal place from which to see and photograph Japan’s highest mountain. Equally not to be missed are traditional Japanese gardens, which are found in all regions. They present miniature landscapes consisting of set elements: water, bridges, rocks and garden architecture. They may be tea gardens or just places of meditation.
Whenever you go and wherever you stay, Japan is a beautiful and endlessly fascinating country which offers a travel experience that is truly different from the rest.

japan03.jpg (134453 Byte) Japan, North-West of Kobe-Osaka, ricefields japan04.jpg (204612 Byte) Osaka, Japan, View from the Hilton Hotel on the Umeda quarter japan05.jpg (117088 Byte) Osaka, Japan, "Higashi dori syotengai", covert commercial street by night
japan46.jpg (201857 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, Heian shrine, main building japan37.jpg (172729 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, Ginkakuji-temple, Zen garden,stone garden japan53.jpg (164902 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, merchant-street leading to the Kiyomizu-temple japan35.jpg (211016 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, Lover's bank at Kamo Gawa, Kamo River
japan47.jpg (126085 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, tradtional-modern marriage on a yard of the Heian shrine japan20.jpg (94546 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, Toro, ironlantern above the entrance of the  Kasuga-Wakamiya shrine japan48.jpg (191669 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, Maiko-san (Geisha in Kyoto) in front of the Heian shrine japan36.jpg (180964 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, Kabuki-theater, traditional japanese theater with only men actors playing
japan56.jpg (118566 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, Yasaka (=maiden) shrine, small dancing stage dedicaded to goods japan51.jpg (257679 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, Nanzenji temple, stone garden and houses japan45.jpg (237742 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, Sakadaru, Sake (japanese rice wine) barrels at the side of the main entrance japan43.jpg (187190 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, Heian shrine, one of the main entrances
japan14.jpg (237983 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, Tamukeyama-Hachiman shrine, entrance downstairs japan13.jpg (184727 Byte) japan picture japan54.jpg (104875 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, Kiyomizu temple, Rankan, top of the banister japan44.jpg (81604 Byte) Kyoto, Japan, one of the main entrances
japan18.jpg (218732 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, Private monk rooms in the Kasuga-Wakamiya shrine japan22.jpg (222432 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, stonelanterns beside the way to the Kasuga shrine japan17.jpg (193140 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, Kasuga shrine japan23.jpg (287221 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, small torii
japan10.jpg (144242 Byte) Nara Park, Pagoda shaped modern pavillon japan21.jpg (189463 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, main entrance of the Kasuga shrine japan08.jpg (148471 Byte) Nara, Japan,turtles on a dead tree in the Sarasawa pond at the entrance of the Nara Park japan11.jpg (186418 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, Shishidoshi, noisemaking fountain made of bamboo and stone, to chase wild boar
japan25.jpg (148603 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, japanes girlschool on the way of their cultural history, (school uniform, smile and diszipline) japan30.jpg (136987 Byte) Nara Park, the Daibutsuden, (hall of the great Buddha) of the Todaiji-temple japan06.jpg (159461 Byte) japan26.jpg (87579 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, Koi, japanes carp
japan32.jpg (173117 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, main entrance of the Daibutsuden japan34.jpg (151719 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, Horyuji-tempel with Gojunoto, five story pagoda japan12.jpg (198906 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, Jizou, clothed stone statue in honor of a dead  child japan28.jpg (188828 Byte) Nara Park, Japan, privat house between the temples in the north of the park, very quite place!


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