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
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.