Introducing Japan

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The land of the rising sun has always held a certain mystique for many. With the ultra-modern, neon-glowing streets intermingled with aging temples and a culture that still leans heavily on ancient Confucian values, it’s a vibrant, blended society that has something to offer every type of traveler. As long as you have ample supplies of cash to burn, that is.

Tokyo’s an impossibly lively city that’s the savvy home of Sushi and endless vending machines, computer-based restaurants, teenagers dressed as sensationally realistic Manga cartoon characters and of course the working people in their black or grey business suits rushing off to a meeting, lunch or home. In amongst all the modernity, though, you’ll find the hidden grandeur of the Imperial Palace, the subtle atmospherics of the red lantern clad temples and even the intimidating luxury of the ancient Sento public baths, where families still wash together. 

Kyoto takes the tradition a step further, as home to the kind of superlative imagery that made Memoirs of a Geisha such an iconic film. You can meditate in stone-perfect raked pebble gardens, stroll around just a few of the 1,700 peaceful Buddhist temples, or stare spellbound at glittering palaces that seem to be floating on top of tranquil lakes.

Hiroshima is famous for all the wrong reasons, and you’ll still find plenty of remnants of the day it was blasted to the ground (including a single burnt frame of a building that still stands at the centre), but has rebuilt into a dynamic, sparkling modern city. Yakushima, with its densely forested mountains and snow-tipped peaks is famous for its coastal hot springs and moist climate, while the yearly wave of cherry blossoms flowing across the country brings with it astounding natural beauty and something to base your trip around.

Remember to slurp vocally in appreciation of your noodles, and leave your shoes at the door, and if you’re around in December, the early morning climb – Sake in hand – to see the New Year in over the Pacific is unforgettable. Don your kimono and wooden platform shoes, grab your Samurai sword and head out into a beguiling, inimitable culture.

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