The Land of the Rising Sun has been a constant draw for Western travelers ever since Marco Polo visited in the thirteenth century. Thanks to Japan’s ability to selectively absorb modern advances throughout its history, the country today is a marvelous blending of ancient traditions and architecture with the latest technology and post-modern living.
Japan’s capital, Tokyo, offers plenty of this blend of old versus new, including the Imperial Palace and the Asakusa district juxtaposed against the trendy Shinjuko district and the National Art Center. But there is more to Japan than just its capital, and those that venture into Japans other regions will be rewarded with amazing discoveries. The Chugoku region to the south offers Korakuen Garden, created three hundred years ago, Hiroshima, which has literally risen from the ashes of World War II, and Hagi, an important area in history where many prominent samurai were born.
Moving north, Kyoto offers a very special visit, as it was the country’s capital for over one thousand years. There are many important palaces and shrines to visit in the area. The Chubu region offers not only palaces and museums, but the Japanese Alps, where the Winter Olympics were located in 1998, and travelers can enjoy stunning views as well as sports. Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, offers plenty of activities for nature lovers and adventurers.
Most visitors arrive in Japan via Tokyo’s international airport. However, some may find it more convenient to arrive in airports located in other major cities, such as Osaka or Nagoya. While many use domestic air to travel around the country, trains are considered the best way to get around. There are a variety of networks available, from local systems to Japan’s famous bullet trains, but traveling by train can be expensive. Click here for discount flights to Japan.
It is important to remember that Japan is one of the more expensive countries in Asia, and this is easily reflected in its hotels and restaurants. There is certainly a wide range of hotels available, from five-star to youth hostel, but even those on the tightest budgets should expect to spend around $50 a day. Those looking for a luxury experience can expect to spend upwards of $200 a day or more. For hotels in Japan, click here.