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Japan is a unique travel destination that offers the keen traveler a fascinating mix of both the old with its ancient shrines and temples, historic castles, and Zen gardens and the new with its modern architecture, neon lights and high-tech bullet trains. The island nation offers a perfect combination of the hustle and bustle of large cities with the relaxing unspoiled beauty of its lush mountains and fast flowing rivers.
Below is a short but information dense guide with information on where to go, what to eat and more to help you plan your next trip to Japan!
Most people visiting Japan for the first time will focus their attention on the Golden Route which follows the old Tokaido Road from Tokyo to Kyoto. This is a great idea for anyone with limited time as it gives you the chance to visit some of the main destinations such as Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Hakone, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto.
Tokyo and Osaka both give you a taste of modern Japan, Mount Fuji and Hakone offer you some of Japan's best natural landscapes and hot springs, while Nara and Kyoto give you a more traditional experience as the ancient capitals of Japan and the cultural heartland of the county.
For repeat visitors, or those amongst us who like to explore those hidden gems, Japan offers a wealth of fantastic options. Hida Takayama deep in the mountains of central Japan is a little version of Kyoto without all the crowds. Motonosumi Inari Shrine in Yamaguchi Prefecture is one of the most scenic Shinto shrines in Japan with over 100 torii shrine gates leading to a cliff by the ocean. The huge temple complex of Mount Koya in Wakayama Prefecture is home to over 100 temples and is the home of Shingon Buddhism in Japan.
Japan is a food lover's paradise for any budget with a combination of high-end Michelin star restaurants and back-alley eateries that will not dent your wallet. The food is incredibly varied from simple soba buckwheat noodles to elaborate, multi-course kaiseki banquets.
You can pretty much find anything in Tokyo, which is home to more Michelin star restaurants than any other city on earth. Kyoto is the place to sample some of the country's best traditional food such as yudofu (boiled tofu), Shojin ryori (Japanese Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) and wagashi (Japanese sweets).
Japan has the “Wow” factor in abundance and will leave you wanting more. Make sure when you visit, to try staying at least one night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), soak in a natural onsen (hot spring), try Zen meditation at an ancient temple to soothe both your body and mind, and stay overnight at a temple lodging on Mount Koya.
Did you know that there are more than 6,800 islands in Japan? The four main islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku make up about 97% of the total land area.
The Land of the Rising Sun could also be known as the Land of Forests with more than 50% of the country mountainous and covered by forests.
All seasons in Japan offer something special and unique. The summer can be very hot and humid but is a time to enjoy outdoor activities along with the numerous festivals and fireworks on display. Winter is quite cold with some areas experiencing heavy snowfall, but it is a wonderful time to enjoy skiing and snowboarding, or simply soak in a relaxing natural hot spring. Most people like to visit Japan in either the spring (March to May) to see the beautiful cherry blossoms, or autumn (September to November) for the vivid colors of the fall foliage.
If you are looking for more Japan travel and culture tips, check out the Japan Australia Blog. Japan Australia is run by an expat Aussie in Japan and provides you with helpful tips and fascinating insight into the culture from a local on the streets of Japan.
We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.