Japan is a fascinating country known for its traditional arts and crafts including tea ceremonies held at charming tea houses. Beautiful traditional Japanese Gardens can be found all over Japan including Kenroku-en in Kanazawa boasting well-manicured lawns, zen gardens, rock gardens, and koi ponds. The country is the host of a variety of vibrant festivals including Kyoto`s famous, traditional summer festival Gion Matsuri. The country is known for producing and consuming the highest quality of Sushi in the world, drinking sake, and spending evenings in traditional izakayas.
Visiting magnificent temples and shrines can be a pass time in Japan with hundreds of them dotted around the country, some of the most mesmerizing include Kyoto`s iconic Kinkaku-Ji and Tokyo`s Senso-Ji, a famed Buddhist temple. Castles are another recurring site in the country dating back over centuries, many still in their original form, Himeji-jo is one of the greatest castles in the country.
Getting around the country can be done speedily and easily onboard the stunning, state of the art Shinkansen bullet trains that travel across the country at lightning speeds. Some of the fascinating train journeys that can be taken in Japan include the Kurobe Gorge Railway along suspension bridges over the deep gorge and the Sunrise Seto/Izumo sleeper trains which are the last in the country transporting passengers from Tokyo to Takamatsu and Izumo.
Tokyo known as `The Land of the Rising Sun` the energetic capital city with a fascinating fusion of old-world and ultramodern. The skyline boasts soaring skyscrapers, the shopping streets are filled with electronics and anime, charming castles and ancient temples can be seen decorated in blooming cherry blossoms. The Tokyo Skytree is the world`s tallest tower and Ginza is the largest fashion district in the world. The majestic Japanese Alps are the towering magnificent mountains ranges and home to several locations boasting natural beauty including Hida and the Kiso Valley where an abundance of outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding, hiking and biking, traditional onsen hot springs and ryokans can be enjoyed amidst magnificent scenic surroundings. Hiroshima is a beautiful, modern, cosmopolitan city donning a devastating past after the world`s first atomic bomb wiped out the entire city. Boasting a coastal location the city features breathtaking scenery including mountains, rivers, valleys, and the Seto Inland Sea. Excellent cuisine, a world-class museum, and the floating vermilion torii gate on a sacred island is a major landmark. Osaka known as the `food capital of the world` is one of the best places to eat in the entire country. The third-largest city in Japan celebrated for its modern architecture and the iconic 16th century Osaka Castle surrounded by some of the largest cherry and plum blossoms blooms in the country.
Japan experiences four distinct seasons including spring, summer, autumn, and winter. March through May and September through November are some of the best times to visit the country with little rainfall and mild temperatures. Some of the most amazing sights in Japan are the cherry blossom blooms and the autumn leaves which are both exciting times to see the country decorated with these vibrant trees.
The Japanese place a large emphasis on the different seasons with different dishes being more popular at certain times of the year and plates that change with the season. Eel is a popular dish that is served mostly in the summer months and fugu (blowfish) is a specialty in the winter months. Many festivals begin at the beginning of the spring when the `Sakura` cherry blossom season is in full bloom.
Japan covers a large area that stretches from the cold north island of Hokkaido all the way to the subtropical islands of Okinawa, meaning Hokkaido experience longer winters than the rest of the country and Okinawa features longer summers with warm subtropical temperatures year-round. The rest of the country experiences variations in climate throughout the four seasons. For more detailed information, consult our Best Time to Visit guide Japan
We recommend 7-10 days based on what you want to see and do. We offer flexible vacation packages so you can select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel, and activities. We suggest a minimum of 3 nights in larger cities.
By Train: Trains, trains, and more trains! Japan is one of the most extensive transport systems in the world when it comes to train travel. Japan`s excellent train services and infamous Shinkansen bullet trains connect travelers all over the country, the bullet trains travel at 200 miles per hour making it a fast and convenient way to travel. Efficient train travel in Japan boasts some of the country`s most scenic views of the countryside, mountains, gorges, stunning cityscapes, and more. The most popular train company in Japan is run by the JR Group (Japan Railways) with six companies such as JR Kyushu, and JR East. JR Rail passes can be purchased offering great discounts for visitors.
By Bus: There are long-distance buses in Japan to connect passengers to the remote areas where trains do not travel, like Shirakawa-go in the Japanese Alps, Hokkaido, Tohoku, and Kyushu. Long-distance buses are known as `chokyori` and cheap, they operate between major cities in the country, some of these buses travel at night with reclining seats and toilets. These buses depart from Tokyo Station and travel to Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima.
By Car: Driving in Japan is not recommended for visitors unless traveling in remote regions like Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Okinawa. In the larger cities driving can be difficult due to heavy traffic in most of the major cities, expensive gas, high tolls, and very few signs in English making driving around difficult and costly. Trains can reach locations in half the time it takes to drive.
By Ferry: Ferries are a popular way to travel around Japan and connect to the different offshore islands.
The currency in Japan is the Yen symbolized by ¥. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand and be prepared to exchange your dollars to yen upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and bank locations throughout the city, ATM`s are widespread. ATM`s are located at Post office`s all over the city, look for a symbol that indicates `International ATM Service` or `Authorized Foreign Exchange` (a green clover) and stickers indicating which cards are accepted. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Japan
Japanese is the language spoken in Japan, but English is widely spoken throughout the country with announcements on public transportation frequently made in Japanese and English, most signs include roman characters or an English explanation. Most Japanese people study English in junior high and high school so you are best seeking out younger people who may be able to help and translate for you.
It is best to have your destinations written down in Japanese so you are able to show this to your taxi driver or people on the street. People are always willing to help whether they can speak English or not.
We recommend you get a good English - Japanese guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me, and numbers 1 - 10.