Land of the rising sun
For European travellers, Japan is one of the most exciting and culturally alien travel destinations of anywhere in the world. The Japanese high-rise cities such as the Yokahama, Osaka and the capital, Tokyo, are bustling, crowded environments teeming with fast-paced modern life and full of remarkable sights and sounds that leave visitors awestruck. The archipelago of islands that make up Japan consist of dramatic mountainous interiors surrounded by flat coastal plains where almost all the towns, villages and cities have sprung up. Archaeological evidence suggests that the islands of Japan have been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, and there is an absolute treasure trove of fascinating history and culture for visitors to experience first-hand, from the ancient temples and stunning ornamental gardens to the neon-lit cities and exhilarating nightlife.
Almost every aspect of Japanese culture offers a new and rewarding experience, from the food and the language, to the art and the nightlife. The Japanese people are friendly and welcoming, so it is truly a pleasure to discover everything from their fascination with technology to traditional Japanese cultural heritage.
When to Go?
One of the best times to visit Japan is when the cherry blossoms come into full bloom, anytime between March and May depending on where you go. A popular Japanese holiday called Golden Week occurs in late April or early May, when travelling in Japan can become extremely busy and hotels more expensive. June and July are often very wet, so are usually best avoided. August and September are typically warm and dry months.
How to get there?
With Tokyo’s importance as a destination for business travellers, flights to Tokyo Narita (NRT) are offered by four competing airlines, British Airways, Virgin, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. Flights to other Japanese destinations such as Osaka Kansai International (KIX) and Okinawa Naha Airport (OKA) are generally not available direct from the UK, but there are plenty of connections from Tokyo’s other main hub, Haneda Airport (HND), or via the Japanese high speed train service.
Enjoy some of Tokyo’s bustling shopping malls, where you can stop off for lunch in a sushi bar. The gardens of the Imperial Palace are a lovely place to escape the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo, and are quite beautiful when the trees are blossoming. The Edo-Tokyo museum is a great place to find out more about Japanese history and culture. Be sure to get some snaps of Mount Fuji, a symbolic icon of Japan. Visit the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima and the re-constructed Hiroshima Castle, which features exhibits about Japan’s ancient feudal system.