Travel to Japan
If you’re looking for a holiday destination that effortlessly blends the beauty of its natural environment, with their bustling metropolitan cities rich in heritage, why not consider Japan? Japan features a unique culture ripe with age-old traditions unlike any other.
Located a short eight-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean, Japan has many diverse cities with their own unique flare, creating a suite of memorable experiences no matter which ones you choose to visit.
Here, we look at five of our top destination picks that’ll ensure that your Japanese experience is one that will leave you with stories and photos to share for years.
Being the country’s capital city, and located on Japan’s main island, Honshu, Tokyo is a perfect place to begin your trip! Tokyo is an interesting combination of neon-lit skyscrapers and historic temples and the city is popular with residents and travellers alike. Featuring all the qualities of a metropolitan dream and a history buff’s fascinations, the city celebrates its diverse culture and appreciation for local history.
There’s a range of museums where you can get a taste of the city’s most intriguing qualities. From the Asakura Museum of Sculpture, filled with the art of Fumio Asakura a renowned sculptor, to the Museum of Yebisu Beer. There’s something in Tokyo to make everyone happy!
If you’re a history buff, the world-famous Imperial Palace is within walking distance from Tokyo station. It offers guided tours to the living spaces of the home of Japan’s Imperial Family – The Emperor. The Meiji Shrine is another option located on beautiful grounds with paths perfect for relaxing walks to take in the stunning scenery.
Speaking of natural wonders, it’s not a holiday in Japan without being a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival! Despite blooming in many other locations such as Kyoto, Osaka and Nara, the display in Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo is often said to be the most impressive. With over 1,000 trees juxtaposed by the iconic city, the picturesque landscape is incredible and truly a memorable experience.
If shopping is more your thing, you only need look as far as Shibuya and Harajuku. Even if shopping isn’t your thing, they’re still worth a visit for the experience and to just people watch. Both precincts are super busy, but just fascinating and alive with colour and movement.
The traditional city of Kyoto is just a three(ish) hour fast train (called the Shinkansen) trip from Tokyo. Just a hint: make sure you’re sitting on the right hand side of the train for a clear view of Mt Fuji around an hour into your trip.
Once home to the emperor’s residence, Kyoto is well known for possessing numerous Buddhist temples and palaces. However the most popular spots include Arashiyama – an exotic site blending wild monkeys and a bamboo forest making for a picturesque scene and cheeky experience.
Kinkaku-Ji is another iconic site but for a very different reason. This historic temple never goes unnoticed, coated in a golden leaf surrounded by a reflective pond and well-groomed gardens. The stunning landscape justifies its popularity capturing both the historic and natural beauty of the country.
Otherwise, the Fushimi Inari-taisha is a destination unique in its own respect. Dating back to 711 A.D hundreds of traditional gates (torii) in bright red-orange leading from the shrine of Inari (god of rice and patron of business) to the top of the mountain makes this site a cultural marvel and frankly just plain beautiful. The trip along the mountain trails to the many smaller shrines takes around 2 hours and stretches for nearly 4 kilometres. As you trek, you’re likely to encounter many fox statues and fountains – regarded as messengers of Inari.
Just 12 minutes (55kms) by Shinkansen from Kyoto is Osaka. Known for its status as Japan’s modern port city, Osaka and its surrounding region shines a different light on Japanese culture. It’s filled with an entertaining mix of restaurants, historic buildings (often dating back many centuries) and theme parks. For your history buffs, why not consider a visit to the Osaka Castle? Built in 1597, the castle is one of the country’s most popular landmarks and tells a story pivotal to the history of Japan.
Or if you’re after something from this day and age, the energetic entertainment district of Dōtonbori is the place to be! Explore hundreds of restaurants and attractions to experience the diversity of Japan and gain an authentic perspective of Japanese culture.
Whilst you’re there, make sure you experience some traditions and indulge in a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony. You’ll wear a traditional kimono and take your time to brew and sip your tea. And whilst you’re getting use to wearing the Kimono, why not take a trip back in time and visit the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living. On its 9th floor, you’ll find a life-sized replica of the town of Osaka in the 1800s and see how Japanese life used to be.
Hiroshima is a city that, despite its devastating past, has flourished to become the home of many world recognised heritage sites. The
Hiroshima Peace Memorial is one of them. The site pays tribute to those who lost their lives from the atomic bomb. The Japanese approach to life though makes this an interesting, informative experience, rather than a morbid one, and one that’s likely to broaden your understanding of the world.
And for those who are a fan of stunning gardens and uniquely distinctive greenery, the Hiroshima Botanical Gardens are filled with indigenous plants any nature lover would appreciate. The tropical greenhouse and orchid exhibit combined with the more than 200,000 plants of the gardens is likely to keep you in raptures for hours. Ornithology fans will also delight in the more than 50 species of birds also inhabiting the gardens.
- Yamanashi Prefecture
Now it wouldn’t be a trip to Japan without stopping over to the Yamanashi Prefecture. While you may be unfamiliar with the name, what should ring a bell is the region’s famous spots including the northern part of Mount Fuji, Fuji Five Lakes and the Hottarakashi Onsen Hot Spring.
Mount Fuji is an iconic location and a must see for all those travelling to Japan. For those who are adventurous, hiking the volcano is an activity hundreds do each year. It is a significant challenge, but those who commit, are rewarded with stunning views and an unforgettable experience.
But if you would just prefer to relax, the Fuji Five Lakes are natural wonders with more comfortable views of Mount Fuji. Each are unique in nature featuring different towns, amenities and activities including cruises and art museums. And if you want to take your relaxation to the next level, the Hottarakashi Onsen Hot Spring is without question the place to be. The outdoor baths are one of many spots where the temperature is just right and you will see an unforgettable sunrise or sunset, with Mount Fuji in the background.
Best times to travel?
The best times to travel are during the seasons of Spring (March to May) or Autumn ( September to November). Regardless of your choice, Japan is very accommodating and an ideal location all year round.
But naturally, the stunning landscapes and iconic heritage sites are more comfortable to visit during the seasons with clear skies and little rain. If the Cherry Blossom Festival in particular is something you want to see in all its glory, Autumn is the time for you!
If you’d like to know more about Japan or you’re ready to plan your next holiday, you can always give us a call on (02) 6041 5577 or book an appointment via the form below. You can find more on our other top travel destinations here!
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