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Highlights of Japan

Important information you need to know before you visit this country.

  • Tokyo is Japan’s capital and the world’s most populous metropolis.

    It is located at the head of Tokyo bay on the Pacific coast of central Honshu.

    Today, Tokyo offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining to its visitors. The city’s history can be appreciated in districts such as Asakusa and in many excellent museums, historic temples and gardens.

    • Shibuya, Night time, Japan

    • Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

    • Streets, Japan

  • Sapporo, capital of the mountainous northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, Japan’s fifth largest city.

    Sapporo became world famous in 1972 when the Olympic Winter Games were held there. Today, the city is well known for its ramen, beer, and the annual snow festival held in February, featuring enormous ice sculptures.

    • Winter in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

    • Sapporo Beer Museum, Sapporo, Japan

    • The Former Hokkaido Government Building in Sapporo

    • Autumn in Sapporo, Japan

  • Kyoto was Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1868.

    Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its exceptional historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and escaped destruction during World War II.

    Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today, such as Kiyomizudera Temple and Kinkakuji draw lots of attention from visitors.

    It’s famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It’s also known for formal traditions such as kaiseki dining, consisting of multiple courses of precise dishes, and geisha, female entertainers often found in the Gion district.

    • Fusihimi Inari, Kyoto, Japan

    • sunset in Kyoto, Japan

    • Geisha in Kyoto, Japan

    • Bamboo forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

  • Kanazawa is sometimes called “little Kyoto”, often compared to Kyoto (though significantly smaller than the ancient capital).

    Now Kanazawa is renowned for its impeccable geisha and samurai districts, the iconic Kenrokuen stroll garden, and its wonderful cuisine – including some of Japan’s highest-quality seafood.

    Kanazawa is on Japan’s central Honshu Island. It’s known for well-preserved Edo-era districts, art museums and regional handicrafts. Kenrokuen Garden, begun in the 17th century, is celebrated for its classic landscape designs incorporating ponds and streams. Adjacent Kanazawa Castle was built in the 1580s, Japan’s only Buddhist fiefdom.

    • Castle in Kanazawa, Japan

    • Kimono custom in Japan

    • three Geisha women near trees in Japan

  • Osaka is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo. It has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai Region for many centuries.

    In the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi chose Osaka as the location for his castle, and the city may have become Japan’s political capital if Tokugawa Ieyasu had not terminated the Toyotomi lineage after Hideyoshi’s death and moved his government to Tokyo.

    It’s known for its modern architecture, nightlife and hearty street food. Osaka also has a historical side, the highlight of which is Osaka Castle. The castle is a great place to discover more about Japanese history . It’s surrounded by a moat and park with plum, peach and cherry-blossom trees especially in April when the sakura blooms and the weather is often at its best. Sumiyoshi-taisha is among Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines.

    • Osaka city, Japan

    • Osaka Castle, Japan

    • Dotonbori at Night. Osaka, Japan

  • Kobe has been an important port city for many centuries. Its port was among the first to be opened to foreign trade in the 19th century.

    Located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, Kobe is also considered one of Japan’s most attractive cities.

    In 1995, Kobe was hit by the Earthquake, which killed over 5000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. Today the city is completely rebuilt, and few signs of the terrible event remain.

    It is known for its signature marbled beef, the outdoor hot springs of Arima Onsen. and scenic setting of mountains framing the harbor. The Ikuta Shrine, dating to the 3rd century, is among Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines. Antique cable cars connect Kobe to Mt. Rokko gives you panoramic views over the port. Kobe’s Nada district is famous for sake.

    • Kobe Harborland, Japan

    • Kobe overview, Japan

  • Takayama is a city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture.

    The narrow streets of its Sanmachi Suji historic district are lined with wooden merchants’ houses dating to the Edo Period, along with many small museums. The city is famed for its biannual Takayama Festival ( Sanno Festival and Hachiman Festival), going back to at least the mid-1600s, celebrating spring and fall with parades featuring ornate, gilded floats and puppet shows.

    If you wish to add a rural element into your itinerary, Takayama is one of the best choice.

    • Festival in Takayama, Gifu, Japan

    • Takayama, Préfecture de Gifu, Japan

    • Lady in Kimono in Japan

  • Hiroshima was largely destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II.

    Today, it is a modern city on Japan’s Honshu Island. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park commemorates the 1945 event. In the park are the ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the few buildings that was left standing near ground zero.

    Other prominent sites include Shukkei-en, a formal Japanese garden, and Hiroshima Castle.

    • Peace Memorial Park - Hiroshima

    • Shukkeien Japanese Garden in the centre of Hiroshima, Japan

    • The Peace Dome was one of very few buildings left standing

    • Miyajima, Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima, Japan Published on January 30, 2020 NIKON CORPORATION, NIKON D810 Free to use under the Unsplash License Itsukushima Shrine, in Miyajima Island. Hiroshima, Japan

    • Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima, Japan

  • Fukuoka, sits on the northern shore of Japan’s Kyushu Island.

    Because of its closeness to the Asian mainland (closer to Seoul than to Tokyo), Fukuoka has been an important harbor city for many centuries and was chosen by the Mongol invasion forces as their landing point in the 13th century.

    It’s known for ancient temples, beaches and modern shopping malls, including Canal City. Maizuru Park contains ruins of 17th-century Fukuoka Castle. The central Hakata district contains Tōchō-ji Temple, home to a 10m wooden Buddha and the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum, with displays on daily life in the Meiji and Taishō eras.

    • Overview Fukuoka, Japan

FAQ

Where is Japan?

Japan is an island country, lying off the east coast of Asia. Nearly the entire land area is taken up by the country’s four main islands; from north to south these are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu.
Japan’s closest neighbors are Korea, Russia and China.
The country experiences frequent earthquakes. For the same reason, there are many volcanoes and natural hot springs in Japan. Japan’s most famous volcano and highest mountain is Mount Fuji.

When is the best time to travel to Japan?

The best time to visit Japan is during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). This is when Japan is at its most vibrant, with delicate cherry blossom or bright red leaves adding contrast to the scenery. But it can also be very crowded at this time.
However, other times of year have the benefit of being less crowded and also offer seasonal activities like summer matsuri festivals and hot springs, skiing, and snowboarding in the winter.
July and August are typically the hottest and most humid times of year, and can be uncomfortable for sightseeing if you are averse to humidity.
Typhoons generally occur between May and October, Okinawa and southwestern Japan are particularly vulnerable to typhoons.

Do Japanese speak English?

As a matter of fact, Japanese aren’t likely to speak English, and tourists should not expect many locals to be able to speak English.

Do I need a visa to travel to Japan?

If you are a citizen of the USA, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or one of the 65 other nations, you do not have to obtain a visa before visiting Japan. You will be automatically granted a temporary visitor visa on arrival, which is valid for up to 90 days as long as you don’t plan to work while you’re in Japan.

Countries that require a visa to enter Japan: China, Russia, Philippines, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Pacific Islands, Colombia, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

You can go to Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see if you qualify for visa exemption. Download the relevant visa application form for your country from the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

How long should I spend in Japan?

10 days should be the minimum and 14-21 days could be a good trip length. With 10 days you wouldn’t be able to see all around Japan, but it is possible to pick best highlights of the country, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara.

Can I drink the water in Japan?

Japan’s tap water is drinkable and safe. The national water infrastructure is reliable, and purification facilities are well-maintained.

Are ATM’s available in Japan?

Japanese postal ATMs accept most foreign cards and can be found almost everywhere.

– 7-11 ATMs are the easiest to use and accept the most foreign cards. They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

– Japanese postal ATMs accept most foreign cards and can be found almost everywhere. However, most postal ATMs are only open during post office opening hours.

– ATMs in other conveniences store accept some foreign cards, but not all.

– ATMs in most Japanese banks will NOT accept your home bank card.

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