After two and a half years, Japan is at last open for visitors. Japan is a country that’s easy to fall in love with. Harmony, or "wa," is a foundation of Japanese culture, and visitors will discover that this is a place where massive metropolises can co-exist with natural paradises, where skyscrapers tower not very far from historical temples and shrines. It is this blend of the modern and ancient that captures travelers like no other destination.
Each of Japan’s 47 prefectures has its own charm, and every season has wonders to share – from the cherry blossoms of spring in Yoshino, east of Osaka, to the surprisingly vibrant fall colors of the mainland, to the famous powder slopes craved by skiers on the island of Hokkaido. The lights, sounds and smells of Tokyo at night will enthrall you. Treat the kids (or kids at heart) to a Mario Kart go-kart tour through the streets of the city itself.
At some point during your visit, a stay in a ryokan – a traditional Japanese inn – is essential for a taste of traditional life and hospitality. You’ll find tatami rooms, futon beds, Japanese-style baths, and local cuisine. Another popular cultural experience is soaking in a sento (bathhouse) or an onsen (outdoors in volcanic spring water). Either way, the water will be very hot and the communal experience a genuine Japanese ritual. In winter, head to Snow Monkey Park near Nagano to watch the adorable macaques enjoy the same rite with comical solemnity.
Seeking out the floating torii gate of Miyajima or walking through the gates of the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto – in fact, exploring any of Japan’s many shrines and temples – is an excellent way to learn more about the country’s spiritual side. Birdwatchers will delight in the rare and stunning species to be found in one of Japan’s 160 designated bird preserves.
And those who love to fish will enjoy the challenge of angling the old-fashioned way – with traditional Japanese bamboo poles. Ask us to seek out this experience or a visit to any of the country’s many artisans working hard to keep the old crafts alive – everything from wood-block prints to pottery and papermaking. You are guaranteed to find something exquisite. Make sure to save space in your suitcase.
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