Japan is one of the most popular traveller destinations on the planet, and it’s easy to see why. Visitors simply can’t resist the allure of this fascinating country, which offers an eye-popping journey of discovery around every corner.

This small island country in the northwest Pacific Ocean is an eclectic, delightfully contrasting mix of old and new. Japan blends ancient culture with exquisite natural beauty, the dazzling lights of its buzzing modern cities a stark contrast to its tranquil rural landscapes. Whether you’re keen to see pristine cherry trees in bloom or the latest tech innovations, historic temples or modern art – Japan has it all.

You could visit Japan a hundred times and discover something new, unusual and wonderful on every trip.

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  • History and Culture

    Very early life on the Japanese archipelago is shrouded in mystery, but the country has flourished in the 40,000+ years that humans have lived there. Emerging from the Heian era in 794 was a cultural renaissance of Chinese-influenced art, literature and poetry, along with new sects of Buddhism.

    For a glimpse into the Edo period, make a beeline for Tsumago and the famous Nakasendo highway. This area is home to some of the best preserved and most walkable historic villages in Japan.

    Along with a rich cultural history, Japan is also known for its fierce samurai warriors, and later conflict when the Second World War brought with it catastrophic nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Japan’s history is all there, waiting for you to explore. In fact, the best places to learn about the country’s past are its most modern cities, including Tokyo. Here you’ll find fascinating museums, the sprawling Imperial Palace and the forested Meiji Shrine. The old imperial capital Kyoto offers a wealth of UNESCO heritage sites, while the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park offers a moving tribute to the victims of the wartime atrocity.

  • Nature and wildlife

    Step outside a metropolis like Tokyo, Yokohama or Osaka, and you’ll discover a rich, diverse and exquisitely beautiful natural world. The climate changes dramatically wherever you go, from the Siberian snow of Sapporo on Hokkaido to the subtropical islands of Okinawa.

    Across the country’s coastal wetlands, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, unspoilt islands and lush forests, you may be lucky enough to spot some of the rarest species on earth.

    Go hiking on Hokkaido to see the mating rituals of the iconic red-crested crane, or take a tour to spot the Japanese macaques taking a hot spring bath on Honshu. From bears to giant salamanders, rare owls to winter forest-dwelling deer, Japan is bursting with life.

  • Food and drink

    If you’re a big fan of Japanese cuisine, you’ll be in heaven among the food markets, izakaya (Japanese pub-eatery) and yakitori stalls of Tokyo. You can get absolutely everything here, from sushi for breakfast right through to late-night ramen noodles.

    Kyoto is the home of more traditional dishes, along with street food specialities like Yatsuhashi – a delicious sweet confectionery snack. Hit up Shimoda on the Izu peninsula for seafood, Morioka for tiny bowls of soba, Osaka for takoyaki octopus balls and somewhat surprisingly, Sapporo for world-class cheese and beer. And don’t forget about a spirit Japan is particularly proud of – its whiskey!

  • Adventure and experiences

    Japan is such a diverse destination, what you do and see is completely up to you! First-timers will want to go to Tokyo to see the Imperial Palace, Sensō-ji Temple and famous Ginza shopping district.

    But for a taste of Japan’s rich history, the lovely old streets and UNESCO heritage sites of Kyoto are a must-visit. Hop a Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo (a fantastic experience in itself) and explore the city’s museums, galleries and Buddhist temples including the shining Golden Pavilion.

    Japan is best when you can escape the crowds, but cherry blossom season in spring is an unforgettable sight. But for a (slightly) quieter experience, head to Hokkaido in February for the Sapporo Snow Festival.

    If you’ve any space left in your itinerary, visit the ‘art island’ of Naoshima with its world-class art museum, head out on a hiking adventure in the charming Kiso Valley or cycle through the Japanese countryside. Feeling adventurous? Take on the majestic Mount Fuji, or play it safe and admire it from the pretty lakeside resort of Kawaguchiko.

    From the peace of a Japanese garden to the enjoyable chaos of a karaoke night out in Tokyo, this unique country really does offer a feast for the senses.

Flag of Japan
  • Capital city: Tokyo
  • Language: Japanese
  • Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • Time Difference: UTC + 9
  • Flight Time: 11h to Tokyo via London Heathrow
  • Visa: Stamp on arrival (UK passport holders)
  • Peak Season: March to May

Did you know?

Greater Tokyo is home to 38.14 million people, the largest urban area in the world

Japan Climate Guide

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