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03-Feb-2018

Japan

Japan, an earthquake-prone land consists of 6,852 islands, including four of the large main islands - Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku & Kyushu with densely populated urban areas and many forests as well with its topographical features include coastlines with varied scenery, towering mountains, which are very often volcanic and twisted valleys that invite visitors into the mysterious world of nature.

On the surface, Japan appears exceedingly modern, but travelling around it offers numerous opportunities to connect with the country's traditional culture. From the splendour of a Kyoto Geisha Dance to the spare beauty of a Zen Rock Garden, Japan has the power to enthrall even the most jaded traveler.

The neon-lit streetscapes of Japan's cities look like sci-fi film sets, even though many of them are decades old. Cities such as Tokyo and Osaka have been adding new architectural wonders that redefine what buildings and cities should look like. There's an indelible buzz to these urban centres, with their vibrant street life, 24-hour drinking and dining scenes and creative hubs that turn out fashion and pop culture trends consumed the world over. Travel is always smooth and efficient, whether you're using the subway to get around or the Shinkansen (Bullet Trains) to go from one city to the next.

Japan is truly timeless, a place where ancient traditions are fused with modern life as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, feels limitless in size and scope and often seems more like a collection of cities than one cohesive whole, dazzles with its traditional culture and passion for everything new.

Come, experience the utopian mega-malls, the edgy designer boutiques from Japan's award-winning architects and the world's tallest tower - Tokyo Sky Tree - a twisting spire that draws on ancient building techniques. Stand atop one of Tokyo's skyscrapers and look out over the city at night to see it blinking like the control panel of a starship, stretching all the way to the horizon.

Weather: The weather varies so much. It is perhaps at its best and the cherry blossoms are in bloom in March, April and May. May is often overlooked for the cherry blossom, but the gardens are in full bloom and weather is nice and warm. Summer tends to be hot and humid, but great for festivals. October and November are surprisingly warm (depending on where you are in the country) and dry.

Activities:There are many things you will want to do on your visit to Japan. A must is to admire views of this vast city. The best view in the city is from the Tokyo Sky Tree– the tallest tower in Japan or take a trip to the top of the Metropolitan Government Building; Romantic views of across the city to Mount Fuji as the sun begins to go down and the lights come up is the best way to do it. If you are more interested in the great outdoors consider a soak in the hot spring baths on the edge of the city or perhaps a gentle hike up Mount Takao which brings nature to the edge of the Metropolis. From spending an afternoon in an Owl Cafe, to dressing up as a serious samurai and acting out a sword fight with a team from the Japan Tate-do Association.

CULINARY DELIGHT: Japanese cuisine is deeply varied with its vibrant and cosmopolitan dining scene and a strong culture of eating out. The country’s cuisine has been added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The hearty hotpots of the mountains are, for example, dramatically different from the delicate Sushi which the coast is famous for. It's also intensely seasonal, meaning you can visit again at a different time of year and experience totally new tastes. What really counts is the city's long-standing artisan culture. You can splash out on the best Sushi, a typicalJapaanese cuisine made by one of the city's legendary chefs, from a recipe honed through decades of experience.

HERITAGE: Nikko's World Heritage shrines and temples are among Japan's finest, gilded and lacquered in the decadent style of the 17th century. Their setting is also awe-inspiring: a grove of towering cedars backed by mountains. These mountains, too, beckon with their deep blue lakes, rushing waterfalls and bubbling onsen (Japanese hot spring)

FASHION & POP CULTURE: From giant robots to saucer-eyed schoolgirls to a certain, ubiquitous kitty, Japanese Pop Culture is a phenomenon that has reached far around the world. Tokyo is the country's pop-culture laboratory, where new trends grow legs.

ENTERTAINMENT: Shinjuku is a whole city within the city. Its breadth and scale are simply awesome – over three million people a day pass through the train station alone. To the west is Nishi-Shinjuku, a planned district of soaring skyscrapers, to the east, the city's largest entertainment district.

SPORTS & ADVENTURE: Many people don’t realize that Japan is 70% mountainous. Hiking this unexpected landscape is a favourite new pursuit. So what are you waiting for? Grab your rucksack, strap on your hiking boots and head into the mountains to discover a completely different side of Japan.

CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL FOR FLOWER ENTHUSIASTS: Ask anyone in the street when they’d like to travel to Japan and chances are they’ll say springtime, “for the cherry blossom”. It’s not hard to understand why, the annual arrival of the Sakura (Cherry Blossom) is a sight to behold. Today, the Cherry Blossom Festival spans four weekends and welcomes more than 1.5 million people to enjoy diverse programming and the trees. Over the years, millions have participated in the annual event that heralds spring in the nation’s capital.

ALL-FEMALE TAKARAZUKA: Japanese Musical Theatre with a twist many people are familiar with Japan’s traditional male-only Kabuki Theatre – an ancient art form that continues to this day. Fewer people know that there is a modern counter-part performed entirely by women.

A PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR IN HIROSHIMA: With staggering landscapes and ancient cultural practices alongside polished metropolitan centres, photography enthusiasts certainly aren’t short of inspiration in Japan.You’d be hard pushed to find someone who’s been to Japan and hasn’t been inspired in some way, but for the artists and photographers Japan has become something of a mecca.

NIGHTLIFE: Make like Lady Gaga in a karaoke box, sip sake with an increasingly rosy salaryman in a tiny postwar bar or dance under the rays of the rising sun at an enormous bayside club: that’s nightlife, Tokyo-style. The city's drinking culture embraces everything from refined tea houses and indie-coffee shops to craft-beer pubs and maid cafes.

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