Japan, the land of the rising sun. The land of the Samurai, Nippon and long history! It is not the first country that comes to mind when you think about a holiday to Asia, but it is an emerging country. Japan is a country of contrasts. For example, world cities such as Tokyo and Nagano are worlds apart from the beautiful interior of Kamikochi. Besides, the Japanese are very friendly, which makes your stay in Japan a unique experience! On this page, you can read all about the highlights of Japan.
Japan has a lot to offer because Kyoto already has 17 places on the UNESCO World Heritage List! Everyone knows something about the country. We’ve all eaten sushi or seen a sumo wrestler on TV.
This archipelago of 6,800 Volcanic islands has more to offer than anyone thinks.
From the moment you arrive in Japan, it is almost like entering another planet. It is a fascinating country, where ancient gods, customs and crafts are mixed with modern technology, futuristic fashion and gigantic neon screens.
One thing is sure; you will not get bored in Japan for a day.
What is there to see?
More than enough. We have been to Japan twice and still have not seen everything. Each region has its unique highlights. The high-speed trains take you from one part of the country to another part of the country at terrifying speed.
Along the way, you marvel at the impressive landscape of Japan. The highlights of Japan are incredibly diverse. One day, you can admire Nikko’s temples in the morning and have a cocktail at the beach of Amami-Oshima in the evening. Get the best souvenirs around, including the famous nanoblock brick toys that feature popular anime characters such as Pokemon.
Be surprised by the beautiful nature, the mystical temples, Mount Fuji or marvel at the technical highlights in one of the cities! Japan has it all! Technology and ancient traditions come together in this beautiful country!
Tokyo: Capital City of Japan
Visiting Tokyo is like drinking three Red Bulls. Tokyo is buzzing with energy! Life goes on here 24/7, and everything you think is new is outdated in Tokyo. But it also has a traditional and cultural value that is not immediately apparent.
You can visit the Tokyo Tower in Tokyo, which stands at 333 meters high in Tokyo’s centre. The tower is the world’s tallest, self-supported steel tower, higher than the Eiffel Tower by 13 meters. Tokyo Tower is Japan’s post-war symbol of the rebirth of significant major economic power. Until 2012, the tower was Japan’s tallest structure. Then it was surpassed by the Tokyo Skytree. Besides being a preferred traveller spot, Tokyo Tower conjointly is a broadcast antenna.
If you want to see the more spiritual part of Tokyo, Sensoji Temple is the place to go. The legend states that two fishermen caught a golden statue of Kannon, known as the merciful nirvana achiever, in the Sumida River. The fishermen tried to return the sculpture to the river multiple times, but it always came back to them. Being recognised as Kanon, the statue was enshrined. Sensoji Temple was founded in 628. However, the current crimson building is much more modern because it was rebuilt after its destruction in WW2.
When you visit Tokyo, you simply cannot ignore its sushi recipes. For example, you can find sushi at the Tsukiji fish market. There you can find tons of fresh seafood from other parts of Japan and around the world. The Tsukiji fish market is the biggest globally, and there are about 30 Michelin-starred sushi restaurants in Tokyo alone.
Speaking of food, Yakitori is one of the traditional Japanese dishes. Yakitori is cooked over charcoal grills which makes the meat crispy outside and tender inside. Seasoning is either with salt or savoury tare sauce made from soy sauce, dashi broth and vinegar. Various chicken meat pieces are used for yakitori, such as chicken thighs, chicken breast and spring onions, chicken meatballs, etc. Japanese people each Yakitori with beer or sake for dinner. In Tokyo, there are plenty of izakaya places that supply good yakitori.
If you are looking for the tradition and culture of Japan, Kyoto is the place to be. Kyoto incorporates a rich history and is one of every of the world’s most culturally wealthy cities. It is not without reason that it counts 17 Sights on the UNESCO World Heritage List, 1,600 Buddhist temples and more than 400 Shinto shrines.
For example, Kinkakuji is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto. The temple’s high two floors are entirely coated in gold foil. Kinkakuji was formerly known as Rokuonji, which was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. According to his will, the estate became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408. The Kinkakuji is surrounded by a large lake, the Kyokochi pond, and here you can see its beauty on sunny days when the sun reflects in the golden walls of the temple.
Another interesting temple to visit is the Inari-Tachi which is the head shrine of the kami Inari. The shrine sits at the bottom of a mountain, additionally known as Inari. The mountain is 233 meters above sea level and includes trails up to the mountain to several smaller shrines that span for four kilometres, and it will take up to two hours to walk it up. The highlight of Inari-Tashi is the rows of torii gates referred to as Senbon Torii. The custom there is to donate a torii to have a wish come true, and this custom is known since the Edo period.
Are you tired of the hustle and bustle in ultra-modern cities? Then Okinawa is the place to relax. Japan is not so much known for its tropical islands. For a beach holiday, people will often choose Indonesia, Thailand or Malaysia. Still, you don’t have to leave Japan if you want to enjoy a wonderful week at the beach and snorkel in the turquoise water.
Okinawa is one of the five major islands in Japan and is home to more than 1 million people. It is located in the East China Sea, and it is the main island of the famous Ryukyu Islands. Like the islands in Indonesia, the waters here are great for diving and snorkelling.
The Yaeyama Islands are among the foremost stunning islands in Japan. It is an archipelago of several islands, of which Iriomote Island is the largest. It is located about 450 kilometres southwest of Okinawa’s main island and is part of the Yaeyama Archipelago. Together with the Miyako Islands and the Okinawa Islands make up the leading island chains of Okinawa Prefecture. Between the Yaeyama Islands, Ishigaki Island is the most populated and serves as the region’s transportation hub. Other islands are jungle-covered and are famous for the traditional Ryukyu villages. Other islands are Hateruma, Hatoma, and several other small islands which offer beaches, snorkelling and diving.
Sometimes it seems like you are in the Philippines, but the seas around Okinawa are labelled as one of the most beautiful in the world. And given the attractive coral reefs and varied fish you just encounter here, this can not undo.