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Traveling in Japan

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Japan offers a very wide range of attractions, from historical and cultural treasures to modern and futuristic sights and beautiful forests, mountains and sea coasts.

Traveling around in Japan is relatively easy as there are English signs posted in most cities, and along with some of the most basic Japanese phrases you will be just fine. The Japanese are very friendly and willing to help. You can walk around without being glared at or made to feel uncomfortable, so feel free to be you. What you do need to equip yourself with is an open mind and a Japan Rail Pass (to board the shinkansen and JR trains across the country). The rest is left to your imagination and creativity.

Regions of Japan: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa.
Top destinations for visitors: Hokkaido, Tokyo Metropolitan Area, Kansai, Kyoto, Izu & Hakone, Hiroshima (Miyajima).

The very mention of Japan conjures images of temples enveloped with futuristic cities gliding over rice fields, a touch of geisha, and a high dose of the unknown. Japan has everything and anything, and there truly is something for every visitor.  Japan is by no means the most expensive country to travel around, and there is ease of access for all different abilities.

Where to visit?

Culture & tradition: Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima
Technology: Tokyo, Osaka
A swim perhaps: Okinawa
Skiing & Snowboarding: Niseko, APPI Kogen, Naeba, Nagano,
Hiking & Trekking: Mt. Fuji, Kamikochi
Rock Climbing: Ogawayama, Nishi Izu (umikongo)
Cycling: Shimanami Kaido, Tokyo, Fujimi, Niseko
Running: Hakone, Izu Peninsula, Tokyo & Osaka marathon,
Multi-sports: Gunma, Tochigi, Tokushima
Rafting & Cannoning: Tone River, Yoshino River, Gunma
Bungy Jumping: Gunma
Forest Delights: Yamanashi, Chiba, Kanagawa, Tochigi
Surfing: Ichinomiya, Niijima Island,
Kayaking: Izu Peninsula, Kerama Islands
Scuba Diving: Okinawa, Miyake, Mikura
Onsen: Gunma, Kumamoto, Hakone & Izu
Festivals: Earth Celebration (Niigata), Fuji Rock (Niigata)


Left: Nara / Right: View of Mt. Fuji

A journey to Japan can be both life-changing and unforgettable, and if you’re still not sure where to go, then why not try one of our many tours. Please check out and follow our blog for latest reviews and photos of places to see, and things to do and eat in the land of the rising sun.

Accommodation

Besides Western style hotels and pensions, a variety of uniquely Japanese style accommodations can be found in Japan, such as ryokan and minshuku.

Transportation

Most of Japan's major cities offer efficient public transportation networks, and are connected with each other by the shinkansen, the Japanese bullet train.

Food

The Japanese cuisine is one of Japan's greatest attractions. A great variety of Japanese cuisine and food from around the world can be enjoyed in Japan.

Japan offers an abundance of gastronomical delights with a boundless variety of regional and seasonal dishes as well as international cuisine. Restaurants range from mobile food stands to centuries old ryotei, atmospheric drinking places, seasonally erected terraces over rivers, cheap chain shops and unique theme restaurants about ninja and robots. Many restaurants are specialized in a single type of dish, while others offer a variety of dishes.

Religion in Japan

Shinto is as old as the Japanese culture, while Buddhism was imported from the mainland in the 6th century. Since then, the two religions have been co-existing relatively harmoniously and have even complemented each other to a certain degree. Most Japanese consider themselves Buddhist, Shintoist or both. Religion does not play a big role in the everyday life of most Japanese people today. The average person typically follows the religious rituals at ceremonies like birth, weddings and funerals, may visit a shrine or temple on New Year and participates at local festivals (matsuri), most of which have a religious background.

History

Legend attributes the creation of Japan to the sun goddess, from whom the emperors were descended. The first of them was Jimmu, supposed to have ascended the throne in 660 B.C. , a tradition that constituted official doctrine until 1945.

Recorded Japanese history begins in approximately A.D. 400, when the Yamato clan, eventually based in Kyoto, managed to gain control of other family groups in central and western Japan. Contact with Korea introduced Buddhism to Japan at about this time. Through the 700s Japan was much influenced by China, and the Yamato clan set up an imperial court similar to that of China. In the ensuing centuries, the authority of the imperial court was undermined as powerful gentry families vied for control.

At the same time, warrior clans were rising to prominence as a distinct class known as samurai. In 1192, the Minamoto clan set up a military government under their leader, Yoritomo. He was designated shogun (military dictator). For the following 700 years, shoguns from a succession of clans ruled in Japan, while the imperial court existed in relative obscurity.

First contact with the West came in about 1542, when a Portuguese ship off course arrived in Japanese waters. Portuguese traders, Jesuit missionaries, and Spanish, Dutch, and English traders followed. Suspicious of Christianity and of Portuguese support of a local Japanese revolt, the shoguns of the Tokugawa period (1603–1867) prohibited all trade with foreign countries; only a Dutch trading post at Nagasaki was permitted. Western attempts to renew trading relations failed until 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry sailed an American fleet into Tokyo Bay. Trade with the West was forced upon Japan under terms less than favorable to the Japanese. Strife caused by these actions brought down the feudal world of the shoguns. In 1868, the emperor Meiji came to the throne, and the shogun system was abolished.

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