Japan, the island nation in the Pacific, offers the striking contrast of high-rise-filled cities with neon skyscrapers and imperial palaces, of world class theme parks and mountainous national parks, and of thousands of shrines and temples and pop culture. Striking national parks, and snow capped mountains are easily accessible thanks to a world-class transport infrastructure, including high speed trains. Here the top five places to visit:
Kyoto is a must-visit to experience the culture and traditions of Japan at its best. Numerous Buddhist temples, and Shinto shrines vie with gardens and cherry blossoms in this ancient city. Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion ranks as the most popular attraction in all japan. Kiyomizu-dera, another Buddhist temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Arashiyama, the mountain across the Oi River, with tall green trees on either side of the road, is a place of immense scenic beauty.
Tokyo, with its hundreds of neon-lit skyscrapers, the iconic Tokyo Tower, Opera City Tower, Tokyo Disneyland, Disney Sea, Tokyo Dome City, and many more and the fast life offers the best modern civilization. Shopping is reason alone to visit Tokyo. The Akihabara is famous all over the world for its electronics and games, and the Shibuya, a 109 floor shopping centre is just for teenage girls.
The city has plenty of attractions that stand testimony to the country’s glorious past, with the Imperial palace and the Edo castle being two iconomic monuments of note. The Imperial Palace is now a museum that showcases japan’s art and history. The beautiful Sakura or cherry blossom is best experienced at Ueno Park.
The most popular attraction in all Japan, and a national symbol in itself, Mount Fuji is an active strato-volcano that last erupted in 1707–08. The perfectly symmetrical volcanic cone that rises to a height of 3,776 meters offers a pleasant site from far and wide.
Climbing the mountain, to enjoy the spectacular 360-degree views from top that covers the Hakone mountains, Lake Ashi, and the Owakudani Valley, offers lifelong memories. The mountain is about 100 kilometers from Tokyo.
If there is time to visit just one castle in Japan, opt for the Himeji Castle, situated atop a mount, and the best surviving example of Japanese castle architecture, and popularised by the James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice.”. The white exterior and design give the castle the appearance of a bird taking flight.
A visit to Japan is incomplete without savouring Sushi, the national dish, served everywhere from casual pubs to gourmet restaurants. In essence, Sushi is a dish containing rice and preserved in vinegar, and there are over a hundred different kinds of sushi.
The popular types are Nigiri, or small rice balls with fish on top, Gunkan, or small cups of sushi rice with dried seaweed filled with seafood, Norimaki or sushi rice and seafood rolled in dried seaweed sheets, Temaki Temakizushi, or cones of nori seaweed filled with sushi rice, vegetables, and seafood, and more.