Japan – Experience the land of the rising sun.

The pandemic may have put a stop or pause to many events such as the 2020 Olympics which will now take place during the summer of 2021 but there are a number of other ‘not to be missed’ things to see and do as soon as travel re-opens which we’d like to share with you. These are some of the many wonderful reasons to visit this iconic destination; and if ever there was a time to do it it’s 2021, and so now is the time to start planning. Japan is home to over 126 million people and as well as being known for being clean as a country, its people are also renowned for their politeness and, with the highest life expectancy in the world they’re doing something right!
We often think of high-tech cities when we think of Japan but in fact Japan is made up of over 6000 islands. The main islands are:

  • Honshu – the largest and most populous island with the capital Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.
  • Hokkaido – the northernmost and second largest main island.
  • Kyushu – the third largest main island and nearest to the Asian continent.
  • Shikoku – the second smallest main island after Okinawa

There is so much variety to see and do within these islands that it is hard to know where to start; the snowy mountains and ski resorts of Hokkaido, the rainforest and beaches of Kyushu or the historical city of Kyoto. So, we’ve picked out some places and things to do that you might not have heard about, and we hope that you can fit these around the main event of the Olympics itself. Or you might just visit at a time when the Olympics is not on to avoid the crowds. Either way we’d be delighted to help you to plan your visit.

  1. Mount Fuji is an active volcano about 100 kilometres southwest of Tokyo. Commonly called “Fuji-san,” it’s the country’s tallest peak at 3,776 meters. A pilgrimage site for centuries, it is considered one of Japan’s 3 sacred mountains, and summit hikes remain a popular activity. In fact, more than 200,000 people climb to the summitevery year, mostly during the warmer summer months.
  2. Osaka is known as the food capital of Japan. This vibrant commercial centre on the island of Honshu is the place to sample some of Japan’s famous dishes such as Takoyaki (Octopus Balls), Okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancakes), Ikayaki (squid pancake), and Kushi Katsu (deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables)
  3. Maruyama park is one of the best places in Japan to see the stunning display of blossom in the spring. One of the most amazing sights is a huge tree, whose blossom-fringed branches bow towards the ground. It’s lit up in the evening from dusk until midnight, which is well worth sticking around for. Nearby Mount Yishino is also a ‘must visit’, covered in over 30,000 cherry trees. You will not have seen anything quite like this; people come to visit Japan in the spring just to see such sites.
  4. Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan and is famous for its numerous Buddhist temples, gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. You should also try to experience some of the traditions such as kaiseki dining, amazing meals of many small and perfect dishes; and geisha, female entertainers dressed in traditional costume.
  5. Visit Aizu and test your sword skills at a samurai training academy whilst also trying your hand at some traditional crafts in the Nanukamachi district.
  6. Experience the natural beauty of Matsushima Bay by taking a ferry around its 200 islands, inhabited by cats and deer!
  7. While visiting Osaka or Kyoto, take a day trip to Muyajima island and Hiroshima. Hiroshima is of course famous for the bombing in 1945 but today is a lovely modern city, only about 1 ½ hour by the bullet train. The Bullet train or ‘Shinkansen’ is a wonderful way to travel between Japan’s major centres. Travelling at speeds of 200mph it’s fast and an experience all of its own.

So, I hope this has whetted your appetite, whether or not you want to combine a visit to Japan with the 2020 Olympics in 2021, we believe you will love it.

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