Take urban adventure to new heights within Tokyo’s endless side streets or slow down in rural Hida-Takayama’s old town; snorkel along Okinawa’s white-sand beaches or ski Nagano’s snow-covered alps; explore Kyoto’s untouched temples and shrines or bask in Fukuoka’s volcanic hot springs—Japan's blend of tradition, natural wonder, and hyper-modernity is like nowhere else on Earth.
Locals will tell you the best time to visit Tokyo is in the fall and spring, when temperatures are temperate and the scenery is stunning. Both cherry blossom season and autumn foliage season are excellent times to visit. Many festivals take place during the month of July, when Mount Fuji is also open for climbing.
Tokyo is one of the most well-connected cities on the planet in terms of transportation, and it’s easy to get almost anywhere by train (subway tickets start at $1.40). Note you will need to walk to and from stations, so bring some good walking shoes. Taxis can be pricey but helpful in navigating the city.
Whether exploring Japan’s metropolises or trekking through the countryside, you’ll be richly rewarded with historical sites and stories. The Japanese are serious about their cultural heritage and artisans—known as shokunin, masters of their craft—are recognized as national treasures. Shinto and Buddhism are the main religions and the country is sprinkled with Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines from throughout Japan’s long history. The Japanese celebrate the seasons and Buddhist and Shinto holidays with festivals throughout the year.
You could easily plan an entire journey throughout Japan based on food alone. Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world, and every region of Japan touts its own specific cuisines; Hokkaido’s snow crabs, for example, and Fukuoka’s tonkotsu ramen. Try at least one kaiseki, a traditional multi-course meal that is often served at Japanese inns known as ryokan. Other not-to-miss Japanese dishes include okonomiyaki savory pancakes, yakitori grilled meats (which are best paired with a Japanese lager at a type of bar called an izakaya), and wagashi traditional sweets.
Japanese Yen (¥)
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