A Visitor’s Guide To Japan
Japan is not only one of the oldest established nations in Asia, but it is also one of the most powerful economies worldwide, with the third largest gross domestic product in the world. However, for visitors to the country it is the bustling vibrant city streets and magnificent natural sights that make it such an attractive proposition. Much of Japan is very modern, with many of the cities having been largely destroyed during World War Two, and those visiting Hiroshima will see that the legacy of being attacked using nuclear bombs is still fresh in the memory of so many people.
Japan is generally a very safe country to travel to, with crime levels very low, although there are still restrictions in place around the site of the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor which suffered significant damage during the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Top Sights To See In Japan
Mount Fuji – The iconic image of Mount Fuji is a sight that every visitor to Japan will know even before they arrive, and this stunning volcano is a very popular site for hiking as well as being an excellent launch site for para-gliders.
The Cherry Blossoms Of Mount Yoshino – Famous for the beauty of its cherry blossoms that flower throughout the spring, Mount Yoshino is part of a beautiful area in the southern part of Honshu island.
Tokyo – The business center of Tokyo is a densely populated area of skyscrapers and important buildings, while it is also a hugely popular destination for culinary tourists as its restaurants combine to possess more Michelin Stars than any other city in the world.
Historic Kyoto – This former capital of Japan was the seat of its feudal emperors for many centuries, and has some of the best preserved temples and shrines, and also has a selection of museums to enjoy too.
Shiretoko National Park – At the north east tip of Hokkaido Island, this heavily forested area can only be explored by boat or on foot, and is home to some stunning landscapes and the beautiful hot spring waterfall at Kamuiwakka.
The Ogasawara Islands – Some thousand kilometers south of Tokyo, this archipelago of over thirty islands is the best water-sports destination in the country, offering scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and whale watching, along with the chance to relax on some superb beaches.
The Todaiji Temple – Located within the city of Nara this beautiful temple dates from the eighth century, and is home to a huge bronze statue of the Buddha as well as a beautiful garden that is truly a relaxing haven within the city.
Himeji Castle – Dating from the fourteenth century at the height of Feudal Japan, this is a fortified castle that also offered comfortable accommodation within the strong fortifications, while the beautiful main keep of the castle is truly remarkable.
Kamakura – The small city of Kamakura was once the capital of Japan, and is known for being home to a number of Buddhist and Shinto temples, including the Great Buddha of Kamakura, which used to lie within a temple which collapsed around the statue during a great tsunami in the fifteenth century.
Niseko Ski Resort – The most popular skiing destination in Japan, Niseko offers some great skiing slopes and exciting night life which makes it a growing destination for skiers.
Where To Stay In Japan
Shinagawa Prince Hotel – This stunning hotel is almost a destination in itself with swimming pools, a huge tropical fish tank with a walk-through tunnel, bowling lanes and a cinema, and also offers comfortable accommodation in a city center location.
Ginza Capital Main Hotel – For those looking for a reasonably priced hotel with good transport links to central Tokyo this is a great option, offering compact but comfortable rooms with excellent communication facilities just a short distance away from the city center.
Kyoto Hotel Okura – This wonderfully located hotel has an excellent range of facilities within a comfortable and impressive interior, including a swimming pool and a large bar enjoying panoramic views across the city.
Hotel Gimmond Kyoto – Within a short walk of some of the most beautiful of Kyoto’s temples, this comfortable hotel offers well priced accommodation that is a great base to explore the city, with a charming garden that is ideal for relaxing after a day walking around Kyoto.
Hearton Hotel Kita Umeda – Comfortable accommodation is on offer here in a hotel designed with some Japanese features, particularly in the lobby, while the hotel is also within easy reach of the main tourist attractions in the city.
Cross Hotel – A stylish hotel that enjoys modern features such as flat screen TVs and wireless internet access, this hotel is a few hundred yards from the main shopping district and is perfect for a luxury getaway.
Okinawa Miyako Hotel – Classy accommodation situated at the heart of the city, highlights at the Miyako include a superb Japanese restaurant and luxurious rooms, while the location is within easy reach of Shurijo Castle Park and other sights in the city.
Hotel Atollemerald Miyakojima – This seafront hotel is ideally located for nearby beaches and the snorkeling and diving areas on the island, and enjoys spacious rooms and an outdoor swimming pool.
Japanese cuisine has been exported to much of the world, and one of the most famous types of food available is sashimi, which is made of thinly cut raw fish or meat that can either be a starter or served with rice and miso soup as a main meal. Another of the most famous dishes is Tonkatsu, a fried breaded pork cutlet which is served with its own sauce, or included as a sandwich filling in fast food restaurants. One of the delicacies of Japanese cuisine is Shabu Shabu Beef, made up of thin slices of meat boiled in water and served with a selection of savory dipping sauces.
Currency And Visa
The national currency of Japan is Japanese Yen, and generally trades at around one hundred yen per US Dollar, although this has fluctuated quite significantly over recent years. American visitors to Japan do not need to acquire a visa before traveling to the country if their trip is for less than ninety days.