Japan National Tourism Organization, Japan
JAPAN: ENDLESS DISCOVERY (Intro)
Japan is a traveller’s dream destination. Its ancient culture, combined with extraordinary hospitality and memorable meals, ensure an exceptional experience. It is perhaps the contrasts of the country that make it so alluring. Japan offers some of the largest and most vibrant cities on Earth, but also beautiful countryside vistas. It produces high-tech gadgets and robots, but also centuries-old crafts. Read on to explore some of the diversity just waiting to be discovered.
CRAFTS AND CULTURE
A rich history and culture are a large part of Japan’s appeal. Traditional troupes perform Noh and Kabuki at major national theatres, while farther afield digital art pioneers such as teamLab are pushing the boundaries of technology in new immersive exhibitions. In old cities like Kyoto, traditional townscapes and culture still endure, while the many art museums and modern architecture found on the picturesque islands of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima offer unique settings to enjoy world-class artists while taking in a slow island lifestyle.
Throughout Japan, artisans young and old are also keeping Japan’s craft traditions alive. In the pottery regions of Mashiko, Arita and Mino, you can visit kilns and workshops that produce beautiful ceramics for daily use or the high art of Japan’s tea ceremony. Other regions specialise in everything from jeans to furniture to metalwork and a visit brings you up close and personal with the people excelling at their craft.
Red Pumpkin, Naoshima, Kagawa/“Red Pumpkin” ©Yayoi Kusama, 2006 Naoshima Miyanoura Port Square Photo/Daisuke Aochi
Japan’s dining scene has few equals. The diversity of choice is mind-boggling: from izakaya (Japanese-style gastropubs) and tiny ramen counters to restaurants that specialise in tempura. Every meal is a visual and palate-pleasing experience and a reflection of seasonal ingredients. Tokyo, which boasts more Michelin stars than any other city, and Japan, in general, have become a magnet for gourmet travellers. The capital boasts some of the world’s finest restaurants serving French and Italian food prepared with Japanese ingredients and a meticulous attention to detail. In smaller cities, you’ll marvel at the smorgasbord of regional specialities.
Japan offers rich and varied choices for where to spend the night, ranging from global chains with their known high standards combined with an eye for local customs to simple, serene shukubo temple lodgings, where travellers are invited to partake in the daily meditation and chores and eat vegetarian meals. At traditional ryokan inns, guests sleep on tatami mats, dine on multicourse meals and soak in natural hot spring baths. In Kyoto and Nara, renovated old wooden townhouses are available for rent for a more live-in experience, and in more remote locales small, charming hotels offer a unique opportunity to experience life in Japan’s countryside.
Spanning more than 3,000 kilometres north to south, the Japanese archipelago has a climate that ranges from tropical to temperate. Add to this four distinct seasons and you are in for a treat of natural scenery to be enjoyed anytime during the year. For the adventure seeking traveller, Japan offers the opportunity to swim amongst the coral reefs in Okinawa in summer and ski in powdery snow in Hokkaido in winter. Hiking trails crisscross the country’s mountain ranges and religious pilgrims trek the 1,200 kilometres of forested trails around southwestern Shikoku Island. Whether you’re camping in national parks surrounded by local flora and fauna or rafting along through picturesque canyons, there’s an abundance of outdoor activities and vistas for anyone to enjoy.
TRAVEL IN STYLE
Shinkansen bullet trains are a fast and stress-free way of getting around the country. But slow rail travel can be just as pleasurable. Luxury trains such as the Seven Stars in Kyushu, Train Suite Shikishima and Twilight Express Mizukaze are a throwback to the heyday of well-appointed sleeper trains with dining cars, private rooms and curated sightseeing tours. Or you can cruise the waters of the Seto Inland Sea aboard guntû, a boat that offers the experience of a luxury hotel. Local fishermen unload their catch daily to the ship, guaranteeing the quality of the sushi served onboard.
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TRAVELLER MADE HOTEL PARTNERS
- Amanemu, Mie
- Aman Tokyo, Tokyo
- Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, Tokyo
- Imperial Hotel, Tokyo
- Park Hyatt Tokyo, Tokyo
- Ryokan Kurashik, Okayama
- The Peninsula Tokyo, Tokyo
- Unzen Kanko Hotel, Nagasaki