From snowboarding, sumo and sushi to soaking your stresses away in a traditional onsen (hot spring), Japan is as diverse as it is beautiful and unusual. From the weird, wonderful and wacky of ultra-modern urban living to a rich, ancient culture of geishas, precise tea rituals, Shinto worship and emperor warlords, this is a destination that won’t disappoint.
Where else would there be a constant procession of festivals celebrating everything from fertility, where a giant phallus is paraded around Kawasaki, to cherry blossoms, the rice harvest and star-crossed lovers?
Subcultures abound in the realm of cos play and manga, while staid salarymen get loose after dark in tiny bars, many of which boast a karaoke machine. Those who party hard will love the music scene, and the Fuji Rock Festival is unforgettable. For fashionistas and gadget geeks, shopping in some of Tokyo’s better known districts, like Ginza, Harajuku and Akihabara, will be a guilty pleasure. But it’s not just about neon and crazy pedestrian crossings. Visit the seaside city of Kamakura to see the Great Buddha, go to Hokkaido for hiking during summer and skiing in the winter, or experience Naoshima, Japan’s art island.