Japan at a glance

In preparation for your first trip to the Land of the Rising Sun, you need to make an important decision. Decide how long you want to go for, then double it, because you'll only just be scraping the surface of this fascinating destination. If time is tight, Tokyo alone is worth a trip because every neighbourhood is its own city. A potential Tokyo itinerary would see you experience the incredible Shibuya Crossing (the largest road crossing in the world, used by more than 100,000 people every day), and Shinjuku, with its business district on one side and red light district on the other. Next, make for the more traditional Asakusa, home to Senso-ji, Tokyo's oldest temple; then on to Harajuku, the fashion district popular with trendy teenagers.
Finally, visit Akihabara, the manga melting pot, and Ryogoku, Tokyo's sumo district. Kyoto, the former capital, remains loyal to its customs and traditions. Here, visitors will find the most beautiful temples, zen gardens and teahouses where geishas appear at dusk. Other must-sees on the island of Honshu are the perfectly symmetrical Mount Fuji, the deer in the gardens of Nara, the hugely poignant Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima and the snow monkeys enjoying the water of the hot springs in the Japanese Alps. Next, discover the sacred island of Miyajima, the museum island of Naoshima and the Kanakakei Gorge in Shodoshima. For a change of scene and scenery, travel north to Hokkaido, or south to the end of tropical Japan, on the Ryuku archipelago. Here the jungle is king, and visitors can bathe in the warm sea in the middle of January. Between the two extremes is Okinawa, home to the sword master in Kill Bill; Kyushu, with its volcanoes and onsen hot springs; and Shikoku, with its temple trails.

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