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Where to Go in Japan ?
Tokyo, Japan’s bustling capital city, is situated on Honshu Island, the largest island of Japan. The Tokyo metropolitan area encompasses Tokyo City and Izu and Ogasawara areas. Tokyo’s population of over 11 million makes it one of the largest urban centres in the world. In the early 17th century when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu established his government, the city began to develop, spreading around his residence at Edo Castle.
Today, Tokyo is made up of several cities within a city. The main areas in Tokyo, include
Ginza The famous shopping strip with its wide boulevards where the famous shops of the world stand side by side.
Shinjuku A city of high-rise buildings, department stores, fashion boutiques, restaurants, pubs and nightclubs that never sleep.
Asakusa Step back in time to the famous temple complexes with reminiscences of the traditional Edo buildings and streets.
Shibuya The trendy street culture where fashion for the young is born.
Akihabara The electrical and computer town where shops compete, to attract the many shoppers from Japan and overseas.
Tsukiji The open-air wholesale fish market that services all consumers in Japan.
Tokyo is serviced by Narita International Airport, located in Chiba prefecture The airport is approx 65km from central Tokyo and is easily accessed by Express Train or Airport Limousine Bus.
Kansai area includes Osaka, Nara and Kyoto. The Kansai region is the cultural and historical heart of Japan.It is the eastern most point on the Silk route. Kansai International Airport itself is a feat of engineering, located on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay, connected to the mainland by a 3km long bridge.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto
Kyoto, the old imperial capital of Japan, is famous worldwide for its temples and shrines. It was the nation’s centre of politics and culture for 1,200 years until the capital was moved to Tokyo in the mid- 19th century. There remain many temples and shrines that had been built during this long period, which are now open to the public. Seventeen historic sites, including the Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the Nijo-jo Castle, are designated as World Cultural Heritage sites. You may also see and meet Geisha, who personify the living culture of Japan.
Not to be missed in Kyoto are
The Golden Pavilion, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Nijo-jo Castle, Gion area, Heian Shrine, Sanjusangendo
Osaka is located in the centre of the Kinki region in mid-west Japan. It has the country’s second highest population density second only after the capital, Tokyo. Mountains surround three sides of the Osaka prefecture and the west faces the arc-shaped Osaka Bay. Because of Osaka's close proximity to the former capitals of Japan, Kyoto and Nara, it prospered as an important Japanese city.
Osaka Castle which has a five-layer donjon as its core, and is situated on a lawn park that stretches for about 60,000 square metres. During the spring, the park is especially crowded with hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties.
Osaka's north gate, Umeda, has a gigantic underground shopping mall, with many restaurants and fashion shops, well worth visiting.
Nagoya has prospered as a key traffic junction between Edo (Tokyo) and Osaka for the past 400 years. The city's symbol, Nagoya Castle, was destroyed in a World War II air raid and the present castle is a modern reproduction. The Golden Shachihoko (fish-shaped ornaments) set on the roof edges of the castle is a historic symbol of Nagoya.
Nagoya is famous for its flat noodles called Kishimen and Japanese confectionery called Uiro (cake made from rice powder ). It is also the ceramics centre of Japan. The Noritake Garden, which is a comprehensive ceramics museum, is opened by Noritake and is well worth visiting. Enjoy shopping for tableware and experience ceramic making as you appreciate the beautiful Noritake masterpieces.
Another must see in Nagoya is the Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall and the Toyota Motor Plant.
Furano Flower Farm
Hokkaido is the northern island of Japan. Sapporo is the largest city in Hokkaido and your gateway to the wilderness and beauty this island has to offer.
Although Hokkaido is best known for the Ice and Snow festivals, skiing and other sports during the winter, the summer months are a very popular time to vist. The island has many parks filled with wild flowers, deer, bears and an amazing variety of bird life. Furano is famous for the Flower and Lavender Farms.
You can easily enjoy a variety of outdoor sports around Sapporo throughout the year, including skiing, hiking and rafting. There are also many hot springs. It is said to take six days to visit them all, even if you bathe three times a day.!
Mt. Yotei-zan is known as the source of one of Japan's best-tasting water.
Kyushu is the bottom island of the four main islands of Japan. Fukuoka, situated on the northern end of the island, is the major city and a key point of exchange between Japan and the rest of Asia.
The blooming apricot trees and the splendid display of iris bring many admiring tourists to Kyushu.
Tenmangu Shrine, sacred to the god of learning, is visited by many people, especially students seeking luck in their entrance exams.
The Senbutsu Shonyudo, a limestone cavern with beautiful stalagmite and stone pillars known for the discovery of fossil remains of Naumann elements, and other places of natural beauty make a visit to Kyushu worthwhile. In addition to these sites of natural beauty, there are some quirky theme parks such as Space World, which shows what futuristic cities in space and on earth may look like in the not too distant future.
‘Shikoku’ is the smallest of the 4 main islands located south of Kyoto and Osaka. Although it is separated by Setonaikai sea from Honshu, it is connected by bridges, including the world's longest suspension bridge. You can access Shikoku Island by road, train or airplane to add a unique experience to your Japan trip.
Naruto is the gateway to Shikoku. The biggest attraction in Naruto is the whirlpools in the Naruto Strait. The phenomenon occurs when opposing currents from the Inland Sea of Japan and the Kii Channel meet in the Naruto Strait with as much a water level difference as 1.5 meters that is made by the ebb and flow of the tide. At the time of very high tides in the spring through to autumn, huge whirlpools run at a speed of 20 kilometers an hour and exceed 20 meters in diameter. Tokushima is also well known because of its famous traditional festival held in mid August, Awa Odori Dance. It is said to have started at the opening of Tokushima Castle. The locals, having consumed a great amount of sake, began to drunkenly weave and stumble back and forth.