With the delayed 2020 Olympic Games finally underway in Japan, now is a great time to explore what this amazing country has to offer. From the ancient temples to the modern and futuristic skyscrapers, and to everything else in-between, Japan has something to satisfy everyone – culture, fun, food, and of course beautiful scenery.
Spend a night in a ryokan and enjoy typical Japanese hospitality. These traditional Japanese inns offer elegant, minimalist spaces usually furnished with just a low table and chairs. Enjoy green tea on arrival and meals served in your room. Futons will be set up for you after dinner and are surprisingly quite comfortable. There are a range of ryokans to suit your budget, from the simple minshuku (guesthouse) to the more luxurious and indulgent ryokans.
Another classic Japanese experience is relaxing in the steaming hot waters of an onsen (hot spring bath). There are a variety of onsens offering varied environments, from indoor to outdoor, simple or luxurious, to small and large. Most onsens are shared with others and divided by gender (as you must be completely naked..), however some have private baths which you can reserve. You will also find that some ryokans have their own onsens, and usually include a pass to visit the other onsens in town.
How about watching Sumo wrestlers in action? Steeped in tradition, this national sport is taken seriously and includes rituals dating back to its ancient origins. You can see sumo wrestling at one of the tournaments that happen a few times a year (prebooking is recommended) or take a tour to a sumo heya (stable) where you can watch a morning training session.
Train travel in Japan is an experience not to be missed and what better way to do it than by shinkansen (bullet train). These ultra-high speed trains can reach speeds of up to 199mph and make travelling between major cities fast and easy.
Enjoy a go-karting experience like no other! Only in Japan could you dress up as your favourite character and drive go-karts on the city’s main streets! You’ll have so much fun you’ll forget your fears as you drive alongside cars and buses. You must ensure that you have your international drivers licence though as this is a strict requirement.
Easily accessible from central Tokyo, DisneySea has a unique nautical theme and is one of the best Disney parks in the world. There are many fun rides at DisneySea and feature attractions such as Mediterranean Harbour with its distinct Italian look, or Mysterious Island featuring an erupting volcano. There’s also more adult-focussed attractions such as Broadway shows or cocktail bars.
Not to be missed is a visit to the mountain town of Nikko which has many UNESCO World Heritage temples. Nikko is just a few hours north of Tokyo and can be done as a day trip but staying overnight to get an early start will see you avoid the crowds. The Toshogu Shrine is the main attraction featuring lavishly decorated red and gold buildings set amongst ancient cedar trees.
The ultimate sightseeing spot belongs to Mount Fuji. This perfectly shaped volcano is Japan’s highest mountain at 3,776 metres and is most picturesque when snow-capped in the winter and spring. We suggest spending a few days in the area to increase your chances of seeing Mount Fuji’s peak as it is often obscured by cloud.
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