JAPAN

Cherry blossoms and rock gardens, chrysanthemums and bonsai, microchips and mega industries, kimonos and kabuki, geishas and samurais, haiku and hara-kiri, Japan presents the visitor with a study in contrasts. It can be very modern with concrete jungles like Tokyo- or it can present an enchanting, typically Japanese picture of settlements like Kyoto, with its myriad gardens and temples. It can wear the serenity of Mt. Fuji or scramble with the rush hour traffic of downtown Tokyo. 

In between lies a whole host of cities and towns, some with historical associations, like the legendary port of Yokohama, much celebrated in fiction; and some associated with everlasting human tragedies. But there is one thing all of Japan has in common, and that is an unfailing sense of tradition and culture. No matter how modern, how technologically advanced the Japanese might become, there is always an affinity for tradition: and this is reflected in every aspect of their lives. Under the steel and the concrete lies Nippon- with its temples, its gardens, its streets and its teahouses: very traditional, very Japanese. 

There is something very strait-laced and very regimental about the Japanese, or so it would appear, to a casual observer and the country as such is so perfect- efficient, clean, beautiful- that it can be a little intimidating- if you don’t dig any further. The image Japan has acquired over the years is of a country where dignity, honor and hard work are ethics so part of life that they have become bywords for the country and its people. 

But scratch the surface, and you’ll find a land that is extremely beautiful, where values, morals and good manners are prized but faux pas are tolerated, a people who can be very hospitable and very warm, once you come to know them. And, as a tourist, you should, if you really want to get to the core of Japan, try to get to know its people- their culture, their customs, their ability to be very traditional and yet very, very contemporary. 

Japan is an enigma - travel to Japan to discover it!

Capital:  Tokyo

Best Time to Visit:

  1. The best times to visit the country are therefore during the spring (March and April) when the cherry blossoms are in bloom and the autumn (September and October) when the foliage changes colors.
  2. If possible try not to visit Japan during the holidays, when nearly all Japanese go on vacation, and most accommodation as well as travel facilities are stretched to capacity.
  3. The periods to avoid are around New Year, in mid-August, and for a week after April 29 called the Golden week: these are popular Japanese festivals when a large chunk of the population travels home.

Min Days Required: 6 days

Places of Interest:

1) Tokyo – Roppongi , Tokyo Skytree, Rainbow Bridge, Meiji Shrine, Tokyo Imperial Palace, Harajuku

2) Osaka–Osaka Aquarium, Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi,Minami (Namba)

3) Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera, Arashiyama, Kinkaku-ji, Nijō Castle,Eikan-dōZenrin-ji 

Climate:

  1. Japan’s climate is very diverse- the latitudinal spread of the country is such that different parts of Japan experience different kinds of weather.
  2. The northern regions of the country have a more or less sub-arctic climate, with long, cold winters (with lots of snow!), and brief summers.
  3. Similarly, winters are cold and snowy in the west of Japan- a consequence of the merging of icy Siberian winds with moist Pacific air. 
  4. Southern Japan is comparatively warmer and more humid; summers tend to be muggy all over the country.
  5. The humidity peaks in late summer, when typhoons, gales and heavy rains hit much of the country, especially in the southern areas.
  6. Spring and autumn are easily the best seasons in Japan: pleasant and beautiful.

Currency: Yen

Things to carry:

  1. Keeping in mind Japan’s climate, make sure you bring along the correct sort of clothing- light for summers, and adequate woolens for the winter.
  2. Some restaurants in the country can be pretty strict about proper 'evening dress’, so if there’s a chance you’ll be going out, make sure you’ve got something formal enough.
  3. Remember that shoes of any kind are not allowed into temples, and it’s proper to take off your shoes before entering someone’s home- so it’s convenient to take shoes you can slip on and off without much trouble.
  4. While on the subject of temples- make sure you’re decently clad if you’re visiting one; shorts or other `just-about-dressed’ clothing is frowned upon. 
  5. Most medicines, toiletries and other items are commonly available in Japan, especially in the larger cities.
  6. One last thing: if you’re a coffee addict, take some sachets along- coffee isn’t popular in Japan, and it’s particularly hard to find in smaller towns and villages.

How to get there:

Air:

  1. Japan is very well connected with the rest of the world, so getting to the country isn’t a problem as such.
  2. A number of international airlines regularly fly circuits linking Japan to Europe, Asia, North America and other destinations.
  3. Japan’s main international airport is Narita International, 80 km from Tokyo; there are other international airports too, at Osaka, Kyushu and Sapporo, but the volume of traffic handled by these is much less than Narita.