Japan

From kimono-clad geishas singing karaoke in Kyoto to Buddhist monks whizzing around Tokyo on motorbikes, Japan is a fascinating land of contrasts, a heady mix of tradition and modernity that often bewilders but never bores.

Deeply rooted in traditional culture and customs, Japan is not just one island but rather an island archipelago, densely populated and dotted with neon-lit cities. The brightest is Japan’s capital, Tokyo, who’s influence is felt across the world, setting fashion, food and architectural trends.

Many visit the city for its shopping districts. For luxury brands housed in architecturally cutting edge buildings, head to Ginza and for nightlife venture to Roppongi. Tokyo is also home to the stunningly peaceful Meiji Jingu shrine, a perfect display of the refined style of Shinto architecture combining Japanese cypress with green-copper roofs.

The most traditional of cities in Japan is Kyoto. Here, you can glimpse Geishas fleeting into wooden doorways, courtyards filled with smooth, groomed pebble stones and romantic bamboo groves. Also home to the enchanting Cherry Blossom Festival, Kyoto has 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than 1600 Buddhist temples and over 400 Shinto shrines.

To escape the hustle and bustle of the cities visit the revered ‘Fuji-San’, more commonly known as Mount Fuji. Its distinctive shape and snow-covered cone has become an iconic symbol of Japan.

Enjoy a martini at the ‘Lost in Translation Bar’ at the Park Hyatt, take a traditional Japanese stone bath, delight in the best sushi you will ever have, and ride the Tokyo subway and the shinkansen (bullet train). With an average speed of 170 miles per hour it is not the best way to see the countryside but the perfect way to get from city to city and is a lateral experience in itself.

Japan is indeed a nation of contrasts and those who venture there on holiday will gain a greater understanding of the unique ancient culture and traditions of this beautiful country.

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