Japan Destination Guide
Japan holidays have never looked so good! Pick a season and experience the magic of the cherry blossoms in Kyoto in Spring, shopping and cultural activities in Tokyo in Summer, the Autumn maple leaves in Shizuoka and Hokkaido's perfect skiing conditions in Winter.
Japan tours cover the breadth of this diverse country consisting of more than 6,000 islands and 47 prefectures. As the cherry blossom front sweeps across the land, bringing warmer weather and with it the fragrant blooms of this unique decorative tree, the people of Japan come out in droves for 'Hanami' – a Japanese picnic under the cherry blossom trees. Festivals during cherry blossom season abound, celebrating the significance of the enduring metaphor of life that these cyclic flowers represent. The spread of blooms begins in January in the southern-most prefecture of Okinawa, reaching Kyoto and Tokyo by the end of March.
Tokyo is Japan's capital and its most vibrant city. Made up of numerous wards, the city boasts numerous distinct neighbourhoods. Shibuya is Tokyo's unofficial heart, with its neon splendour featured in many films. Shibuya is home to Yoyogi Park – 55 hectares of green expanse in the heart of the city which is home to the Meiji Shrine. Yoyogi Park comes to life on Sundays when a raucous collection of manga-loving teens, rock'n'roll wannabes and fashion aficionados take to the streets. Shinjuki is famous for its Golden Gai bar district and innumerable restaurants. Japan's delicious traditional fare is sushi (raw fish, seaweed and rice) and sake (traditional alcoholic drink derived from fermented rice). Harijuku is the best shopping district with vast boulevards of boutiques and department stores.
Like the cherry blossom season before it, the Autumn leaves sweep across Japan in an explosion of vibrant colour. Starting in mid-September, the Autumn leaf 'front' or 'koyo' moves southward, hitting Kyoto and Tokyo in December. There are numerous national parks where the leaves are spectacular, including Daisetsuzan National Park, Fuji Five Lakes and Tokufuji. Japan travel in Autumn is one of the best times to explore the picturesque leaves which frame ancient wooden temples, crystalline lakes and craggy mountains with a golden ring of fire.
Ski Japan from early December to early May. The best skiing is in the northern-most prefecture of Hokkaido. Many resorts centre around the town of Niseko with some of the best powder in the world. However, Japan has ski resorts across its length – from Saga province to Niigata and Yamaguchi. Celebrated for more than 14 feet of average snowfall during the season, Japan is the perfect place to take pleasure in some powder.
International flights to Japan generally disembark in Tokyo or Osaka and the sprawling cities are great place to start your holiday in the Land of the Rising Sun.