Japan is a country of opposites. You need only spend a night in the capital, Tokyo, to see the beauty of ancient customs mingle with the futuristic world of technology and the fashion-forward. Wander through the fish markets in Tokyo, take a trip on a bullet train between cities, or simply marvel at the stunning natural beauty—Japan has something for everyone. Immerse yourself in this fascinating country with Flight Centre’s small-group tours, where the more intimate group size and local guides will really show the hidden gems of Japan’s cities and lesser-known sights.
Eat your way through Tokyo
Image: Tokyo City food, Mirae Campbell
No trip to Japan is complete without a visit to Tokyo. The tightly packed crossings and whirlwind atmosphere of one of the busiest cities in the world is truly a sight to be seen. As one of the culinary capitals of the world, the best way to explore Tokyo is by tasting it. Begin your food adventure with a visit to Tsukiji Fish Market where some of the best and freshest sushi is found. Slurp down some cheap ramen like a local for lunch then wander the streets for yakitori and a beer for dinner.
Stay with Buddhist monks in Koyasan
Take the train to Koyasan to experience the religious centre of Shingon Buddhism. With some of the most exquisite natural landscapes in Japan, Koyasan is a city of temples. Over half the population are monks with 120 temples scattered throughout the small town. Visit the mysterious Okunoin cemetery that resides on the impressive Mount Koya. Then come back to the Shukubo Temple lodgings, run by Buddhist monks, to relax while taking in the customs of traditional Japanese accommodation.
Meet the geishas of Kyoto
Image: Geisha, Rachel Lewis
The centre of the geisha traditions, Kyoto is famous for its ancient customs and amazing food. Kyoto is home to more than 2,000 temples, shrines, and gardens, making it an ideal place to explore. Walk through the eastern hills along the Path of Philosophy to see some of the most impressive temples in Kyoto. In the evening, head to the historic city of Gion to see the famous geishas. Observe the ancient tradition of the geisha or perhaps attend a tea ceremony at one of the district’s teahouses.
Bathe in the famous Hakone onsen
On arrival at Hakone, you’ll notice the stunning landscape that surrounds the town. Explore the surrounding mountains, walk around the lake or visit the famous sulphur springs. While in Hakone, be sure to take a dip in an outdoor onsen, and make yourself acquainted with onsen etiquette—no clothing or swimming costumes are allowed.
Sing your heart out in Osaka
Osaka is another city you should eat your way through. Credited as having some of Japan’s best street food, it is definitely a city to savour. Try traditional okonomiyaki (a delicious savoury pancake), pick-up some kushikatsu (deep-fried meat skewers), and sample one of Osaka’s most famous street foods—takoyaki (deep-fried octopus balls) all while sipping on a beer from the nearby Asahi Brewery. In the evening, make your way to a local karaoke bar and enjoy more beers while belting out your favourite tunes.
Visit the Peace Memorial Park and Museum in Hiroshima
Image: Hiroshima Peace Park, Brooke Sabin
If you find yourself in Hiroshima be sure to visit the Genbaku (A-Bomb) Dome and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. The memorial is a fateful reminder of August 1945, when the first wartime atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima levelling the whole city. In the afternoon head to the tranquil island of Miyajima, home to the Shinto shrine of Itsukushima. If you’re there at high tide, the bright orange gate rises above the water and is said to be one of the most beautiful sites in Japan.
Book your next Japan adventure with Flight Centre. Speak to a small group travel specialist on 1300 018 390 or visit their website
This content is brought to by our sponsor: Flight Centre.
Lead Image: The Tori Gate, Miyajima, Brook Sabin