Japan is bursting at the seams with natural beauty, enchanting culture and unique experiences. It’s the contrasts in Japan that make it so exceptional.
Wandering the busy streets of Tokyo provides glimpses of an uncharted future. Surrounded by neon lights and pop culture, people watching in Tokyo takes on a whole new meaning. Tokyo offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining to its visitors. The city is also home to fascinating history and many excellent museums and historic temples. Contrary to popular belief, Tokyo also offers a number of stunning gardens and attractive green spaces within easy reach of the city centre.
Less than an hour by bullet train is the tranquil location of Hakone, where visitors can take a relaxing cruise on Lake Ashi-no in the foot hills of Mt Fuji. Get up closer with a trip on the Hakone Ropeway and aerial cable car, with spectacular views of Mt Fuji and Owakudani, where steam can be seen spurting from the volcanic activity.
A few hours further down is the cultural centre of Japan, Kyoto, filled with World Heritage sites, shrines and temples, teahouses and gardens. It is true that you can lose yourself in the streets as you wander and explore the city’s gardens and monuments. Catch a glimpse of a beautiful Geisha on dusk in the Geisha quarter of Gion, made famous in Memoirs of a Geisha.
If military history piques your interest, then a visit to Hiroshima is a must. Well known as the atomic bomb site, Hiroshima has reinvented itself to become a thriving seaside city with stylish atmosphere. A visit to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum is both sobering and educational.
Japan is a hotbed of geothermal activity, with over 25,000 naturally occurring mineral hot springs. They form part of the daily ritual, with locals bathing in the traditional Japanese Onsen.
Japan has wonderful diverse cuisine. For much of the last decade, Tokyo, the capital of Japan, has held the record for the most Michelin starred restaurants within a city throughout the entire world, beating even Paris. The Japanese are passionate about their food and its presentation. Each plate is presented as an art form, with local and seasonal ingredients. Rice and fish form staple ingredients, and yet Australian Wagyu Beef is still highly acclaimed. Japan is rightly famed for its cuisine and gracious hospitality.
A visit to Japan is possible in any season. The delicate cherry blossoms occur for a limited season in spring, and in autumn Japan is ablaze with colour. Winter however, is spectacular for all the right reasons. The days are clear and cool, with snow falling regularly across the country. Japan has a credible reputation on the world ski slope stage, where travellers come from across the globe to experience world class skiing, so if you’re looking for a winter getaway in the middle of our Australian summer, then Japan is both fascinating and intriguing.
Local tour company Quadrant Australia is offering a Farmers’ Tour of Japan departing in May. If you are interested in seeing the incredible sights of Japan and being able to get off the beaten track and on to farms where you can meet the farmers and hear their stories, then contact the team at Quadrant Australia in Vernon St or visit their website: www.quadrantaustralia.com