When many international travelers think of Japan, they call to mind visions of crowded “neon cities” such as Tokyo. Japan, however, has a much gentler side, complete with rolling hills and rustic charm. The town of Takayama and the Japanese Alps mountain range in the Hokuriku region represent one such rural destination.
The Japanese word onsen refers to the hot springs that dot the islands of Japan, fed by warm, mineral-rich spring water. Japan hosts a volcanic geography, so the water is heated naturally by geothermal forces. It bubbles forth from the ground, filling pools with water that is somewhat hotter than a standard Jacuzzi or hot tub.
Onsens are a popular attraction for Japanese tourists, due to both their cultural significance and their relaxing, recreational nature. Onsens play a significant role in Japanese culture, and they are used extensively by Japanese residents. It is thought that onsen have healing and rejuvenating qualities, helping conditions such as skin ailments and cancer.
Osaka City is a bustling metropolitan area popular among international tourists. Osaka itself is home to many unique attractions, including vast parks and gardens, historic Osaka Castle, the Tenmangu Shrine, Osaka Aquarium, and the National Bunraku Theater.
Visitors to Osaka also enjoy the Dotonbori district, where travelers can experience the local nightlife with restaurants and shopping centers open twenty-four hours a day; the covered Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street; and the Kitashinchi entertainment district.
Miyajima means “shrine island,” and this small island has since ancient times been a sacred place of worship, where the gods were thought to live in harmony with mortal man.
Also called Itsukushima, Miyajima Island is a densely wooded place of tranquil peace and beauty. The island is sparsely populated and home to native deer and wild monkeys. The Itsukushima Shrine and its Torii Gate have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and have been celebrated as one of the Three Views of Japan since 1643.
Hiroshima is a city with deep historical roots, evident in its ancient gardens and castles. During the 20h century, Hiroshima became the center of unenviable international attention after the first atomic bomb was detonated there on August 6, 1945 – destroying everything within two kilometers of impact.
Like the phoenix of legend, Hiroshima and its residents emerged from the ashes. Historical structures were restored, and the city took on aspirations of continued peace. Today, it is home to over one million people and a favorite stop for international tourists, thanks to the bullet train.
Nikko is a historic and scenic retreat in the heart of Japan, nestled in the mountains north of Tokyo. Located at the entrance to Nikko National Park, the town which offers beautiful mountain vistas, waterfalls, and hot springs. Hiking in the park, you may even spot a troop of wild native monkeys. The area has been sacred to the religions of Buddhism and Shinto for many centuries.
Many travellers ask us: what to do in Kyoto? If you are visiting Japan for a week, three days in Tokyo and three days in Kyoto are perfect to explore the two great capitals of Japan: the ancient and the modern one.
Following is a pleasant 3-day Kyoto travel guide, with ideas about what to see, where to go and how to use your Japan Rail Pass to move through the city, its temples, gardens, and geisha alleys. Let us begin!
Japan’s mountain scenery and excellent powder make for a once in a lifetime ski trip. The Japanese Alps have some of the top ski resorts in the world. Want to know the secret of how to see them all during your journey? One of the quickest and most comfortable ways to visit and get around Japan is by riding the bullet train. This guide will show you how the Japan Rail Pass will help get you to all of the top resorts for the snow season.
Mount Koya or Koyasan, in the Wakayama mountains of the Kansai region, has become a popular destination for tourists.
This religious area, located in remote mountains and surrounded by forests, is an amazing place which you can reach from Osaka or Kyoto with your Japan Rail Pass, making for the perfect day trip and even allowing visitors even to stay in a temple lodging.
A day-trip from Tokyo to Mount Fuji and the lesser known Hakone five lakes area is among Japan’s traveler’s favorites, so here is our guide on how to visit make this famous landmark with the Japan Rail Pass. Whereas you prefer climbing or a more relaxed pace, we have the perfect guide for you make the most out of this trip!