West meets east in this fascinating country filled with diverse landscapes, massive cities, incredible traditions and thousands of years of culture waiting to be discovered.

We’re assuming the epic metropolis of Tokyo is on your list (why wouldn’t it be?!), but there’s much more to Japan than its capital. Here’s our pick of 5 other awesome highlights Japan has to offer.

Our Favorite Five Experiences in Japan


Kyoto is not only a buzzing city (1.5 million people and growing) it’s also the cultural center of Japan and a fantastic place to experience the imperial history of the islands. Kyoto actually means ‘capital city’ and it served as one for over a thousand years, leaving it full of shrines, temples, gardens, palaces as well as the ancient Geisha district.

If you happen to be in Kyoto in mid July you’ll have a chance to witness the Gion Matsuri parade – a large procession of traditional floats – some of which can weigh up to 12 tons – that make their way through the centre of the city.

Stay in an Ryokan

The tradition of staying in bath houses is common all over oriental Asia – and Japan is no exception. Most Ryokan are located outside of the sprawling metropolitan areas in the beautiful Japanese countryside, and are often linked to Onsen (natural springs used for bathing). Be aware though – not all the pools are steaming hot – there are also cold plunge pools and even electrified pools if you’re feeling brave enough!

Hit the beach

You’d think that this picture was taken on an isolated, tropical pacific paradise. Well you’d be right! The Yaeyama islands in southern Japan are one of the world’s best kept secrets, a tropical paradise over a thousand miles from Tokyo which boast crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and mangrove forests. The islands are a diver’s dream with manta rays and hammerhead sharks a common sight along with underwater ruins and coral reefs.

Ride the Bullet Train

It’s difficult to bend your mind around the awesomeness of the Bullet Trains. Their top speed is 200mph, the average ‘delay’ is 36 seconds and they’ve carried over 10 billion passengers since they began running in 1964! If the super-fast timings and smooth ride isn’t enough, you can save a bundle by grabbing a Japan rail pass – a 7 day ordinary pass costs the same as one round trip flight ticket between Tokyo and Kyoto.

Matsumoto Castle

The oldest castle remaining in Japan – Matsumoto’s black walls have earned it the nick-name the ‘crow castle’ (step away John Snow). The most beautiful time of year to visit the castle (and Japan in general for that matter) is in spring, when the cherry blossoms are blooming and the castle grounds are transformed into something from a fairy tale.

Japan is hugely diverse with so much to offer travelers. If you’ve been inspired to add it to your travel ‘to do’ list, check out our cheap flights to Tokyo !

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