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Exploring Japan

WHEN TO VISIT

In general, Japan has a mild climate, but as an archipelago stretching over 3,000 km from north to south, the weather, like the fauna and flora, can vary a lot from region to region.

Below we summarise the general tendency of the weather by season in Honshu, Japan’s main island.

 

SPRING

Cherry blossoms usually start to bloom in certain regions of Honshu at the end of March and by April they are at their fullest of beauty. For this reason, we believe that April is the most beautiful time of the year to visit Japan. Sakura (Cherry blossom season) is also an important time of year for the Japanese who, during this period celebrate hanami (cherry blossom viewing) by barbecuing or picnicking in the parks underneath the blossoming cherry trees. The life of the cherry flowers is very short with the full bloom period lasting only two weeks, after which the blossoms start to fall. As this exquisite event attracts tourists from all over the world and hotels get booked up early!

 

SUMMER

Japan’s rainy season starts at the beginning of June. While it does not rain every day, the weather tends to be overcast, and July and August are hot and humid. But, despite the higher temperatures and humidity, Japan has a lot to offer during the summer months such as the numerous summer festivals taking place throughout the country. Japan’s ancient traditions are still highly respected today, and during these festivals you can experience these fascinating traditions come to life through parades, dance, culinary delights, and local ceremonies. Another benefit of travelling in summer is that sightseeing spots are less crowded and hotel tariffs are significantly more economical.

 

AUTUMN

One of the best seasons to visit Japan is in autumn as the weather remains warm and relatively dry, and the crowds are still not at their peak. Trees begin to turn golden, which is a spectacular sight to see in many parts of the country.

 

WINTER

Winter is a good time to visit Japan if you don’t mind cooler temperatures. The weather is usually sunny and dry, although cool, and sightseeing spots are not crowded except for over New Years.

There is lots of snowfall in the mountainous regions, perfect for visiting the famous and photogenic “snow monkeys” and the therapeutical hot waters of Japan’s hot springs (onsens) are particularly enjoyable in winter. Winter is also the ideal time for winter sports lovers to visit with the skiing season featuring deep, light powdery snow, starting in mid-December and lasting until mid-April.

Tokyo
In the medieval times Tokyo was known as Edo, a small castle town which became Japan´s political center and a few centuries later, Edo grew into one of the world´s most populous cities . Nowadays, Tokyo is one of the world’s most cutting-edge capitals, offering a huge offer of entertainment, dinning, shopping, and culture to visitors.

Tokyo is city of contrasts where you can find the most modern technology, neon-lit landscape and towering skyscrapers but also excellent museums, sprawling parklands, sacred and ancient shrines and temples, and lovingly tended traditional gardens and green spaces in the middle of the city center.

Despite its mania for anime pop culture, fashion, digital trends and discernable consumption, the city embraces an ancient heritage evident in the temples and shrines scattered amongst the vast skyrise.

Almost all travelers to Japan will go through Tokyo and it is definitely worth spending a few nights in this fascinating city. Whilst it is not easy to find boutique hotels in Tokyo, we have put an extra effort into finding the best places to stay for all budgets and tastes.
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Kyoto
Kyoto was for more than thousand years the imperial capital of Japan and nowadays is known as the cultural city of the country. With 2,000 religious buildings, including 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens etc it is one of the best-preserved cities in Japan and has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Go back in time to Japan’s mysterious past where echoes of the court nobility resonate at the Imperial Palace and the search for contemplation in the zen gardens, explore the city’s narrow alleyways where tea houses thrive and kimono-clad geisha hurry from elegant function to function.
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Hiroshima
Hiroshima is notorious for its destruction when the first Atomic Bomb was dropped over the city during the Second World War which obliterated nearly everything within a two kilometre radius. From this absolute annihilation, Hiroshima emerged, phoenix-like, and become a beacon of hope and peace for the rest of mankind.

Many destroyed monuments of the city’s historical heritage had been reconstructed, such as the Shukkeien Garden and the Hiroshima Castle. The city centre boasts a large recreational area named Peace Memorial Park, reflecting the aspirations of this reborn city. Besides excellent museums, Hiroshima is also the most popular gateway for trips to nearby Miyajima, a nearby island considered to be one of Japan’s most scenic spots.
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Kanazawa
Kanazawa was an important city during the Edo period and became a town with a great cultural scene rivalling with Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). Nowadays, the samurai and chaya entertainment districts, have survived in good condition and you can walk in these streets and imagine how life was in the ancient Japan.

The city boasts many historical attractions such as restored residences and districts, as well as modern museums and its great castle. But Kanazawa´s unchallenged main attraction is Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s “three best landscape gardens”, and often considered the most beautiful of them all.
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Takayama
Full of temples, shrines, festivals, rivers and bridges, this beautiful mountain town Takayama has been called “little Kyoto” and has preserved the ancient atmosphere of the Edo era until now. This area is well known not just for its natural environment and preserved culture but also for its delicious food and sake breweries. Local dishes including Hida beef and Hoba miso are highly recommended. More
Hakone
Hakone is a lovely mountainous town less than hundred miles south of Tokyo on the foothills of Mt Fuji. Traditional inns aka Ryokans and pleasantly relaxing hot springs “Onsen” are the staple attraction in Hakone, with Mt Fuji being its crown jewel. Beautiful Hakone is a natural nature wonderland, part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, and has about everything a vacationer could wish for. A great destination for hiking, with marvellous views at every turn and plenty of hot springs to soothe any aching muscles after a days of exploring. Besides the towering mountains, lakes and views of Mount Fuji, it is also blessed with interesting historical sites, temples and Shinto Shrines. More
Osaka
Osaka is the historical commercial capital of Japan and Japan’s second largest metropolis which has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai region for centuries.

Nowadays Osaka, is one of Japan’s most vibrant cities, known for its lively people, large aquarium, underground shopping arcade, Universal Studios amusement park… and specially famous for its local spectacular cuisine. Its nickname “Tenka no Daidokoro” (the nation’s kitchen) inspired us to create some foodie tours for you to experience the real taste of Osaka.
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Shirakawa-go
This picturesque village, famous for its traditional Gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Gassho-zukkuri translates as ‘Praying Hands’, as the farmhouses steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer and are designed to withstand the heavy snows which fall in the region.
Miyajima
Miyajima Island. A small sacred island located in the Island Sea, it has been a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times.

Here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan: The Floating Torii Gate. Designated as one of Japan’s ‘Most Beautiful Views’, the shrine it belongs to dates back to the 6th century. The harmoniously arranged buildings reveal great artistic and technical skill, and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Nikko
Nikko had been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries before Toshogu was built in the 1600s, and Nikko National Park continues to offer scenic, mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails.

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Kamakura
Kamakura is a beautiful historical town located one hour away from Tokyo by public transport. Home to a collection of beautiful temples, shrines and impressive large buddhist statues.

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Kawagoe
Kawagoe is a delightful city west of Tokyo, usually called “Little Edo” because it still preserves the atmosphere of the ancient Tokyo (Edo is the old name of the capital).
The old storehouse merchant houses are lined up, and the Toki-no-kane (Bell Tower)
rings to tell the time. Take a stroll through the town in a kimono and
you'll feel as if you've travelled back in time to ancient Edo. In Kawagoe, you can
experience the traditional and pure Japan which you can't see in Tokyo.
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Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s most iconic images, instantly recognisable for its snowcapped symmetric beauty. Still an active volcano to this day, at 3766 meters it is the country’s highest mountain. More

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