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Travel Guide: Japan Highlights

29th Jun 2016 1:54am | By Editor

The best way to see Japan's secretive Mount Fuji is to climb it

Talkin' Tokyo

Live life in the ultimate fast lane, cruising Electric Town and Ginza’s designer stores before hitting the sake in Roppongi and, inevitably, the karaoke stage. Take time out to explore Yoyogi Park where you can gawp at the Harajuku girls before getting spiritual at Meiji Shrine.

Meiji Shrine

Open: every day, sunrise to sunset

Tickets: Free

 

Ancient Kyoto

Step back in time to the former imperial capital of Japan, where geishas roam the streets of the Gion district and more than 2000 temples and shrines dot the landscape.

 

Hit the slopes

In winter, Japan gets the kind of snow that will make any powder-hound drool. There are 600 ski resorts, most near Tokyo in the Japan Alps but some of the best on the northernmost island of Hokkaido. And what better après-ski that a soak in a hot spring?

 

Hike Mt Fuji

Japan’s highest mountain is notoriously secretive, hiding behind a haze of cloud for most of the year. The best way catch a glimpse of its perfect, snow-capped cone is to climb it - the trekking season runs from July-August.

 

Tropical beaches

Few of us associate Japan with beach holidays which makes its long stretches of fine, white sand all the more idyllic. Head to the southern islands of Okinawa where you’ll find the coral reefs of Ishigaki and the jungle-covered Iriomote.

 

Karaoke bars

Even if singing in public is your personal nemesis, you can’t go to Japan and not croon into the mic at least once. A couple of tips: sake helps but rapping is never a good idea.

 

Sumo wrestling

Time your visit with a sumo tournament for a chance to see the Shinto rituals and surprising athleticism of this 2000-year old sport. The action takes place in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.

 

Onsen a lifetime

There are 3000 onsen or hot springs across Japan, some amid the urban sprawl of Tokyo and others hidden away in the Japan Alps. You have to bathe completely starkers but once you get used to this it’s a surefire way to relax and unwind.

 

Cherry blossoms

Cameras at the ready – there’s nothing quite as photogenic as Japan in the springtime. Cherry-blossom viewing parties (known as hanami) are held to celebrate the season with some people camping overnight to secure the best spot.