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24 August 2015

Japan is a destination of wonder. From its sprawling metropolises to rolling rice paddies, and from the colourful street styles of Harajuku to the elegant Geishas in Kyoto, Japan offers guests so many different facets of itself that it is easy to see why so many fall in love with it.

Most heading to Japan will start their journey in Tokyo, an iconic city known around the globe for its neon lights, eclectic street styles and outstanding restaurants. Whilst it’s easy to get swept up in all its modern trappings, do take the time to explore some of the older cultural areas, maybe taking in a Kabuki show or traditional sumo match. You should also try and get down to Harujuku, home to not only a beautiful Shintō shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken, but also the latest street fashion trends and of course, a trendy shopping area. We also recommend the Ghibli Museum, designed by renowned animator Miyazaki Hayao, who founded Studio Ghibli, creator off classics such as Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke.

From Tokyo we recommend getting the bullet train to Kyoto, which, whilst still futuristic in places, offers far more in the way of traditional Japanese culture. Here you still stand a chance of spotting a geisha in the streets, you can enjoy a relax soak in public baths and wander down traditional shopping streets selling teas, tofu and plenty of beautiful souvenirs. This is also one of the best places to do some shrine visits, with over 1000 found in and around the city. Here you’ll find the resplendent Golden Pavilion and Fushimi-Inari-Taisha. There are also plenty of temples and gardens to visit and enjoy.

Whilst its name is synonymous with tragedy, modern-day Hiroshima is an open, relaxed city, with plenty going on. Whilst there are many reminders of the tragedy, and a museum that’ll bring most people to tears, it’s amazing to step back out into the city and see just what it has become. There are of course plenty of monuments and parks in which you can reflect on what befell the city, but equally there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the city in which to while away the hours.

A similar experience can be had at Nagasaki. Set around the bay, this beautiful city is blessed with plenty of shrines, temples and parks. There are museums, monuments and memorials, and they add a slight sombreness to an otherwise bright and charming city. The food here is especially good, so make sure you visit a few of the local restaurants. Asking your hotel or guests house host is a sure-fire way to find out which ones the locals prefer.

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