Japan – Travel guide and latest news

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PHOTO: Mount Fuji with cherry blossoms (Photo via Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

It’s hard to find another country with such a unique culture as Japan. Japanese art, literature, food, architecture and even Buddhism are as distinct from the rest of the world as a fully armored samurai is from one of King Arthur’s knights. It seems that all travel in Japan is time travel; the trouble is that a traveler has to split in two because half will wander into an elegant past, while the other half is racing towards the future.

Traditionally, first-time travelers to Japan combine Tokyo and Kyoto with a stopover at Mount Fuji, but more and more countries are opening up their smaller, nuanced destinations. At night, Tokyo’s Ginza district, completely filled with neon lights, looks like a walk into the future. A more traditional Japan is found in Ueno-Onshi Park, where the Tokyo National Museum, dedicated to thousands of years of Japanese art, is surrounded by several shrines, temples, museums, a five-storied pagoda, a hall symphony and more. A new wave of young American travelers, raised on Japanese animation, seek out anime sites such as the Ghibli Museum, created by Hayao Miyazaki who directed anime classics such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. With one of the most user-friendly subway systems in the world, Tokyo is an easy city to explore, from Tsukiji Market to the Imperial Palace.

Even Vivaldi couldn’t celebrate the four seasons as well as Kyoto. Kyoto is the 1,300-year-old capital of Japan, where the beauty of the country’s feudal period is on full display. But no need to go to Kyoto to find this feudal spirit. A short train ride from downtown Tokyo, Kawagoe feels like centuries away. A quiet country town, Kawagoe rose to prominence when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, perhaps the most imposing figure in Japanese history, made it his northern military bulwark and gateway to his new national capital of Japan. Edo, which we now call Tokyo. The Kitain Temple of Kawagoe, originally built in 830, was rebuilt in 1638 after a fire. It is also home to Kawagoe Castle, built in 1457 around the same time as the construction of Edo Castle in Tokyo. Other wonders of Japan include the Inland Sea, Hokkaido, and the city of Hiroshima, to name a few.

Japanese cuisine became popular with the sushi craze in the 1980s and it continues to be popular today along with other types of Japanese cuisine. In Tokyo, be sure to grab an early morning sushi meal at Tsukiji Market. Tokyo and Osaka are both important gateways to Japan and the rest of Asia.

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