As one of the last countries in the world to open up to tourism after the pandemic, Japan is making up for it now with great deals.
I’ve never spoken to anyone who has visited Japan who has not raved about it and begun planning their next trip, but for first-timers what are some of the best attractions to visit?
Cherry blossom festival
Of course, this is top of the list.
Unfortunately, you have missed it for this year, but start planning now for next year.
The good news is while the season is brief, the viewing options are vast, with more than 1000 locations across the country.
Some more popular options include Himeji Castle in the Hyogo Prefecture, Kintai Bridge in the Yamaguchi Prefecture and Kema Sakuranomiya Park in the Chiba Prefecture.
You can get started on your research here.
Double your Japanese experience and see Mount Fuji in cherry blossom season.
Your best spot is Shizuoka or Yamanashi for the perfect shot to post to Facebook.
Other good ways to see Japan’s highest mountain are on a train trip between Tokyo and Osaka, the Fuji Five Lake region or Hakone Park. It’s open for climbing during July and August.
Be aware, those lovely shots of Mt Fuji against a startling blue sky are actually pretty rare as it’s often shrouded in clouds. Recommended times to visit for the best views are during winter and early morning and late evening.
As well as being Japan’s tallest mountain, Mt Fuji is also a volcano. It’s described as ‘active’ but never fear, it hasn’t erupted since 1707. I’ve seen more active planks of wood.
Enjoy an onsen
Onsen are hot springs and the bathing and traditional inns around them.
The problem will be choosing as there are an estimated 25,000 hot springs in Japan with about 3000 onsen.
They can be indoors or outdoors and there are some strict etiquette rules you should probably note before your splash down. As a foreigner, expect to be stared at and, fair warning, you are also expected to be nude. That’s it, I’m out.
A hot spot of hot springs and onsen is Beppu, which has almost 3000 hot spring vents.
Japan is a country of famous modernity but Kyoto embraces its rich history.
It has one of the largest collections of UNESCO World Heritage sites on the planet including 12 Buddhist temples, three Shinto shrines and one castle. In fact, there are more than 1600 Buddhist temples alone.
There is also geisha and maiko culture, excellent food, traditional inns and sublime gardens. And not just any gardens, there are Zen gardens. I feel relaxed already.
If you want to mix up traditional with modern, Osaka is your destination.
Good food, good bars, museums, international music and shopping combined with centuries-old festivals and buildings that were erected back when Henry VIII was on the throne.
It also has excellent public transport and, as a transport hub, travel to other centres is a breeze.
If you want to experience Japanese culture but don’t want to be overwhelmed by Tokyo’s vast size, Osaka might be for you.
If you are very keen to see extremely large men wrestle each other, then you need to get planning as there are only six official sumo events each year, although the tournaments can last for 15 days.
You may be more lucky if you just want to see sumo and aren’t too fussy about the standard as there are several exhibitions and you can also visit a sumo beya where the wrestlers train and live.
Have you visited Japan? What would be on your bucket list? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?