Japan is truly a land of extraordinary contrasts. An archipelago made up of 6,852 islands, its cities are densely populated but its areas of mountains, forests and national parks are vast. An ancient culture of emperors, samurai warriors and brutal martial arts - the legacy of 700 years of feudal shogunate rule - it’s also a place of gentle geishas, colourful kimonos, quiet tea ceremonies, exquisite garden design and Zen Buddhism. Wooden temples and shrines and the ancient arts of origami and calligraphy seem somehow to sit quite easily alongside the country’s dominance of world industries from cars and video games to electronics and robotics.
It’s this enigmatic mix that will make your tour of Japan so endlessly fascinating, and so incredibly rewarding. Tokyo is a microcosm of this enchanting mix. Gleaming skyscrapers and luxury shops tempting you with the latest outrageous fashions are just minutes away from a Shinto shrine. Dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, it’s set in a parkland where traditional Japanese marriages still take place. Kyoto too is a wonderful treasure trove with its Golden Pavilion,
Temple of the Dragon at Peace, bamboo forest and Nijo Castle. Mount Fuju is yet another unmissable sight on your tour of Japan, surrounded as it is by thick forests and spectacular lakes. There are visits to dramatic waterfalls and volcanic valleys. There’s the poignant Hiroshima Peace Park and museum. You’ll travel everywhere in style – including a ride on an aerial gondola, a Japanese pirate ship, and a gleaming bullet train. You can take a lesson in origami, flower arranging or Japanese cooking, dress as a geisha, sleep on a tatami futon, or bathe in a hot spring. There are so many possibilities on your tour of Japan – the land of the rising sun.
Barrie and Deirdre Taylor
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