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Travel to Japan

Japan: Where Ancient and Modern Blend Perfectly

 Steve McKenna head shot
by Steve McKenna

May 24, 2017

Whatever time of year you go, Japan is one of the world's most compelling travel destinations, a heady fusion of ancient traditions and futuristic flair, laced with stunning natural beauty. A great way to experience the utterly unique Land of the Rising Sun is on Collette's new 13-day Cultural Treasures of Japan tour. Here are just some of the treats to expect if you travel Japan with Collette.

Tokyo’s Diversity

Home to 38 million people, Japan's sprawling capital is the planet's most populated megalopolis, but handily for tourists it's made up of a patchwork of distinct districts, each with their own character and charms. In Ginza, an area festooned with glossy modern skyscrapers and dazzling neon lights, you'll rub shoulders with fashionable Tokyoites who flock here to shop, fine-dine and be entertained. You'll find more spiritual vibes in the Asakusa neighbourhood, especially in and around its famous Senso-ji, a Buddhist temple believed to be the oldest of the city's numerous places of worship.

Culinary Delights

One of the best ways to absorb Japanese culture is through its food and drink. Whether it's enjoying a sushi lunch at Tsukiji (Tokyo's atmospheric fish market), a tea ceremony following a trip to the Imperial Palace, or a sit-down at a classic noodle shop, this tour covers all bases. Yet as well as the included meals (23 in total), you'll have ample opportunity to sample delectable dishes of your own choosing. You might fancy heading to a teppanyaki restaurant, where a chef will grill melt-in-the-mouth Kobe beef in front of you, or perhaps you'd prefer an okonomiyaki (savoury pancake-pizza) and sake (rice wine) at a local izakaya (tavern).

Jaw-Dropping Scenery

Fringing the so-called 'Ring of Fire' in the Pacific Ocean, Japan has been shaped, more than most, by Mother Nature. The landscapes of its 6,852 islands are pockmarked with volcanoes, notably the cone-shaped, snow-capped Mount Fuji. You'll get an incredible panoramic view of arguably Japan's most iconic landmark from the Kachi Kachi Ropeway, a lift that rises 1075m above Lake Kawaguchi. At another scenic waterfront location, the mountainous resort of Hakone, you will take a cruise on Lake Ashi before indulging in a popular Japanese past-time: bathing in onsen (hot springs). Your tour itinerary also includes a stay in Takayama, a rustic town nestled in the beautiful Japanese Alps.

Kyoto

Many travellers' favourite Japanese city, Kyoto is the country's cultural capital - a UNESCO World Heritage jewel framed by lush green hills and studded with glittering temples and wooden machiya houses. Also here is one of Japan's most historic castles, Nijo, which the shoguns (military leaders) of the Tokugawa clan built in the early 17th century. A stroll around Nijo's gardens, past ponds and cherry trees, is a highlight of a castle visit. Traditions run deep in Kyoto and you'll be invited to take a lesson in the ancient art of stencilling, before attending an evening dinner and geisha show (Kyoto is regarded as the birthplace of geisha culture).

Bullet Trains

Renowned for its blurring speed, punctuality and efficiency, Japan's rail network is the envy of the world. Taking a (temporary) break from the motorcoach, you'll board the Shinkansen - a 'bullet train' that hits speeds of up to 320km/h. It'll spirit you between Kyoto and Hiroshima, a city dramatically restored after being destroyed by an atomic bomb at the end of World War II. You'll hear fascinating stories about Hiroshima's tragic past and inspiring recovery at the Peace Memorial Museum, a moving and unforgettable visitor attraction at a pretty riverside setting near the bomb site.

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