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Japan is truly a fusion of ancient cultural traditions and modern day life. Imperial palaces, mountainous national parks and thousands of shrines and temples co exist with dense neon-lit cityscapes and bullet trains.
This island nation is home to 127 million people. The Japanese word for Japan literally mean “the origin of the sun,” therefore the English epithet, “The Land of the Rising Sun.” Japan is one of the world’s most literate and technically advanced nations. It is also a nation leading a distinctly urban life style with over 90% of the population living in urban areas.
Tokyo, Japan’s bustling capital mixes the ultramodern and traditional. The opulent Meiji Shinto Shrine is known for its towering gate. The Imperial Palace sits amid large public gardens. Visit the Tokyo National Museum, which offer classical art exhibits. The Edo-Tokyo Museum shows life during the Edo period and features life-size replicas Nihonbashi and the kabuki theater. The old, narrow streets of the Asakusa district contain the 7th-century Sensō-ji Buddhist temple. Tokyo’s Roppongi district has lively nightclubs and karaoke bars, and Akihabara is famous for its many high-tech electronics stores. The Tokyo Skytree tower offers expansive views of the city from its public observation deck or restaurant.
Kyoto is located on the island of Honshu. It’s famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, and Shinto shrines. Along Philosopher’s Walk you will encounter temples like Ginkaku-ji, with its pine-framed pond, and Nanzen-ji, with a renowned Zen garden. Hillside Kyomizu-dera Temple is famed for its huge, log-supported veranda. Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine features a tunnel-like procession of hundreds of bright-orange “torii” gates in the forest. The shogun-era Nijō Castle has elaborate wood-carved interiors, while Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is coated in gold leaf.
Hiroshima was largely destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II. Today, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park commemorates the 1945 event. The park houses the Pease Memorial Museum and the ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the few buildings that was left standing near ground zero. The Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace is more commonly called the Memorial Cenotaph. The names of all those who lost their lives are inscribed in the central stone vault.
Osaka is a port city on the island of Honshu, known for its modern architecture, nightlife and food scene. Neon-lit Dōtonbori is Osaka’s popular dining and entertainment district, where huge signs in the shape of sea creatures hang above eateries serving local specialties like takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes). Osaka Castle, the 16th-century shogunate, Osaka’s main historical landmark. It’s surrounded by a moat and park with plum, peach and cherry-blossom trees. You can admire the city from the top of the Umeda Sky Building, which has glass elevators and an open-air observatory.
|City one-day subway pass
|Bowl of noodles
|Admission to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial
|Happy hour beer
|One-way ticket on Narita Express from Narita Airport to Tokyo
|Japanese Yen (JPY) ¥
Embassy of the United States, Tokyo
1 Chome-10-5 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo 107-8420, Japan
About the Area
Japan is an archipelago that forms an arc in the Pacific Ocean to the east of the Asian continent. The land comprises four large islands named (in decreasing order of size) Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku, together with many smaller islands. Japan is the largest island country in East Asia and fourth largest island country in the world.
Mount Fuji is Japan’s most iconic landmark. At 3776 meters above sea level it is Japan’s highest mountain. The nearly perfectly shaped volcano is singular, sacred, and spectacular. It is considered an active volcano but has been dormant since the its last eruption in 1707.