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2016 / 2017 Latitudes

 

 

Japan

Japan, known as the Land of the Rising Sun, is a country of contrast that lures visitors with poetic natural beauty as well as bustling, cosmopolitan cities. The Japanese deeply revere their cultural traditions, well preserved due to the country's isolation, and can appear quite conservative. Yet they also display a flair for trendy innovations, with Tokyo's young people often defining "hip" for legions of international followers of haute cuisine, fashion and electronics. Harmonious and nearly seamless, it is the juxtaposition of the two faces of Japan that visitors find captivating.

No two cities typify Japan's hallmark disparity between modern and traditional like Tokyo and Kyoto. From its humble roots as the former fishing village of Edo, Tokyo has grown to be one of the wealthiest, fastest-paced and most crowded cities in the world. Visitors flock to see the early morning Tsukiji Market; the neon-flooded Ginza District; the kabuki plays offered by the National Theater; and the Sogetsu Kaikan, the famous school where visitors can learn the art of ikebana.

Kyoto was the seat of the Imperial throne for more than 1,000 years and remains the cultural heart of the country. Lovely temples, gardens, and shrines populate the hills around the city that splashes with pink cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant red maples in autumn. As you wander the stone streets of the Gion District, famous for high-quality tea houses, you may still catch glimpses of geishas at dusk.

Beyond the cities, Mt. Fuji, Himeji, Hiroshima, and Miyajima Island all command a visitor's attention.

Though their efficient rail system makes travel relatively easy, even seasoned travelers will benefit from the entrée access and insider knowledge of Frontiers' professionals, gained through several trips to the island country. Our Japan specialist, Sarah Guest, lived there for two years and has traveled extensively in Honshu, Hokkaido, and Shikoku. She is fluent in Japanese, which is useful for making reservations in historic, off-the-beaten-path inns and hot springs resorts.”