5 Reasons to Explore Japan in 2024

Let's look at 5 reasons why Japan should be on your travel wish list for 2024

With Japan’s ever increasing connection with the western world, you’d be forgiven for wondering what is left to explore in the country itself but thankfully you’d be met with such a wonderful surprise. Japan has managed to retain it’s unique culture and tradition as it’s popularity has grown on the global scale, which makes a visit to the Land of the Rising Sun one of the most memorable journeys a traveller can make.

Join me as we take a look at just some of the many highlights of the wonderfully diverse country of Japan. From huge metropolises to incredible scenery, Japan is a country that has something to offer for everyone.

Tokyo

Where else to start on our journey around Japan than it’s enormous, bustling capital city of Tokyo. Home to a population of 38 million and covering an area almost the size of Wales, the Greater Tokyo Area is the biggest city in the world.

Tokyo really is the city that never sleeps, and this can be demonstrated by taking a walk around the central areas in the evening where you will experience a seemingly endless cacophony of lights and sounds.

Just a few of the highlights are the magnificent Sensō-ji Buddhist temple, the 634m tall Tokyo Skytree and observation deck, the beautiful cherry blossom lined paths of the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, the Shinto shrine at Maiji Jingu and so much more.

Hiroshima

Something I believe we have a responsibility do to as travellers is to understand and respect historic events which have shaped the countries we visit, no matter how horrific those events may have been.

Of course Hiroshima is best known for the atomic bomb that was detonated by the United States on 6th August 1945, which caused devastating damage to the city and it’s people.

Through their unwavering resilience, the surviving population worked incredibly hard to rebuild their city, delicately preserving the damaged Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall and creating the poignant Peace Memorial Park to remember those 140,000 people who lost their lives.

Both of these sites are very much deserving of your time and serve as a stark reminder of the tragic reality of war. Hiroshima also has a collection of fantastic museums and the iconic Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate, making it an excellent stop if you are travelling Japan.

Kyoto

Often referred to as Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto is home to numerous Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces and gardens, making it the perfect place to learn about Japan’s heritage.

Two of Kyoto’s most famous and impressive temples are Kinkaku-ji and Higashi Hongan-ji, both of which are still actively used for worship by monks. These huge, ornate buildings offer an incredible glimpse into Japan’s past and it’s deep-rooted Buddhist beliefs.

Another way to step back into the past is to explore the Gion district, in which you’ll find wooden houses flanking narrow lanes with paved stone pathways and the gentle glow of paper lanterns lighting the way. This is one of the most picturesque and well preserved areas in all of Japan, and the experience becomes all the more immersive when you spot a geisha rushing between appointments at the teahouses.

There are also many beautiful parks and gardens to explore like the torii gates at Fushimi Inari, the cherry tree lined Philosophers Path, the ancient gardens of the Nanzen-ji Temple and the gorgeous bamboo grove at Kodai-ji.

Cuisine

Probably one of Japan’s biggest cultural exports to the West is it’s brilliantly unique cuisine. It seems like every British high street has a sushi or noodle bar nowadays, and that must act as testament to how special the flavours are.

Of course the most popular Japanese dish is sushi, and whether you’re in a modern restaurant in central Tokyo or a simple stall in Hokkaido, you’re guaranteed to get incredible fresh sushi. Among many options, the most popular are nigiri which is a thin slice of raw fish delicately placed upon a cluster of rice, and sashimi which is the exquisite fish without any additional ingredients.

A fascinating feature of the Japanese culinary landscape is the Yatai, a small shack which serves fresh, delicious food at a very reasonable price. The most famous example can be found in Obihiro City on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, which is home to Kita no Yatai – a collection of shacks where you can eat with friends or be joined by total strangers in order to share stories whilst enjoying some lovely food.

One of the best places to enjoy the delightful variety of Japanese cuisine is Osaka, the so called capital of food. The streets of this city are lined with independent street food vendors so you can sample anything from takoyaki (octopus in batter), to yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), to okonomiyaki (pancake with meat and vegetables) and everything inbetween.

Mt. Fuji

Magnificent, inspiring and powerful are all words that do a very good job in describing Mt Fuji but none of them come close to explaining the significance that this mountain has on the people of Japan. It’s iconic shape is used throughout Japan to provide strength and comfort to the Japanese, many of them having seen it before learning to even talk.

Mt Fuji carries great religious and spiritual meaning to the Japanese people as they revere it’s ambiguous power to both destroy and create, whilst retaining a simple beauty. It’s seen by many as the beating heart and soul of Japan, which gives reassurance to all who are connected to it.

Each year 300,000 mountaineers ascend the mountain and it’s commonly described as more than just a climb, it more closely resembles a spiritual experience as the weight of the mountain’s art, philosophy and history climb the path alongside you.

Some of the best places to quietly sit and reflect in Mt Fuji’s beauty are the quaint fishing village of Oshino Hakkai, Fujimi Terrace at Izunokuni Panorama Park and the shores of Lake Tanuki where you can experience the Diamond Fuji – where the sun rises directly above the mountain’s peak to reveal the most incredible sight.

Conclusion

Hopefully this has given you some insight into the diverse beauty of Japan and its culture. If you’d love to visit this country and want to start looking into a trip, I can certainly help, whether its a short stop on your way somewhere else or a longer tour of the many delightful destinations within Japan.

Some of the hotel experiences I’d recommend you try if you make the trip to the Land of the Rising Sun are the spectacular opulence within the Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo, the futuristic yet authentic Villa Santo Muromachi in Kyoto and the timeless elegance of InterContinental Hotel Osaka.

I’ve got a whole list of  recommendations that I’d love to share, so if you’re thinking of heading to Japan or you’re ready to get started, click the button below and complete the enquiry form then we’ll be in touch shortly!

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