Like a beautiful Manga comic, Japan will delight you with its artistic originality and effortless elegance. Rich landscapes set the scene, from flashing neon neighbourhoods to snow-capped volcanoes, cherry blossoms to tropical Pacific beaches. Intertwining narratives will lead you in a surreal direction, as ancient tradition meets the ultra modern. Nothing is copied here, almost every street is an attraction, each hotel a different impression of luxury hospitality. Japan is vibrant, original, exotic and unforgettable. And unlike some destinations in Asia, it also has a world-beating infrastructure that makes travel really easy.
Getting here and around
There are direct flights to Tokyo and Osaka from various European airports, including both Vienna and Munich. The far-flung destinations are easiest to connect by flight, but for everything in the middle go by train. The Shinkansen bullet trains are very fast, comfortable and reliable. Plus they’re an authentic part of the travel experience.
Climate & seasons
Spring and autumn are the preferred times to travel, because the weather is most comfortable and the landscapes transform dramatically. In March to May it’s cherry blossom, whereas September to November offers a kaleidoscope of autumnal colours. Summer is hot and humid, great for visiting the mountains but potentially uncomfortable in big cities. Winter is cold and damp, so unless you’re going skiing it’s a season best avoided.
Where to go
Tokyo’s contradictions can entertain you for weeks, with something for everyone and something at every turn. Kyoto is the country’s cultural heartbeat, a city of old beauty surrounded by dozens of smaller yet intriguing destinations (it has 17 World Heritage Sites!). Go south for a beach holiday in subtropical Okinawa, north for ice sculptures and skiing in Hokkaido, into the mountains for hot springs and whisky, then onto the history trail for Samurai. There are literally hundreds of outstanding destinations, both natural and cultural. And thanks to the great transport, it’s easy to do an ambitious holiday to see many different sides of Japan.
What to do
Explore. Like the gastronomy that’s so different in every region, from sushi to Kaiseki and Kobe beef. The places to stay, from traditional ryokans to city spa hotels, all of them so clean and beautifully minimal. The authenticity, whether you’re experiencing Zen Buddhism, Geisha, origami, Shinto, ramen, Ninja, anime or sumo. In Japan you can have a new experience every hour but don’t forget to leave time for the onsens. Japan was one of the first places to embrace spa culture and the serene onsens (a spa area with natural hot springs) are fantastic.