Friday, 24 February 2017

Highlights Of Japan For A First Time Visitor

I must admit, of all the places that I have been in the world and of all the places I want to go Japan intrigues me the most. The mix of ancient traditions and cutting-edge modern living means it's a place that constantly surprises, and is therefore totally unique. 

When planning a trip to Japan for the first time visitor the real challenge is knowing where to start. You will never see everything you want to in that first trip but I like the idea of getting a little taster of many things that Japan has to offer. If you love the country I am sure you will be back to explore deeper!


A temple in Kyoto

As the written language and speech is so different to English, you also have to ask yourself if you don't speak Japanese, will it be simpler and easier to go for an organised itinerary with a guide, or will you take on the challenge of organising and planning it all yourself? However, with a completed organised tour often you don't have the flexibility. 

With the highlights of Japan tour below you can have the best of both worlds. A private guide to provide a personalised service on your first day in Tokyo as well as a private guide on your first day in Kyoto and then detailed documentation to assist you with the rest of your travels, including transfers and transportation and all accommodation. So you have the benefit of knowledgeable guides but the freedom to do what you want the rest of the time, within the constraints of an organised trip.

Tokyo

Tokyo

The tour starts with a couple of days in Tokyo to see it in all its neon glory. Orientate yourself to the most populated inner city area in the world with your personal tour guide. Visit the world's largest freestanding tower, the Skytree broadcasting hub whilst stopping for a bowl of ramen iAkihabara’s neon maze. For dinner eat at one of the many Michelin star restaurants for which Japan is known.

A tasty bowl of ramen

The next day, take a trip on a cable car up Mt. Takao to see Tokyo from above. Another idea is to visit the sleepy coastal town of Kamakura - the once 12th-century capital of Japan, and see the giant buddha for which Kamakura is famous. This prominent resort town is home to dozens of Buddhist Zen temples and Shinto shrines.



The giant buddha in Kamakura

Hakone

Mount Fuji

After Tokyo take a short train ride to Hakone, a mountainous town west of Tokyo to indulge in its hot spring resorts or onsens. Take in views of Mount Fuji, an active volcano and Japan's highest peak.



A Japanese onsen 

In Hakone stay in a traditional ryokan inn featuring tatami mats rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear yukata, a casual Japanese kimono. 

Kyoto


A Japanese bullet train

Next stop Kyoto, on the bullet train! The high-speed bullet train races surprisingly quietly through Japan at speeds of up to 320 KM per hour and is known for its punctuality.


Bamboo groves

In Kyoto, the cultural heartland of Japan, visit one of the 1600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines and no less than 17 UNESCO world heritage listed sites.  Your personal tour guide can show you this beautiful city. Visit a tea house or stroll through the bamboo groves. Immerse yourself in the traditional culture for which Japan is known for and adored.

Nara

 The Todaiji temple

Only a 40-minute train journey from Kyoto is Nara, a compact city which is easy to see in a day. Nara, the capital city of Nara Prefecture, is known for some of Japan's oldest temples and monasteries. Take a rickshaw ride to Todaiji temple - the largest wooden building in the world which houses a giant buddha.


The deer that roam free in Nara park


Finally, visit Nara Park, one of the oldest parks in Japan, at the foot of Mount Wakaku to take in the natural beauty and see the hundreds of deer that roam free. According to local folklore these deers were considered sacred until WW2 and now they are designated 'national treasures' and are protected as such. 

This whistlestop tour of Japan can be done in little over 10 days and is an introduction to Japan, perfect for the first time visitor. I am hoping to go to Japan next year and can't wait to see and explore this beautiful melting pot of culture, tradition and modernity. It's a country that will give me the most amazing memories and one which I think I will never forget.




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Tell me would you like to go to Japan? Which country in the world intrigues you?

*Collaborative post. Onsen photo courtesy of Japanexperterna Flickr CC
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35 comments

  1. Wow, awesome post! I would LOVE to visit Japan and it is on my bucket list! What a great travel review, stunning photos and great suggestions x

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    1. Thanks Donna, It's such a beautiful and different country for us in the UK.

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  2. What an amazing post, it makes me want to go to Japan and explore it. Mount Fuji looks simply breathtaking, thank you for sharing your experience and the beautiful photos.

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  3. My husband really wants to go to Japan, as do I of course, -and we were hoping to this year but we have a newborn. Your post has made me want to go even more.

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  4. I know so many people who have been to Japan and loved it - it's definitely on my bucket list x

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  5. You've highlighted so many different places to see and things to do in Japan, it's really made me interested in seeing Japan someday. Mount Fuji is breathtaking and the bamboo groves are just gorgeous x

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  6. Japan is awesome and ten days is far from enough to see the country, not even enough to see Tokyo. Once you've been there you want to return again and again. After my first visit 4,5 years ago I have returned four more times. Now I have been a total of 14 weeks in the country and have only scratched the surface I feel

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    1. Yes, 7 days doesn't do it justice, it's just a taster and I am sure everyone who goes for such a short time will want to go back and explore more.

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  7. I love how Japan has the mix of cultural heritage, scenery and ultra modern. Good idea to have a guide, I bet you'd get so much more out of your trip

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  8. I'd love to visit. Love asian countries - look so beautiful to me x

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  9. oh wow that looks amazing and is on my bucket list!

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  10. What a perfect balance of modern life and traditional culture. Looks so pretty and peaceful

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    1. It has a fantastic mix of modern and traditional culture.

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  11. I would LOVE to visit Japan! The place looks stunning!

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  12. I love this post! Japan is definitely somewhere I would be soooo happy to visit. Thank you for sharing!

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  13. I would love to visit Japan one day. Heard a lot of good things about the country. Love the look of that bullet train.

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    1. The bullet train is definitely the way to travel across the country.

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  14. OMG that bamboo grove looks amazing I would love to see that. I haven't visited Japan yet.

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  15. The photos of Japan are absolutely stunning. The bamboo grove took my breath away! Thank-you so much for sharing them with us

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed this post Alison.

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  16. Japan is one of those places that I really want to visit, taste a proper Ramen and see the culture at first hand x

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  17. wow what stunning photos definitely a beautiful place to explore!! I'd absolutely love to visit and I imagine Tokyo being a real vibe!!

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  18. It looks like an incredible place to visit and it somewhere i've always wanted to go but haven't managed it yet x

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  19. Amazing photos and great tips. I didn't really have any interest into visiting Japan up until last year and now I would love to visit! xo

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    1. It is such a different vibe and culture to the UK, every time I read about Japan I want to go more.

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  20. Amazing photos. I've heard about bullet trains but never seen one like that before - wow!

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  21. I have to be honest and say it isn't at the top of my travel list. My sister-in-law lived there and couldn't wait to get home.

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    1. I can imagine it can be a culture shock if you live there. Why didn't she like it?

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  22. You almost visit the must-see places around Japan! I love the bamboo trees shot and the deer at the Nara Park! Looks like a cool experience!

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  23. You've seen some amazing things in Japan. I wish to visit it one day too.

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  24. Fab post - Japan is very high on my travel wishlist, Mark and I plan to visit when the boys have grown up!

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  25. I have always wanted to go to Japan. I bought a phrase book years ago and I tried to learn a few phrases.

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