We have quite a few staff at Explore who have travelled to, and fallen in love with Japan. You can see why it is easy to fall for its charms. Here is what they all consider to be their top highlights - all of which you can experience on our Shogun Trail adventure holiday in Japan.
From the bustling, neon-lit streets to the secluded Shinto shrines and traditional gardens, Tokyo is an extreme contrast of the old and the modern. There is time at the start of the tour to experience some of the many highlights of this fascinating city. First on the checklist has to be the famous fish market in Tsukiji, keep your wits about you in this energetic place as small trucks race around the dimly lit marketplace delivering fresh orders of seafood before giant Tuna fish are auctioned at 5 o’clock in the morning.
Other options include a visit to Harajuku, the fashion capital of Japan with luxury designer stores and small independent boutiques crammed into this popular and lively area. Cross Jingu Bridge to find a peaceful forest area with huge Tori gates that lead to Meiji Jingu Shrine, dedicated to a past Emperor and often the venue for traditional Japanese weddings.
Harajuku Takeshita street
Meiji Jingu shrine
Kamakura Temporarily leaving Tokyo by rail on an optional trip towards the coast brings us to Kamakura, home to dozens of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. A definite highlight of this culturally rich city is the Great Buddha, a giant bronze statue that survived a 15th century tsunami and now stands as one of the great icons of Japan.
Travelling on the Bullet Train Famous for being incredibly fast and punctual, the Bullet Train, or Shinkansen, will be the method of transport for covering most of the miles on this tour. Surprisingly spacious with reclining and swivelling seats, the pleasant time aboard these elite trains is a real highlight of the tour.
Kyoto Former Capital of Japan and one of the only major cities to escape the tragedies of World War II; Kyoto is one of the best preserved places in Japan. Highlights include taking a guided tour through the Gion district, where trainee Geisha are seen scurrying through the streets dressed in elaborate Kimonos and then have the chance to experience Geisha entertainment first hand – a true cultural experience and a fascinating one at that. There are thousands of temples and shrines to discover in Kyoto, one of the best known being Kinkaku-ji Temple; a stunning ‘Golden Pavilion’ that glistens in the afternoon sun, a stunning sight that is not to be missed.
Hiroshima An incredible, moving and thought-provoking city, Hiroshima has risen from the ashes and is a key highlight on this tour. Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, founded in memory of the nuclear attack that killed thousands and totally destroyed the city during World War II, with visual remains from the day the atomic bomb was dropped. The city has had over 60 years to recover and is now thriving and beautiful, with sculptures and monuments standing in commemoration. Hiroshima is also known for Okonomiyaki, Japanese savoury pancakes that come in a number of tasty variations, usually topped with Japanese mayonnaise and delicious Okonomiyaki sauce!"