The Great Eastern Border
Ranked top amongst the best spots to visit around the world, Tokyo is truly a colorful myriad of city lights and life, as well as one of the world’s largest business centers. The supercity is complete with numerous pop culture sites, famous shopping districts, and world renowned Michelin restaurants. But it is not just the beautiful decor and vivid rush of life that makes Tokyo the special place it is. While Tokyo has become the example of modernity itself, its rich historical past as the grand merchant city of Edo can still be seen in the districts of Asakusa and Ginza and others.
Not many other sites in Japan have quite as rich a history as that of Kamakura nor remain as traditional as Kamakura. From 1192, Kamakura reigned as the de-facto capital of Japan, under which samurai culture was founded. Remnants of the historical treasures of the period still remain in the shape of numerous temples and gardens in the area, as well as the famous giant Buddha statue of Kamakura. The austere architectural wonders of Kamakura is in stark contrast to many of those in Kyoto, where wealth and splendor is emphasized. Kamakura is located just an hour away from Tokyo and is a phenomenal site for a daytrip outside of the city. As an added bonus, Kamakura offers a beautiful stretch of shoreline and beaches to enjoy as well.
For hot springs lovers and those seeking an unparalleled view of Mt. Fuji, there's no resort spot better than Hakone! You will find the most luxurious and famous ryokans hidden in this mountainous area.
Enjoy a fine balance of nature and history as you explore through Nikko's gorgeous national park and the lavish Toshogu shrine dedicated to the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate
Japan's iconic image, the majestic mountain of Fuji beckons you to take on the challenge of making it to the peak
The Western Gate
If there is one place to highlight the sheer vastness of Japan’s cultural and historical mystique, Kyoto is the clear candidate. With over a thousand years of rich cultural history, Kyoto features a wide array of stellar iconic gardens, temples, and shrines. Journey through the thousands of exotic gates of Fushimi Inari, relax amongst rows of bamboo in Arashiyama, or dive through the part of Kyoto where past meets modern. Kyoto is home to the best traditional craftsmen of kimonos, fans, and pottery, as well as numerous world renowned restaurants.
Roughly an hour from Kyoto rests the ancient capital of Nara. Enjoy a stroll through Nara Park while playing with deer and enter through the massive gates of the Todaiji temple which houses the World’s largest bronze Buddha statue. As the first capital of Japan, Nara is famous for hosting several of Japan’s oldest national treasures and temples.
The third largest city of Japan and famously known as the nation’s kitchen during its merchant city days in the Edo period, Osaka is the hotspot for those looking to try unique Japanese local soul foods such as Osaka-style okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and takoyaki (grilled octopus puffs). The bustling district of Nanba and the famous street of Dotonbori are must sees when visiting Osaka. But besides food, Osaka boasts one of the most impressive cityscapes alongside its famous Osaka castle and Universal Studio park. Perhaps most famous however is the cheerful, humorous demeanor of the locals. Osaka is well known throughout Japan for its comedians.
The Snow Covered Northlands
Alongside Kyoto, Kanazawa remains one of Japan’s major cultural sites, garnering recognition from UNESCO as Japan’s representative city of arts and crafts. Ever since its prominence during the Edo period as the second largest domain of Japan, Kanazawa has continued the trend of its first daimyo patron in devoting itself to developing cultural appreciation in both the arts and cuisine. Its long historical background and cultural depth certainly show in the numerous gardens and artisan streets that line the old castle and entertainment districts.
Venture off the city roads for a day trip to one of Japan’s most beautiful rural areas. Designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, Shirakawa Village is home to one of Japan’s most unique architectural style known as the Minka styled Gassho-zukuri. The sight of these beautifully woven, traditional thatched rooftops in a quiet rural village surrounded by nature’s abundant beauty is simply beyond stunning throughout the seasons. Shirakawa village makes for the perfect day trip from Takayama, but is also phenomenal for a one night stay.
The Southern Isles of Japan
Hiroshima has shown great resilience and tremendous efforts in rebuilding following World War II, earning itself the title as the city of peace. Home to not only the symbolic and architecturally stunning Peace Memorial Park designed by Tange Kenzo, Hiroshima also boasts some of the most beautiful and iconic landscapes in its numerous gardens as well as the breathtaking island of Miyajima, claimed by Ando Tadao as his favorite site in the world. The city is also renowned for its unique twist on the famous Japanese cuisine of Okonomiyaki.
The serene island town of Naoshima lies off the shores of Shikoku in the Seto Inland Sea. Best known for its famous collection of fine and contemporary arts galleries designed by Ando Tadao, its public sculptures by Yayoi Kusama, and its stretches of natural beautiful beaches and loft greenery, Naoshima is the luxurious resort island for those looking for a peaceful getaway into the realm of arts and design.