Stretching across the Pacific, this nation of islands is home to contrasting sleek futuristic cities and ancient villages. Where else can you share a tea ceremony with locals, bathe in hot springs, meet a geisha and ride a bullet train? From cherry trees in bloom to ancient shrines, prepare to be enthralled by Japan’s beauty at every turn.
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Japan was incredible, and we LOVED it! The hotels were great, travel worked seamlessly and the team on the ground were there to support us when needed.
Sian W, Japan
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With its unique blend of traditional culture and futuristic flare, Tokyo is a dazzling place to start your Japanese adventure. The capital’s neon towers rub shoulders with peaceful temples and gardens. Teens will inhale Harajuku’s neon pop culture and crazy fashion vibe, whilst little ones will love the immaculate but oh-so-Japanese theme parks and futuristic museums. A family karaoke session is a rite of passage for any reputable traveller!
Japan’s third-largest city, Osaka, is also friendly and food-loving, with a historic castle and plenty of family-friendly attractions including Osaka Aquarium, Universal Studios Japan and Tennoji Zoo. It also makes an ideal jumping-off point for exploring other destinations, including Kyoto, which is just 15 minutes away by bullet train and features the impressive shrine gates of Fushimi-Inari Taisha. Activities here include having tea with a geisha and Samurai classes.
Western Honshu’s largest city, Hiroshima needs little introduction. The Peace Memorial Park provides a sombre and thought-provoking history lesson for the whole family. Nearby Miyajima island offers activities such as kayaking and trekking.
For outdoor pursuits, the Japanese Alps are sprinkled with superb hiking and cycling trails, plus onsen (hot springs) to relax in afterwards. Trek through wildflower meadows in Kamikochi or pedal along the riverside streetscapes of Takayama. Nagano is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists and a jumping-off point for reaching the snow monkeys of Yudanaka.
Mount Fuji & Hakone raise the bar. The country’s tallest mountain sees thousands make the ascent to its 3,776m-high summit every year. There are plenty of other family-friendly activities in Hakone, including hiking through the Owakudani Valley and Hakone Open Air Museum (Japan’s first outdoor museum).
Often compared to Hawaii, the Okinawa Islands feature white sand, warm water and endless snorkelling opportunities, plus diving and whale watching trips.
Whether you are drawn to the buzz of city life or the tranquillity of the stunning national parks and incredible UNESCO world heritage sites, Japan offers something for everyone.
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When to go
There is a wide variation in weather depending on the season. For picture-perfect, delicate cherry blossom and vibrant colour, the best time to travel is during Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-November) when the skies are clear and temperatures are mild.
For hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, the summer offers lovely conditions in the Alps and the wild National Parks, whilst the rest of the country can be hot and humid. During the winter, the snowy north is host to lively festivals and events with skiing undoubtedly the main attraction.
British Airways and Japan Airlines fly direct from London Heathrow to Haneda Tokyo Airport, the flight is currently approximately 14 hours.
Typical carbon emissions for a return flight (Economy) per person: 670 kg.
FCDO travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/japan
Time Zone: GMT+9 (Tokyo)
Capital City: Tokyo
Where to Stay in Japan
Grandvrio Resort - Okinawa Islands
Osaka Miyako Marriott Hotel - Osaka
Iwaso Ryokan - Hiroshima & Miyajima
Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel - Hiroshima & Miyajima
Machiya Residences - Kyoto
Hyatt Regency Kyoto - Kyoto
Gora Kadan Ryokan - Mount Fuji & Hakone
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo - Tokyo