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Japan

Robots, ramen, and timeless elegance
It's true: there's simply no place like Japan. This is a country that fuses the ultra-modern and traditional with ease, a nation that blends the elegance of kimonos and the speed of bullet trains with verve.

In Tokyo, a modern metropolis of skyscrapers and bullet trains electrifies, while in imperial Kyoto, tea ceremonies and Zen gardens take you back in time. And at Mt. Fuji, Japan's spectacular natural beauty abounds. But no matter where you go, it’s the little experiences - a bowl of spicy ramen,fortune-telling at a Shinto shrine, the shade of a pale-pink kimono, the whimsicality of a robot cafe - that will make your time here truly captivating.

Read more
It's true: there's simply no place like Japan. This is a country that fuses the ultra-modern and traditional with ease, a nation that blends the elegance of kimonos and the speed of bullet trains with verve.

In Tokyo, a modern metropolis of skyscrapers and bullet trains electrifies, while in imperial Kyoto, tea ceremonies and Zen gardens take you back in time. And at Mt. Fuji, Japan's spectacular natural beauty abounds. But no matter where you go, it’s the little experiences - a bowl of spicy ramen,fortune-telling at a Shinto shrine, the shade of a pale-pink kimono, the whimsicality of a robot cafe - that will make your time here truly captivating.

Location

Japan sits between the Sea of Okhotsk, the Sea of Japan and the Philippine Sea. It borders China, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and Taiwan. Owing to its central location, flights from India to
Japan only take about 8 hours.

When to go

If you’re planning a Japan vacation, consider visiting during spring to catch the cherry blossom season in March and April. If you’re a fan of warm, sunnier days, visit in October and November. However, if you’re on a budget, consider travelling during the off-season (late autumn to late February) and look for deals you can avail on Japan travel packages or Japan vacation packages.

Where to go

The unending list of best places to visit in Japan makes this Asian nation larger-than-life even though it is a fairly small country. A repository of ancient culture perfectly blended with picturesque landscapes with state-of-the-art modernity; Japan is truly an explorer’s paradise. Indeed, when planning trips to Japan the most exciting - and challenging - part (besides choosing from a host of Japan packages from India) is deciding which places to include! 

At a glance

Language: Japanese
Locals speak Japanese. However, travelling around Japan, you’ll find that many people also understand and speak English. Japanese language translation guides are also readily available.
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At a glance

Language

Japanese
Locals speak Japanese. However, travelling around Japan, you’ll find that many people also understand and speak English. Japanese language translation guides are also readily available.

Currency

Yen
The currency in Japan is the Yen. At the moment of posting, the Japan currency to INR conversion is 1 Yen= 0.65INR.

Weather

Japan has four distinct seasons offering different kinds of holidays. From May to September, cities are hot and humid, but June and July see heavy rainfall. While Japan’s temperature fluctuates across the country, monsoon circulation is a significant influence and most regions see heavy rainfall in the middle of the year. Autumn in Japan is lovely and winters see snow in areas like Hokkaido and the Japanese Alps.

Expert travel advice

Travel tips and insider advice that have made the most difference to us, sourced from our
community of like-minded travellers and global experts.

Walk in the Arashiyama Bamboo forest   

Recommended by Nerd Nomads

“The light is absolutely beautiful with the sun barely peeking through the bright green bamboo leaves and the stalks swinging in the wind. The wind is making the trunks creak eerily as they collide and twist. I feel like I have entered another world, like a place taken out of the fairy tale of Alice in Wonderland. It feels like a magic forest!”

Nerd Nomads, run by Maria and Espen, is a Liebster Award-winning blog shares in-depth destination guides for imaginative travellers.

Sip tea with a view of Mt. Fuji   

Recommended by The Shooting Star

“Mount Fuji is not just one of Japan’s iconic mountains, it is also revered by the Japanese people as a sacred mountain. Surprisingly, I learnt that Fuji-san is not the only mountain that is worshipped in Japan. So are all the other mountains, trees, rocks and rivers. It stems from Shintoism – the original animist Japanese faith – in which elements of nature are worshipped as ‘gods’, with Shinto Shrines often dedicated to them.”

Shivya Nath of The Shooting Star is India's top travel blogger who has been crafting inspiring and useful content on travel for 7 years.

Visit the Fushimi Inari shrine   

Recommended by Nerd Nomads

“As I walk from the Fushimi Inari shrine to the top of the 233 meter high Mount Inari, I struggle to make sense of what I am seeing. More than four thousand sparklingly red Torii gates arch across the narrow pathway that leads to the top. In some places, the gates stand so close together that even the sunlight has a hard time getting through. They form a glowing red tunnel that winds itself up the narrow mountain path.”

Nerd Nomads, run by Maria and Espen, is a Liebster Award-winning blog features in-depth destination guides for imaginative travellers.

Venture into quirky themed cafes   

Recommended by Christine Abroad

“All around Tokyo, you will find all sorts of wacky cafés. There are so many awesome themed cafés in Tokyo to choose from, such as maid cafés, anime cafés, and themed movie cafés."

This popular blog is filled with valuable travel tips and guides, travel inspiration and of course adventures from all over the world by Christine.

Stay at a Ryokan   

Recommended by Borders of Adventure

“A stay at Ryokan should definitely be on your list – even if only for one night. You actually feel as though you are ‘living’ in Japan, returning to a relaxing home after a busy day out in the fast-paced incredible city of Tokyo...one of the things I loved the most? Getting to wear a ‘yukata’ – which we know better by the generic name of kimono. It’s custom to wear this in the Ryokan when you are lounging indoors, especially after coming back for the day and after bathing.”

Becki Enright, a British Travel Press award-winning writer runs this leading culture and adventure travel blog, where destination inspiration is combined with social, historical, political and cultural reporting.

Incredible places to visit in Japan

Nara

As Japan’s spiritual heart, Nara is home to some of the country’s oldest and largest temples, set in natural locales. If you’re travelling through the entire country, take a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka and stroll through lush gardens and visit bedecked shrines to take a breather from your packed itinerary, or stay the evening and witness a fire festival.

Todaiji Temple and Daibutsu

A Nara landmark, Todaiji Temple was constructed as the head temple of all provincial temples in Japan, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by the Emperor Shomu, it took 15 years to complete and was intended to be a symbol of imperial power. The temple’s main hall - the Daibutsuden - is the largest wooden building in the world and contains one of Japan’s most colossal bronze Buddha statues which attracts travellers from across the globe.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine

Nara’s most revered shrine, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, is famous for the many bronze lanterns that have been donated by devout worshippers. They are lit at the Lantern Festivals held twice a year in February and August. On the premises, you can also visit the Kasuga Taisha Museum and the botanical garden for a relaxing evening outdoors.

Nara Park

At the foot of Mount Wakakusa is Nara Park, Japan’s sacred deer sanctuary. Designated as Japan’s national treasure and considered messengers of the gods, hundreds of wild deer roam free. Now, they have become accustomed to visitors and are even tame enough for you to feed them.

Isuien Gardens

With a backdrop of Nara’s mountains and the Nandaimon (Great South Gate) of Todaiji Temple, Isuien Gardens is Nara’s most picturesque landmark. With tea houses dotting the landscape, the garden is divided into two and has plenty of ponds that are fed by the Yoshikigawa River.

Harushika Sake Tasting

You can sample Sake- Japanese rice wine- at Nara’s sake brewery that sells its wares internationally. Nara was the first place Sake was mass produced in the country, so it is the best destination if you are trying Sake for the first time. While you sip, try some Japanese pickles or even some tuna to go with it.

Kyoto

Home to over 2000 temples, imperial palaces,  and  shrines, this cultural capital is still rooted in Japanese tradition. The city keeps alive several crafts and traditions such as washi paper and indigo-dyed curtains, with artisans still earning their livelihood from the trades of their forefathers.
For those interested in the quiet beauty and elegance of Japan, Kyoto is the place to go.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Pure visual splendour. Distinguished by thousands of striking vermilion torii gates, Fushimi Inari Shrine is a famous Shinto shrine with trails leading through the forests of the sacred Mount Inari. Interestingly, the gates, are donated by companies or individuals and house even smaller shrines and sub-shrines within them.

Kiyomizudera Temple

The Kiyomizudera Temple or Pure Water Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Japan’s most picturesque and celebrated temples. It is seated atop the Ottawa Waterfall, that further runs into three streams. Each stream is said to have a different benefit- a fulfilling love life, longevity and success at school. Visitors use cups to drink from them, but you may be considered greedy if you drink from all three. Make sure you also visit the Jishu Shrine which houses the deity of love and matchmaking.

Gion District

Kyoto’s entertainment hub, the Gion District, is frequented for its shops, restaurants and tea houses. It is also Kyoto’s most famous geisha district and you are likely to encounter their legendary hospitality at several of the fine dining restaurants in the neighbourhood. An important tip to remember during your Japan tour is to be extremely respectful of them and their profession.

Kyoto National Museum

The Kyoto National Museum is a must-visit on your holiday if you have an eye for art. It houses a permanent collection of sculptures, relics, paintings and costumes that focus on pre-modern Japanese and Asian art. The buildings of the museum themselves are beautiful examples of Meiji architecture.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Walk through a green enclave of bamboo, the sun on your bank, and whispers of  wind rustling the leaves, for an experience like no other. The Arashiyama forest can transport you to another world, that even the best photographs do little justice to.  If you opt for a Japan honeymoon package, this forest is a romantic place to spend the day with a loved one.

Osaka

Japan’s second most populous metropolitan, Osaka is the poster-city of Japan’s ultra-modernism. With cutting edge architecture, world-renowned art museums, immersive entertainment experiences and modern and experimental dining, Osaka has gained world status for its contemporary fare. A stop at Osaka makes jam-packed Japan holidays better with its relaxed, fun and constantly abuzz atmosphere, allowing travellers to let loose and enjoy the city like locals do.

Osaka Castle

In the centre of Osaka’s bustle, stands a piece of history worth visiting. The elegant Osaka Castle Was built by famed Japanese warrior and politician Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Destroyed after his defeat in 1615, and then destroyed again after it was rebuilt by the Tokugawa shoguns, its current iteration dates back to 1931. For history buffs, a tour through the castle’s museum is a trip back in time. Different floors are dedicated to different eras and rulers. Keep an eye out for a glass display of The Summer War of Osaka. It is filled with hundreds of miniature figures. The detail of the costumes, the facial expressions of the soldiers is incredible.

Dotonbori

Osaka’s most colourful destination, Dotonbori, a bustling commercial is characterized by larger-than-life signage and seems almost powered by neon. It is a treat for adventurous food lovers, as it is crowded with both street stalls and world-famous restaurants alike. Stroll through the bylanes to discover the pulsating nightlife of the city in local bars and clubs.

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Osaka is a delight for kids of all ages, and attracts around 13 million visitors every year. It features 9 zones including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and Universal Wonderland. If you’re in the mood for adventure, we recommend the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, the Flying Dinosaur at Jurassic Park and the roller coaster that goes backwards called Hollywood Dream – The Ride.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The world’s largest aquarium and a must-visit, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan brings you up and close with iconic and adorable marine life. Housing over 600 species and 30,000 marine animals from across the Pacific Rim, in 15 marine tanks, the tour begins from the 8th floor down to the central tank that is home to a whale shark!

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is one of Japan’s oldest shrines, having been constructed before the introduction of Buddhism. Featuring unique architecture, it is characterized by the straight roof that’s decorated with forked finials and five billets. This is one of the most visited spots in Japan, with crowds pouring in on New Year (the customary first visit to a shrine).

Tokyo

A bustle of ultramodern and quietly traditional, Tokyo is a bucket-list site in itself. From towering skyscrapers and new age art museums to quiet shrines, no two streets in Tokyo are the same and you are sure to find something unexpected around every corner. On the top of most lists of places to visit in Japan, the capital offers weird and wonderful experiences unique to every kind of traveller.

Tokyo Skytree

The tallest structure in Tokyo and the tallest tower in the world, Tokyo Skytree runs 634 meters high and therefore is the perfect place to go for postcard-perfect panoramas of the city. With sweeping views of the bustling metropolis below you and the imposing Mt. Fuji in the near distance, its observation deck offers the best viewing seat in the city. After you’ve taken in the sights, head to the shopping complex below for exciting dining, entertainment and shopping experiences.

Shibuya crossing

If you haven’t got “crossing the street” down on your Japan itinerary yet, grab a pen. The Shibuya crossing in Tokyo is possibly the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world and has come to be one of the city’s modern landmarks. Located outside Shibuya station, this famous crossing sees upwards of 2500 people spilling onto the intersection at once, all scrambling in different directions. With every turn of signal light, travellers are left mesmerized by the crossing’s practised chaos-watching; locals deftly dodge each other like a rehearsed dance routine.

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Take it from us - Sumo is as enthralling up-close as it is on TV. Located in the Ryogoku area, Ryogoku Kokugikan is the country’s largest and national Sumo hall. Drawing up to 10,000 visitors, this impressive building plays host to three of six national sumo tournaments. 

Tournaments take place for 15 days each in January, May and September and if you happen to be in town for one, don’t think twice. While the mornings see slower traffic, getting a seat post 2 pm to watch Japan’s top wrestlers go head-to-head is something you can’t miss. Pro tip: You can even rent a radio before the tournament for commentary in English! After the match, tour the restaurants of Ryogoku and eat like champions do with hot bowls of Chanko Nabe- the Sumo staple dish of vegetables, seafood and meat.

Sensoji Temple & Asakusa Shopping

Tokyo’s oldest and most photographed temple, the colourful Sensoji Temple is only a short walk from Tokyo Skytree but a different world altogether. The temple’s premises greet you with incense. The legend of its origin says, two fishermen chanced upon a statue of the Goddess Kannon and tried to return it to the river, only to find it back with them. Once they realized it was the Goddess, they built a shrine out of their home and so was born the Sensoji Temple.

As you step through the outer gate-Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), a long path called Nakamise Dori is packed with a hundred stores before you reach the main hall. Here you can find anything from a kimono to a paper fan, and plenty of sweet and savoury snacks to fill your hungry stomach.

Shinjuku Gyo-en

Shinjuku Gyo-en is a national park. Bring a picnic lunch as you stroll through its formal French garden, landscaped English garden and traditional Japanese garden complete with a teahouse. If you visit during the cherry blossom season in March and April, you can see it transformed entirely, flushed in pink and white flowers.

Sapporo

An urban city with a young vibe, Sapporo offers travellers eco-tours, stylish cafes, great ramen and plenty of beer festivals; your Japan vacation is incomplete without a visit to this city. 

If you have time on your hands, take an exclusive tour of the mountainous region by cycle and horseback. You can even indulge in a hot spring bath outdoor with Sapporo’s natural landscape playing backdrop. This city’s week-long Snow Festival attracts crowds every year and is also a top spot for veteran skiers.

Shiroi Koibito Park

Cookie-lovers, rejoice! Shiroi Koibito, Hokkaido’s most delectable souvenir is loved the world over but if you are in Sapporo and a Shiroi lover, we’ve got just the place for you! A theme park based on the famous cookie, it features a tour through the cookie factory, hosts workshops to make your own cookies, a cafe and exciting chocolate exhibits.

Sapporo Factory

Built on Japan’s first brewery site, the Sapporo Factory is a massive shopping complex with over 160 establishments including movie cinemas, souvenir shops, fashion outlets and a museum. Spend a day shopping here and grab a beer when the day is done for the authentic Sapporo experience.

Nijo Ichiba Seafood Market

In the centre of Sapporo, stands the Nijo Ichiba Market. The potent smell of fresh local seafood wafts through the air and the street stalls sell everything from fresh salmon eggs to delectable sea urchins. A great way to start your day is to sit down at one of the many restaurants and get a wholesome seafood breakfast or dive into a warm ramen bowl for lunch.

Sapporo Beer Museum

If you’re a beer enthusiast, a tour of the Sapporo Beer Museum should be on your list! A part of most Japan holiday packages, this exciting tour takes you through the history of brewing in Japan to its present day, showcases and educates you about the ingredients used to brew and then ends on a delicious note with a tasting session to delight.

Hokkaido Pioneer Village

This open-air museum transports you back in time to the Meiji and Taisho eras. The village, featuring 60 periodic buildings, is divided into the city area, farm village, fishing village and the mountain village that you can explore by horse-led carriage, and feels almost like you are on a film set. The museum has five main themes covering wildlife, history and Ainu culture.

Top things to do & experience in Japan

Nobody wants to be a tourist. Here are curated experiences in art, music, food, culture and communities
to help you have an authentic and memorable trip.

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