Japan is unlike anywhere else on Earth. A rich culture has evolved over thousands of years but remained relatively untouched by outside influences. This has allowed Japan to maintain a strong national identity that permeates through its food, art, music, design and popular culture.
This guide will highlight some of best places to eat, things to do and places to stay in some of Japan’s most popular cities, as well as some of the weird and wacky customs, dining traditions and special events that will make any trip here a memorable one.
ISLANDS MAKE UP JAPAN
COMIC BOOKS SOLD EACH YEAR
LIFESTYLE & CULTURE
Delight in a traditional Bunraku puppet show, recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, in Osaka. Grab a wicker basket and head to the fields for a hands-on tea-picking adventure in the countryside of Shimizu. Discover the health benefits and social atmosphere of an “onsen” hot spring bath in Aomori. Tour Kagoshima’s shochu factory and learn how grains and vegetables create one of Japan’s spirited elixirs.
NATURAL WONDERS & LANDSCAPES
Be dazzled by the panoramic views of Japan's iconic Mount Fuji, an active volcano and the most popular tourist site in the country. Admire the spectacular views of Akita’s Oga peninsula, home of Godzilla Rock and mythical creatures called “Namahage.” Take in the sheer magnificence of Shiretoko Peninsula, an acclaimed Condé Nast Traveler 7 Cruise Wonders of the World – it may just leave you breathless.
Learn the ways of samurai warriors with a visit to Nagoya’s medieval castle. Enjoy an authentic “yakiniku” lunch in Sakaiminato. Observe as skilled artisans use native Tochigi bark, iron-rich mud and their own unique vision to create delicate pieces of pongee silk in Amami Oshima. Japan is a land of festivals, and on select sailings you can experience the mesmerizing spectacle known as the Awa Odori Dance Festival in Tokushima or get an up-close look at the exquisite parade floats used in Aomori’s annual Nebuta festival.
Explore Kochi Castle, a designated Japanese National Treasure, and the only castle in the country with its original wooded interior, castle tower, and impressive entrance still intact. Step into Japan’s ancient past with a tour of Aomori’s Sannai-Maruyama ruins, which date back 5,500 years and are designated a Special National Historical Site. Get a bird’s-eye view of Tokyo and Mount Fuji from the special observatory atop Tokyo Tower. Wander through the narrow, winding streets of Kanazawa’s samurai district known as Nagamachi Samurai House Row, which sits at the foot of Kanazawa Castle.