While retaining its time-honored culture, JAPAN rapidly absorbed Western technology during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among the vibrant green of the mountains, amidst the fluttering cherry blossom petals, within the transition of the four seasons, people see colors. Within Japanese-style homes fragrant of wood, in tableware that colors the dining table, Japan’s colors and shapes are messages that convey spirit and culture.
Your grand journey of Japan begins in Tokyo, the Capital of Japan. The city’s history can be appreciated in districts such as Asakusa, and in many excellent museums, historic temples and gardens. Tokyo also offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining to its visitors. Surprisingly, Tokyo also offers a number of attractive green spaces in the city center.
Japanese wisteria mesmerizes people by its mysterious beauty and fragrance. Long strings of flowers in various colors are treats for the eyes and soul, especially when they are witnessed in great locations. Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi is one of the best places to view wisteria in Japan. Various flowers give miscellaneous colors to the park year-round and over 350 wisterias among them is the main attraction from mid-April to mid-May. Including grand wisteria aged over 130 years or 80m-long tunnel of white flowers, there are varieties of feasts for the eyes.
Lake Kawaguchiko is the most accessible of the Fuji Five Lakes with train and direct bus connections to Tokyo. A hot spring resort town with various tourist attractions and views of Mount Fuji is located around the lake’s eastern end, while the northern and western shores are mostly undeveloped. The best views of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed from the lake’s northern shores and are particularly breathtaking during the autumn colors. The Fuji Shibazakura Festival is one of the best and most popular occasions nationwide to see shibazakura (pink moss or phlox moss in English). The venue of the festival is located about three kilometers south of Lake Motosuko in the Fuji Five Lakes area, offering breathtaking views of vast fields of shibazakura, with Mount Fuji in the backdrop on clear days. The festival is typically held from mid-April through early June. The best time to see the flowers varies from year to year but usually falls into the first three weeks of May. Approximately 800,000 stalks of shibazakura of five varieties are on display, producing delightful fields of pink, white and purple colors in different hues. Festival stalls selling pots of pink moss, shibazakura-themed souvenirs, food and local produce complete the experience.
Board an express train to Takayama, a city in the high mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture. Takayama retains a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town – Shirakawa-go. Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, these villages with their Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The large houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs are the only examples of their kind in Japan. Despite economic upheavals, the villages of Ogimachi, Ainokura and Suganuma are outstanding examples of a traditional way of life perfectly adapted to the environment and people’s social and economic circumstances.
An express train ride will bring you to Kyoto, where over 1,000 years of history and Buddhist culture live on today. Kyoto flourished as the capital of Japan for several centuries after 794 and is one of the few cities in Japan to maintain its ancient architecture. Thirteen temples, three shrines and Nijo Castle are all registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Enjoy a day trip to Nara, located less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka. Due to its past as the first permanent capital of Japan, it remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest temples.
Take a bullet train to Osaka on your own for an overnight stay and transfer to Kansai International Airport the following day for your homebound flight or wing onto your next destination. For those who are staying in Japan, you are free on your own after checking out from the hotel.