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Tokyo Hiroshima Nagoya Kanto Hokkaido Okayama
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Home > Japan Hotels > Japan Intro


Japan Travel Guide - with Wired Destinations

     

Discount Hotels in Japan : Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagoya, Kanto, Hokkaido, Okayama, Kansai, Kyushu, Tohoku, Kanazawa, Niigata

 

Japan

At the north western edge of the Pacific Ocean, lays the four main islands that comprise Japan. They are a rugged lot-mountainous, deep valleys and indented coastlines-that stretch from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea in the south. Dropping in latitude through some 19 degrees and combined with myriad regional influences, ensures Japan receives an extremely diverse set of meteorological conditions. Thus, Hokkaido Island, in the north, boasts great skiing and winter recreation while much further to the south on Okinawa, palm trees wave in tropical breezes. In recent decades, the economic dynamo of this multifaceted nation has dominated world markets. The people, descended from fearless and proud warrior stock, have switched their focus from the conquest of land to the domination of technology and production. Despite automation and a single-minded collective effort, Japanese society is still firmly anchored in obscure and subtle nuance. A complex set of unwritten codes of conduct rule the social interplay where finesse and respect entwine in a wordless mutual understanding, yet which often confuses westerners. The arts are as deeply ingrained in Japanese culture as the respect for beauty and simplicity in nature. Japan is a delightful and fascinating destination that will long be remembered by all who visit.

Japan Map
Japan Map

Tokyo

Maiko girl in Gion (Kyoto), Japan
Maiko girl in Gion (Kyoto), Japan

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and the country's most populous city. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 12 million people live in this sprawling metropolis creating an exciting thrum of non-stop activity. The actual metropolitan area is comprised of 23 wards (making up the centre of Tokyo), 26 cities, 5 towns and 8 villages including the Izu and Ogasawara Islands (several small Pacific Islands south of Japan's main island Honshu.) Once upon a time Tokyo was a small fief known as Edo. From its 16th century beginnings, Edo grew to become Japan's premier city and political centre under the rule of Tokugawa Ieyasu. With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the emperor chose Edo over Kyoto as the capital, which was then renamed Tokyo ("Eastern Capital"). Large parts of Tokyo were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and in the air raids of World War II. Since, however, Tokyo has rocketed to fame and fortune as on of the world's financial capitals. The expansion has spilled into surrounding suburbs where the millions of daily commuters queue up for the efficient and "always on time" subways. The manicured grounds of the Imperial Palace grace the heart of Tokyo, which are themselves surrounded by a thick mass of architectural panache. Headquarters for major financial institutions and computer companies, Tokyo is also the cultural and administrative centre of Japan. It is a city that runs on adrenaline 24-hours a day, illuminated at night by the neon and glitz of the famous Ginza shopping and entertainment district, and by a veritable 'smorg' of nightclubs, theatres, and restaurants.

Nagoya

Himeji Castle, Japan
Himeji Castle, Japan

With a population hovering around two million people, Nagoya is the country's fourth most populated city. It is the capital of Aichi Prefecture and the principal city of the Nobi plain, one of Honshu's three large plains. The Owari, part of the Tokugawa clan, presided over this region since the settlement began. Unfortunately, much of the city, including most of its historic buildings was destroyed in the air raids of World War Two, leaving relatively little in the way of tourist attractions today. Highlights include: The Nagoya Castle, which was built in the beginning of the Edo Period for the Owari. Subsequently, Nagoya developed into an important castle town. The castle was partially destroyed during World War II. The current reconstruction dates from 1959. The interior of the castle is now a modern museum displaying the castle's history. The surrounding park becomes popular during the cherry blossom season. The Atsuta Shrine is one of Shinto's most important shrines. It enshrines the Sun Goddess Amaterasu and holds the sacred sword, one of the three imperial regalia-the sword is never displayed to the public. Atsuta Shrine is located in a pleasant, wooded park in southern Nagoya. During the Meiji Period, the shrine was remodelled after the Ise Shrines, a pure Japanese Shinmei-zukuri architectural style. For a treat, try the kishimen noodle dish from the small restaurant found on the property. Kishimen noodles are Nagoya's signature dish.

Hiroshima

No theatre performance, Japan
No theatre performance, Japan

The city is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture and the largest city of the Chugoku Region, the westernmost region on Japan's main island of Honshu. Roughly one million people call Hiroshima home. On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was chosen by US armed forces as the first ever target of an atomic bomb employed over a populated area. As a result, 200,000 civilians perished, and Hiroshima became a city vehemently engaged in the promotion of peace. Hiroshima's Peace Park including the memorial museum, and the island of Miyajima (literally: shrine island), located 40 minutes from the city centre by train and ferry, are among Japan's most interesting tourist attractions. The Peace Memorial Park was constructed to commemorate the catastrophic event of August 6, 1945. It is located near the bomb's epicentre, and houses the Peace Memorial Museum as well as other A-bomb related monuments. The Peace Memorial Museum graphically displays the atomic bomb's devastating effects on the city and its inhabitants. The Atomic Bomb Dome is one of the few buildings around the explosion's epicentre that partially survived the blast. It is also the city's only remaining bomb-damaged building. Between the museum and the Atomic Bomb Dome stands the Memorial Cenotaph for Atomic Bomb Victims. It records all the people who were killed by the explosion or died due to long-term effects such as cancer caused by radiation. The Statue of the A-Bomb Children and the Cenotaph for Korean Victims are some of the other monuments found in the park. Miyajima has been celebrated as a sacred island and one of Japan's three most scenic views. It is most famous for Itsukushima Shrine, which, together with its large wooden torii (gate), stands in the ocean during high tide. Deer move around the island freely, as do monkeys on top of Misen, the island's highest mountain. The island is quite romantic in the evening when the tourist crowds return to the mainland and only the visitors who stay overnight stroll the calm streets enjoying the sight of the illuminated shrine.

Hokkaido

Ainu boy playing historical instrument, Japan
Ainu boy playing historical instrument, Japan

The original inhabitants of Hokkaido were the Ainu, a people of uncertain origin with a language and culture quite distinct from that of the Japanese. About 17,000 Ainu remain today, and their heritage has profoundly influenced the development of the island. Evidence suggests that the first Japanese may have arrived in Hokkaido in the 7th century, but it was not until the middle of the 19th century that the island became a major focus for Japanese policy and development. With the establishment of the Colonization Commission and the settlement of Sapporo, the government began colonizing the island in earnest, partly due to fears of Russian interest in the island. Sapporo developed as the economic, political and culture hub of these pioneering strategies. Hokkaido's population density is 72 persons per square kilometre, which is the lowest in the nation. Spaciousness is a characteristic of Hokkaido. With abundant nature and relatively low-priced land, it is a region with great potential.

Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. The Japanese rate Sapporo as one of the most desirable places in Japan to visit. The city's rich history, striking natural beauty, relaxed character and abundance of attractions make it easy to understand why. The vibrant growth of Sapporo has made this city of 1.79 million the fifth largest in Japan. Sapporo presents a unique combination of northern natural beauty, an exciting recreation and leisure environment, and a vibrant cultural scene.

Okayama

Yamabushi monks, Kyoto, Japan
Yamabushi monks, Kyoto, Japan

Okayama is the capital of Okayama Prefecture and a major transportation hub of the Chugoku Region. The city is most famous for Korakuen, known as one of Japan's three most beautiful landscape gardens. The garden, which was built in the 17th century by the local feudal lord, contains ponds, teahouses, pavilions, woods, an artificial hill, several small shrines and wide lawns. Okayama Castle stands just next to Korakuen. Okayama Castle, also known as "crow castle" due to its black exterior, was built in 1597. It was destroyed in World War II and reconstructed in the 1960s. The castle's interior is modern and houses a museum. The castle is on the opposite side of the Asahi River from Korakuen. It is possible to purchase combination tickets for both attractions.

Kyushu

Yamabushi blowing shells, Kyoto, Japan
Yamabushi blowing shells, Kyoto, Japan

This is Japan's third largest island, located southwest of the main island Honshu. An early centre of Japanese civilization, Kyushu offers many historic treasures, modern cities and unsurpassed natural beauty. Fukuoka is Kyushu's largest and most vibrant city. Dazaifu was Kyushu's administrative centre during the Heian Period. Nagasaki is an attractive port city. Kumamoto is modern city, which is most famous for its castle. Beppu is one of Japan's most famous hot spring resorts.


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