Nature has always played an important role in Japanese culture, and the tradition survives with the celebration of the arrival of spring by observing the cherry blossoms. Here is some advice about this festival, the hanami, and the best places to observe the trees in full blossom.
Hokkaido is a hiker's paradise, thanks to its majestic, wild mountainous landscapes.
Its national parks provide stunning views as well as a wealth of plant and animal life.
Some are very isolated and difficult to access, but offer, nonetheless, a great sense of freedom.
There are several important locations on the Wakayama peninsula, just a few hours from Kyoto and Osaka. Koyasan is one of the country's first Buddhist centres, and pilgrims travel many kilometres to get there. Discovering these places can help you to better understand this religion.
If you liked the film Princess Mononoke, you'll love Yakushima island and going for walks through a primary forest with centuries-old trees. This forest was the inspiration behind Hayao Miyazaki's film set. The Ghibli museum in Mitaka is a sort of scrapbook with its photos of trees, forests and places, highlighting the source of inspiration for this master of animation.
Though the city itself is sprawling and modern, its old town quarter is interesting and very well-preserved. Amongst other attractions, it contains a castle, Japanese gardens, temples, and both geisha and samurai houses. It is one of Japan's major cultural centres, where various traditional arts and crafts are still practised today.
An enormous festival dedicated to modern art, the Setouchi Triennale brings together more than 200 artists and attracts a million visitors. Of the many pieces created for the festival, some are later left in place, others not. The artworks are dispersed across the 12 islands of the Inland Sea.
Closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, Iriomote Island is a tropical island paradise: golden beaches, tropical fish, coral reefs, mangroves, delicious food, warm climate all year round...
Don't forget your sunscreen, flip flops and swimwear!
The Ainu are an aborigine population living in Hokkaido and in the extreme east of Russia. This population is considered to be the indigenous population of Hokkaido and even of Japan, as they arrived around 1300 before Jesus Christ. Different places in Hokkaido allow you to understand their culture and traditions.