Travel Features

The following are a selection of previously published articles highlighting the best of Japan. They aim to answer the what, where, when, why and how questions of fellow travelers exploring the country. Editors interested in licensing existing articles or commissioning new features please contact us.

The Best of Kumamoto

Ancient warriors lay siege to an impregnable fortress, travelers drink from the magical waters of a sacred garden, and a colossal volcano spits ash and sulfurous fumes into the sky. These scenes may seem sound familiar, especially to fans of Lord of the Rings, but they are not from Middle Earth or any other fictional land. The magnificent Kumamoto Castle, Suizen-ji Garden and Mount Aso can all be found in southern Japan. (read more...)

The Best of Nagoya

It’s tough to be in fourth place. For sheer size Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka take the Gold, Silver and Bronze. Meanwhile Nagoya, Japan’s fourth-biggest city is often overlooked. Nagoya, however, has a lot to offer, from an impressive castle and sacred shrines, to the latest in high-tech buildings and automobiles. Explore the city, and then use it as a base to discover the delights of central Japan. (read more...)

The Best of Nagasaki

Nagasaki was once synonymous with commerce, the sole gateway for trade and culture into Japan. Then in 1945 it became known through its tragic destruction. Above all, however, Nagasaki is a city of faith. Buddhist temples, churches, a cathedral, a Confucian shrine, and a raucous Shinto festival are just a small part of the city’s spirituality. (read more...)

The Best of Fukuoka

Fukuoka is the largest city in Kyushu, and possibly the oldest city in Japan. Its close ties with the rest of Asia have made it a cultural and economic hub, but what is most noticeable about Fukuoka is its hedonistic outlook on life. (read more...)

The Best of Nikko

Religious duality is a part of life in Japan. Births and marriages are observed with Shinto ceremonies while funerals follow Buddhist custom. For the Japanese, there is no conflict with the fact that a priest blesses their children, while a monk blesses their dead. (read more...)

Discovering Hiroshima

On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima’s cherry trees, hit by the atomic blast, were left charred, broken, and seemingly dead. However, the following spring, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, those lifeless trees produced buds and then cherry blossom. It was a powerful symbol that the city could recover. (read more...)

The Best of Kobe

For centuries Kobe has been a cosmopolitan port, a melting pot of European and Asian cultures, in a country that has, for the most part, remained ethnically homogenous. It says a lot about the city, that so many travelers and traders have decided to make Kobe their home. (read more...)

The Best of Okayama

Situated midway between Osaka and Hiroshima, Okayama is often overlooked by visitors, seen merely as a blur from the window of a bullet train. The area does, however, have a lot to offer. Okayama is home to the imposing Crow Castle, an idyllic garden, a record-breaking bridge, and, for one night a year, several thousand half-naked men. (read more...)

The Best of Kamakura

Kamakura was once the capital of Japan. For nearly 150 years, it was home to the Minamoto shoguns, and both military strength and religious devotion were prized. Now it is a place for quiet contemplation, less than an hour from the Yokohama-Tokyo metropolis. (read more...)

A Tale of Two Islands
— Taketomi & Iriomote

It’s Japan, but not as we know it. There are no giant corporations, no neon lights, and no bullet trains. On tiny Taketomi Island, rush hour occurs when two water buffalo pass in the street. Iriomote, meanwhile, is Taketomi’s bigger, untamed brother. Known as the “Galapagos of the East,” the island is covered with subtropical forests and is ringed by coral reef. (read more...)

The Best of Osaka

Osaka is the unashamedly brash and hedonistic little brother of Tokyo. When young Japanese are looking for a stable government job, they head for the capital; those who dream of making money by day then partying all night, book a ticket on the first plane for Osaka. (read more...)

Southern Comfort
— Life on Ishigaki Island

2000 kilometers south of Tokyo, lies the emerald green island of Ishigaki. Surrounded by crystal-clear waters, coral reefs and white sand beaches, Ishigaki has become a heavenly retreat for urban Japanese. (read more...)

Castles of Japan

Five centuries ago, Japan was in political chaos as feudal lords fought to increase their share of land and power... These intact castles provide a glimpse into Japanese history, to a time when samurai ruled and the highest code was the way of the sword. (read more...)

The Best of Tokyo

Noisy, crowded, expensive and incomprehensible – Tokyo may not be an obvious tourist destination. Visitors in search of Japanese tradition and culture would be better off in the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara. If you traveled to the north or south of the country, you would be greeted by breathtaking landscapes and friendly, unflustered locals. What Tokyo does have, however, is a frenetic vitality unmatched by any other city in the world. (read more...)

The Best of Kyoto

Kyoto is a busy vibrant city with a population of over 1.4 million people. Like any other Japanese metropolis it has an eclectic mix of old and new, with ancient shrines dwarfed by skyscrapers and department stores... Hidden amongst the contemporary buildings are secret gardens, shrines and temples. Along the narrow alleyways of Gion, visitors can sip jasmine tea and wait for a fleeting look at Asia’s most iconic figure, the geisha. (read more...)

The Best of Nara

Nara and Kyoto are the two biggest tourist destinations in Japan. Kyoto, the more famous of the two, is home to both the remaining geisha and the iconic golden pavilion. Nara, however, is the heart of Japanese Buddhism. Its temples are not just world heritage sites, but are often the largest, oldest and most sacred of their type. (read more...)

Snow Monkey Magic

Bathing naked in a hot spring is a common, if not daily, event for many Japanese. The warm mineral waters soothe aching muscles and relax tired minds. In a country renowned for its almost fanatical work ethic, traditional onsen pools provide a moment of much needed relief. The Japanese people, however, aren't the only ones enjoying the thermal waters. (read more...)

The Best of Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan's four main islands, and its final frontier. It has a quarter of the country's landmass, but only one twentieth of its population. Large sections of the island are national parks where foxes, deer and brown bears outnumber people. Visitors come during winter to ski, and during summer to camp, hike and soak in hot spring pools. (read more...)

The Okinawan Elixir

The secrets of longevity are found not in Shangri-la, but in the homes and hearts of the people of Okinawa. Large numbers of people on Okinawa remain strong and active well into their eighties, nineties and even as centenarians. They have amazingly low occurrences of cancer, heart disease, and strokes. And, on Okinawa the proportion of life that is spent with chronic disease is also much less than the average American. This means that Okinawans, in addition to having a longer lifespan, have more healthy years free from medical problems during which they can live a full and active life. (read more...)