Japan is like the two faces of one coin, both connected but starkly different. On one side you have the futuristic cities like Tokyo and Osaka with their neon lights, flashy buildings, and hi-tech appliances. On the other, is traditional Japan with centuries of culture, delicately handed down from one generation to the next. The beauty of Japan is that these two sides complement each other perfectly, where Shinto and Samurai are as much a part of everyday life as the next big gadget.
A top thing to do in Japan to experience this ancient side is to spend a night at a traditional Japanese inn or an old farmhouse. Experience what it is like to sleep on a futon on a tatami floor, rather than a bed, after you’ve had one of the most exquisite meals. There is much more to Japanese food than sushi which you’ll soon discover as you travel the country.
Another very traditional thing that the Japanese pride themselves on is the bath which is fed by water from the onsen. There are thousands of these hot springs scattered across the major islands, created by the high volume of volcanoes. Traditional inns (ryokan) are generally built near or over these onsens.
The archipelago has 6,852 islands stretching along the Pacific coast with a large mountainous area and forest cover. A must-see in Japan is its highest peak is Mt Fuji, a breathtaking sight even from afar. The sacred mountain attracts thousands of climbers every year, as do the other surrounding mountains. Skiing is big during the winter with the snow pulling in the crowds.
Getting around Japan is fairly simple with its fantastic public transport system. You can whizz in from the southernmost island to any of its gleaming cities in the comfort of a bullet train within no time. While most people have heard of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Kyoto is where you should head to experience Japan’s rich past. With over 2000 temples and shrines, a delectable platter of gastronomic delights and age-old traditions, Kyoto will have your soul.

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