Doesn’t always conform to stereotypes. There are, of course, the robot restaurants, the skyscrapers, the futuristic neon, the salarymen crowds and the edgy fashion tribes. But another world lies in wait for visitors who are happy to scratch beneath the surface of a destination that can seduce and surprise in equal measure – particularly when heading outside the capital. There are also the snow monkeys which luxuriate in mountainous hot spring onsen baths in the Japanese Alps the tiny subtropical Okinawan islands with endless white sandy beaches in the south the monasteries on sacred Mount Koya serving Buddhist cuisine the contemporary art projects scattered across the tiny fishing island Naoshima. And the list goes on. The best way to deal with this? And next, pick an escorted tour that taps specifically into your personal interests – be it culture, cycling, history, cities, cherry blossoms, snow, beaches, mountain climbing, off-the-beaten-track adventures (or simply staying in very nice hotels). The time of year should also be a determining factor.
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Japan is a nation that has long relished its four distinct seasons – as reflected not only in the weather (and most famously, its cherry blossom season – a beautiful but also very busy time of year to visit) and also the contents of most culinary dishes.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the climate is dramatically diverse between northernmost Hokkaido island (a snow and ski mecca during the winter months) and sunny southern sub-tropical Okinawa.
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Fortunately, a growing number of operators are offering increasingly high-quality Japan tours – here are ten of the best.
Japan has long enjoyed a reputation as being home to some of the world’s best trains (the shinkansen bullet train among them).
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