The capital of Japan for a thousand years, endowed with an almost overwhelming legacy of temples, palaces and gardens, and also home to the country’s richest traditional culture and most refined cuisine.
This hyperactive Tokyo fish and produce market is the place to go for an early breakfast and the freshest sashimi and sushi in the country.
#04 Yuki Matsuri
The ancient former capital is home to the monumental bronze Buddha of Todai-ji and fine collections of religious art.
One of the best places to experience the beauty of the Inland Sea is this tranquil island, with its amazing contemporary art museums, public sculptures and installations.
Pay your respects to the A-bomb’s victims at the Peace Memorial Park and Museum in the city of Hiroshima, impressively reborn from the ashes of World War II.
Mingle with monks and pilgrims on one of Japan’s holiest mountains, home to over a hundred monasteries.
Tokyo’s National Theatre or Shimbashi Embujo are among the places where you can enjoy this most dramatic of traditional Japanese performing arts.
#10 The Kiso Valley
Indulge yourself with a meal of kaiseki-ryori, Japan’s haute cuisine, comprising a selection of beautifully prepared morsels made from the finest seasonal ingredients.
Commune with thousand-year-old cedar trees in Kirishima-Yaku National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
#13 Climb Mount Fuji
Make the tough but rewarding hike up Japan’s tallest peak, a long-dormant volcano of classic symmetrical beauty.
#14 Stay at a ryokan
Treat yourself to a night of luxury in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, where you enter a world of understated elegance and meticulous service.
#15 Awa Odori
Visit a major sumo tournament and see the titanic, ritualized clashes of Japan’s sporting giants.
#18 Kumano Kodo
Wander the ancient pilgrimage route of the “Land of the Gods”, discover sacred mountain sites, and soak in the healing waters of isolated hot springs.
Take a dip at a top onsen resort town, such as Dogo, with its magnificent bathhouse, or experience the exquisite warmth of a rotemburo (outdoor bath) as the snow falls.
#20 Sake breweries
Relive the days of the samurai at Himeji-jo, the premier example of a feudal-era fortress.
#22 Golden Gai
Stroll through Tokyo’s Kabukicho, the neon-soaked district of love hotels, host clubs and fuzoku (sex industry) businesses, to this atmospheric warren of tiny, atmospheric bars.
Nature has been tamed and primped to its most beautiful at Kanazawa’s star attraction, one of the country’s top traditional gardens.
Quaint village filled with distinctive gassho-zukuri houses, whose steep-sided thatched roofs are said to recall two hands joined in prayer.