Elegant. Resilient. Exceptional.
The largest island in the Japanese archipelago, Honshu is the nation’s geographic and cultural capital, offering everything from snowy peaks to contemporary cities and traditional towns.
Tokyo’s central commercial center, Shinjuku is modern Japan boiled down to its essence. Stroll through the world’s busiest train station, through high-end department stores and past ramen shops, small shrines and public video screens.
A people-watcher’s dream, this trendy district pulses with the latest in Japanese pop culture. Omotesando Avenue, with its abundant boutiques and bistros makes for a pleasant wander. Don’t miss Meiji-jingu shrine with it’s lovely garden that represents the best of traditional Shinto architecture.
This is the place to get a crash course in sumo wrestling. The on-site Sumo Museum is open year round, but sumo tournaments (15 days in length) only take place in January, May, and September—plan accordingly and purchase tickets in advance.
Known for its onsen (hot springs), Hakone is an ideal place to have a ryokan (traditional guesthouse) spa experience. Lake Ashinoko, guarded over by iconic Mount Fuji, is the picturesque centerpiece of this area—enjoy an afternoon cruise or stroll through the exquisite lakeside outdoor sculpture museum.
The symbol of Japan—Fuji-san (as it is respectfully known locally) takes about five hours to ascend (trail only open in July and August). Reaching the summit at sunrise is ideal, so either begin climbing the night before or spend the night at a lodge two-thirds the way up and arise at 4 am to complete the ascent.
One of the most recognizable temples in all of Japan, this iconic structure is covered entirely in shimmering gold leaf. A monk suffering from mental illness set fire to the temple in 1950, destroying much of the structure, but it has since been entirely restored.
These unique gardens at Kokedera Temple are arguably among the world’s finest. The temple and its grounds are covered with a thick carpet of 120 species of moss and with an unmistakable spiritual gravity.
If you’re visiting Japan in the spring, don’t miss the 20,000 cherry trees blossoming near Yoshino—an astounding, truly Japanese experience.
A maze of old-world streets and home to a number of quaint museums devoted to everything from local history to traditional Japanese toys, this area is the perfect place for a stroll or bike ride.
Considered one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan, the name Kenroku-en literally means “garden combining six,” referring to the six classical themes of beauty incorporated—extensiveness, quiet seclusion, human ingenuity, antique elegance, abundant water and wide prospect.
This work-a-day market is the perfect place to ogle the catch of the day or savor a snack, fresh sushi or Hokkaido’s famous boiled crab, cooked fresh to order
With a 3,000-year history, Dogo claims to be the oldest hot-spring spa in Japan. According to legend, the hot springs were discovered after a white heron healed its injured leg by soaking it in the thermal mineral waters.
Japan’s largest volcano, Mt. Aso, with its huge caldera is a natural wonder in its own right. The lush slopes are perfect for hiking and natural hot springs are abundant in the surrounding area.