From cherry blossom to cutting-edge technology, and ancient shrines that lie in the shadow of shimmering skyscrapers – welcome to Japan, an island nation where past meets present head on.
Hit the ground running when you arrive in the giddy metropolis of Tokyo. The capital is home to both the futuristic Skytree, the tallest tower in the world, and the tranquil gardens of the Imperial Palace on the site of Edo Castle, which dates back to the days of Shogun rule. After exploring the art galleries and stocking up with electronics from Akihabara, board the bullet train for a day exploring Mount Fuji.
Why not venture off the beaten track and head to Kanazawa, regarded as the cultural jewel in mainland Japan? It is best known for Kenroku-en, a castle garden dating back to the 17th-century, preserved samurai districts, and temples. Hop aboard a bike and head to the village of Hida Furukawa, where you can relax with a glass of saki while admiring the snow-tipped Japanese Alps.
Check into Hidatei Hanaougi, a traditional ryokan (inn) for a peaceful night’s sleep, to prepare for tea ceremonies and the mysterious world of the geisha which awaits you in Kyoto.