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Tokyo and Kagoshima
Cities CITIES North NORTH OF TOKYO South SOUTH OF TOKYO

Traveling Japan can be an eye-popping adventure. Visitors find it challenging to cover all of Japan, especially when the expenses limit your stay. Plan ahead, keeping in mind your length of stay. This small task can save you much frustration.

Tokyo is a practical must-see and is conveniently located in the middle of Japan's island chain. Most first-time visitors do the cities-only tour, but if you have time, venture out.

Escape the high-tech city sprawl to see traditional Japan, covered in rice fields where mountains dominate the landscape and Western influence is not as noticeable. The language barrier may infuriate you, but the beauty and tranquility of a rural town will soothe you.

CITIES

The Tokyo-Kyoto route is probably the most popular especially for Japan primers. Kyoto is in the Kansai region, which includes other impressive cities such as Osaka and Nara. Visitors should spend at least two days minimum in the cities to explore all the attractions.

Tokyo is contemporary Japan, a collision of the old and new worlds. Like other capitals such as London or Bangkok, visitors can spend a lifetime exploring this vast city. Wander through Shinjuku, home to Tokyo's busiest railway station, rowdiest entertainment quarter and some of Japan's best shopping and dining. Retreat to the calm of one of Japan's finest shrines, the Meiji-jinju Shrine. Visit the Asakusa Senso-ji Temple, probably the liveliest place of Buddhist worship in Japan. View the largest collection of Japanese art at the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno-koen Park. Enjoy a traditional kabuki performance in Ginza, an area known for its high-end shopping.

Kyoto offers sights a tourist expects in Japan - raked pebble gardens, the distinctive contours of a temple roof, the delicate step of a modern geisha. Explore the Gion district, famous for geishas and entertainment. Tour the many temples but don't feel obligated to see them all. Ginkaku-ji Temple is worth seeing but expect large crowds especially tour groups. Escape the bustle of the city and relax in Maruyama-koen Park. After discovering Kyoto, take a short train ride to Osaka and Nara for a day or two.

NORTH OF TOKYO

The vast northern part of Honshu (Japan's largest island), known as Tohoku, provides a traditional rural experience where you can enjoy the unspoiled natural scenary of Japan. But keep in mind that moving around this large area may be difficult and time-consuming. Tohoku is ideal for hiking, particularly around Mt. Bandai-san and Lake Tozawa-ko. Relax in the peaceful beauty of Kinkazan island. Stroll around Kakunodate, a small town with well-preserved samurai homes.

Hokkaido is the northernmost and second largest island of Japan. Its real beauty lies in the wilderness regions, appealling to outdoor enthusiasts interested in hiking, camping, skiiing and wildlife observation. Visit the lively city of Sapporo, home to Japan's famous Snow Festival. Explore the spectacular mountain scenes of Daisetsuzan National Park.

SOUTH OF TOKYO

Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main islands, has been an important entry point for foreign influence and culture. Kyushu's main draw is its milder climate and coastal towns.

Visitors can hike a volcano's rim at Mt. Aso and bathe in the famous hot springs of Beppu. Nagasaki is a main attraction, not only because of the atomic bomb tragedy but also for its European influence.

Visitors searching for warmer climates and fine beaches can escape to Okinawa and the southwest islands.

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