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Often referred to as the jewel of South East Asia, Japan continues to attract millions of tourists from all walks of life each and every year. This island nation is separated from the Chinese mainland by the aptly named Sea of Japan and it is currently home to 127 million inhabitants. Known to some as the Land of the Rising Sun, the biodiversity and the unique climates that characterise this nation are amazing and unforgettable. If you are planning a visit here, what should you take into account and what are the main sights to witness during your stay? Let's take a closer look.
Due to the sheer length of this island, there are no fewer than nine ecological regions in terms of climate, rainfall and temperature. Massive pine forests dominate the northern portion of the country while more southern regions can feel almost tropical during the summer months. In the same respect, rugged northern beaches give way to the smooth sands found within southern Japan. As Japan is a seismologically active region, the centre of the island is defined by a series of mountain ranges. Some villages have existed here for thousands of years remaining relatively unchanged. Exploring these central regions is a great way to get a taste for the traditional culture of this nation.
Tokyo is by far the largest and most well-known city in Japan. Nine million residents live within its central confines while it is estimated that a total of 13 million can be found throughout the greater metropolitan area. Having grown immensely since the end of World War Two, this city is now home to some of the largest companies in the world. It continues to enjoy economic prosperity and as the city is quite international, you will not have any issues finding your way around.
Yokohama takes the second spot within our list. With a population of approximately 3.5 million residents, this city is a major trading hub due to its natural port and its location on the coast of Japan. Some unique sights to experience during your visit here include Yokohama Chinatown, a large docked ship known as the Minato Mirai and the Yokohama Marine Tower.
Osaka is found in the southern portion of the country is it has often been referred to as the nation's “kitchen” due to the amount of foods produced here. It is the third largest city within Japan and it is home to sights such as the Umeda Sky Building as well as famous Osaka Castle.
Besides the major metropolitan areas, what else does Japan have to offer? If you are looking for a truly iconic view, Mount Fuji is your best bet. This inactive volcano towers above nearby villages and due to its sheer height, its top remains covered in snow throughout the year. There are many guided tours which can take you to its summit although there is no need to climb the entire structure to appreciate the natural beauty to be found here.
The Samurai Kembu Theatre is another popular attraction. Found within Tokyo, this theatre displays the traditions of the ancient samurai culture. However, there is much more in store than merely swordplay. You can also see how tea is made and even interact with other participants.
If you hope to spend a day relaxing with the family, head over to Kenrokuen Garden (located within the province of Kanazawa). This is an historic garden and the sense of peace to be found here is in stark contrast when compared to the glittering lights of the major cities. Countless lakes and foot paths are interspersed throughout this park and it is open the entire year.
Of course, these are only a handful of sights to be found throughout the country. Before you arrive, be sure to exchange your money at the bank as opposed to the airport. It could also help to learn a few phrases such as thank you “arigato” and please “dozo”. A bit of courtesy goes a long way here. Get ready for the experience of a lifetime when visiting this amazing country.