So you want to go to Japan…?

October 29, 2009

Discover Japan, the whirlwind of dazzling cultural attractions and awesome natural wonders, with this extract from Lonely Planet’s Japan guidebook, 11th edition by Chris Rowthorn et al.

First and foremost, Japan is a place of delicious contrasts: ancient temples and futuristic cities; mist-shrouded hills and lightning-fast bullet trains; kimono-clad geisha and suit-clad businesspeople; quaint thatch-roofed villages and pulsating neon urban jungles. This peculiar synthesis of the modern and the traditional is one of the things that makes travel in Japan such a fascinating experience.


Japan is all about pockets of beauty. It’s unfair to single out just a few, but here’s a list of some chart toppers.

– Cherry blossoms in Kyoto – slow pink explosions? Stationary rose-coloured clouds? The English language reveals its poverty when confronted with Kyoto’s cherry blossoms.

– Saiho-ji – is there a garden more beautiful than the one at Kyoto’s Saiho-ji temple (otherwise known as Koke-dera or ‘Moss Temple’)?

– Bamboo dancing on a hillside – you’ll see it from the shinkansen (bullet train) or when you’re hiking in the hills.

– Yaeyama-shoto – the reefs around Iriomote-jima are as colourful as a Kyoto geisha’s kimono.

– Kerama-shoto – we like our sand white, our water gin-clear and our coral colourful.

– Japan Alps – there is a sanctuary in the heart of the Japan Alps that will give any part of New Zealand a run for its money.

– Daitoku-ji – there are 24 temples and subtemples here and countless gardens; it’s pointless to pick a favourite – just go see for yourself.

This is an edited extract from Lonely Planet’s Japan guidebook, 11th edition by Chris Rowthorn et al © Lonely Planet Publications, 2009.

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