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Tradition collides with pop culture in Tokyo, where you can reverently wander... more
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Tokyo
Tradition collides with pop culture in Tokyo, where you can reverently wander ancient temples before rocking out at a karaoke bar. Wake up before the sun to catch the lively fish auction at the Tsukiji Market, then refresh with a walk beneath the cherry blossom trees that line the Sumida River. Spend some time in the beautiful East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, then brush up on your Japanese history at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Don’t forget to eat as much sushi, udon noodles, and wagashi (Japanese sweets) as your belly can handle.
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The shrines and temples of Kyoto offer a rare link between modern life in the... more
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Kyoto
The shrines and temples of Kyoto offer a rare link between modern life in the city and its very ancient past. The Shimogamo Shrine dates to the 6th century and seems suspended in time, its serenity and spiritual power still palpable. Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, then see the life-sized Thousand Armed Kannon statues of Sanjūsangen-dō. Enjoy traditional geisha performances, then savor a tranquil meal at a restaurant overlooking the Kamo River.
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Home to nearly nine million and powering an economy that exceeds both Hong... more
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Osaka
Home to nearly nine million and powering an economy that exceeds both Hong Kong's and Thailand's, Osaka packs quite a punch. The confident, stylish city is a shopping hub, with fabulous restaurants and nightlife. It's an ideal base for exploring the Kansai region; Kyoto's World Heritage Sites, Nara's temple and Koya-san's eerie graves are within 90 minutes by train. Top city attractions include the aquarium, Osaka Castle, Universal Studios Japan and the futuristic Floating Garden Observatory.
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Thirteen hundred years ago, Nara (then Heiju-kyu) was the imperial capital of... more
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Nara
Thirteen hundred years ago, Nara (then Heiju-kyu) was the imperial capital of Japan. "Old Japan" is still easy to spot here, from Great Buddha Hall to traditional ryokans and the serene Isuien garden. Travelers rave about walking tours of Nara, particularly in the historic Naramachi merchant area.
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Use Shari-Cho as a base for exploring the famed lakes of Shiritoko National... more
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Shari-cho
Use Shari-Cho as a base for exploring the famed lakes of Shiritoko National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s one of the most remote and pristine areas of Japan. The views are majestic, particularly in the winter time, when you can spot impressive slabs of sea ice. Splash in Kamuiwakka Waterfall, which is fed by hot springs that spill from an active volcano.
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Takayama is famous for its fabulous spring and autumn festivals, which have been... more
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Takayama
Takayama is famous for its fabulous spring and autumn festivals, which have been held here since the 16th century and revolve around the local harvest. If you visit during festival season you’ll be treated to gorgeous wooden floats, hundreds of silk and paper lanterns, and lively puppet shows. Don’t miss the historic merchant district of Sanmachi Suji, which bustles with visitors checking out craft shops, sake breweries, and traditional buildings.
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TripAdvisor travelers say the view from Mount Inasa is fantastic. And you’ll... more
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Nagasaki
TripAdvisor travelers say the view from Mount Inasa is fantastic. And you’ll definitely want to visit Spectacles Bridge, the oldest stone arch bridge in Japan. When you see its reflection in the water, you’ll understand how it got its nickname. On a somber note, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is an unsettling but moving account of the events of August 9, 1945.
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The island of Miyako-jima is home to beautiful beaches, perfect for sunning,... more
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Miyakojima
The island of Miyako-jima is home to beautiful beaches, perfect for sunning, swimming and snorkeling. When you’re sun-spent, migrate to the Miyakojima City Tropical Plant Garden to marvel at over 1,500 species of exotic tropical plants. Toast your travel companions with Japanese shochu while you nibble on specialty soba noodles.
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The water around Ishigaki is pure blue, with white sandy beaches to soothe your... more
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Ishigaki
The water around Ishigaki is pure blue, with white sandy beaches to soothe your senses. But don't just stand on the beach and stare. Travelers recommend a ride in a glass-bottomed boat to gaze at the coral reefs and tropical fish from above.
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The resort village of Onna-Son is beloved by vacationers for its jewel-colored... more
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Onna-son
The resort village of Onna-Son is beloved by vacationers for its jewel-colored ocean, smooth sandy beaches, and vibrant coral reefs. Diving and snorkeling here is a no-brainer. The Blue Cave is a spectacular spot for exploring, and the elephant-shaped rock formation at Cape Manzamo will delight imaginative kids and grown-ups alike.
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