Hakone has been a popular resort since the great warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi discovered natural hot springs in this beautiful mountainous area in the 16th century. Hakone was also a very important checkpoint sort of a feudal customs control along the old Tokaido Road during the Shogunate Edo Period. The Tokaido Road was established by the aristocratic Samurai warrior caste during the 17th century and it tied together the provinces of old Japan, from the feudal palaces and forts to bustling market centers, towns and temples. Traveled on foot by sword-wielding horsemen, pilgrims, traders, poets and peasants for over 200 years, today the road is well preserved and cedar trees line the road.
Kanazawa originated as a castle town, and today the city retains much of the flavor of those early feudal times. The prevailing practices of Noh drama, tea ceremony, and flower arranging among the citizens came about as a result of the long period of unbroken peace which their ancestors enjoyed from the 17th to 19th centuries.
In Kurashiki you will find the past is beautifully preserved and naturally blended with the new. Home to a prosperous community of rice growers in feudal times, its black-tiled rice warehouses have been converted into shops, teahouses, and museums.
Kyoto, steeped in traditions and beauty, has remained ‘relatively’ unchanged for many centuries. Kyoto was Japan’s capital for over 1,000 years and during that time became a repository of much of the best Japanese art, culture, religion and thought. Kyoto’s historic buildings and sites span centuries. Kyoto still charms visitors with its original wooden houses, ancient temples, and geishas hurrying on their way.
Kyoto by the Sea
Kyoto by the Sea is an area in the north east corner of the Kyoto prefecture that offers a wide variety of attractions centered around its natural geographic wonders. Sweeping views from the mountains to the sea can be found in areas like Amanohashidate, home of one of the "Three best Views in Japan". Shrines, temples, sandy beaches and intriguing karst rock formations are just a few of the treasures awaiting you.
The main sight of Kyushu is Nagasaki, once the only city foreigners were allowed to visit in Japan – and even then it was restricted to only the Dutch and the Chinese. While the city is still synonymous with the atomic bombings of World War 2, today Nagasak is a hub of creativity that offers much more than just its world-class memorials and museums.
Naoshima Island is one of the thousands of islands that dot the Seto Inland Sea. A world-class art project over 2 decades in the making, the buildings found at Naoshima follow the natural form of the island, with some located underground, others blending into the Earth, and some opening up to the sky. The island is fondly referred to as ‘Ando Island’, as many of the island’s remarkable structures were built by award winning architect Tadao Ando.
The first permanent capital in Japan, there are few places in the country that rival the cultural and historical splendor of Nara; like a portal to the 8th Century, this charming little city is bestrewn with some of Japan's most important temples and shrines, as well as a delightfully traditional cityscape that makes it easy to imagine what life in this region used to be like.
Once known as Japan’s main economic center, today Osaka is a large port city whose thriving nightlife, adventurous street food and cultural landmarks have made it one of the country’s most metropolitan areas.
Named after the iconic Shuzenji Temple, Shuzenji is one of Japan’s oldest and most famous hot spring resort towns; here you will find a picturesque bamboo forest, traditional shops and cafes as well as Tokko-no-yu, a popular hot spring turned foot bath that runs through the center of town.
Tokyo, originally ‘Edo’, has been the capital of Japan since 1600 AD. After 250 years of isolation from the rest of the world, Tokyo began to open its doors in the late 19th century. Tokyo’s current cityscape is the result of the rebuilding that occurred after extensive bombing during World War II destroyed much of the city. While old and new coexist harmoniously, Tokyo has come to symbolize the modern Japan, manifesting economic prosperity and worldly sophistication.