Japan – Not what you thought it was

Experience the difference with Fare Wise Travel.

Most of us have a stereotypical view of Japan; stunning scenery, cherry blossom, bullet trains and the overpowering neon of Tokyo. Those things exist but there is so much more besides, unusual and arresting experiences unique to Japan. Japan is a year-round destination which suits both summer and winter breaks. Not as forbiddingly expensive as is commonly thought, changes in the exchange rate means it is more affordable than ever before.

Japan’s rich history and culture is the fascinating result of a country which has never been invaded or colonised and has therefore retained its purity both ancient and modern. Aomori on the northern tip of Honshu contains the fascinating archaeological site of Sannai Maryuma featuring artefacts and buildings from the Jomon Period spanning 13,000-300BC. Fast forward to the 20h Century and there is no better way to understand the Japanese psyche than to visit the Hiroshima Peace Park, the memorial to the catastrophic atomic bombing on 6th August, 1945.

In modern times, Japan’s pop culture is an unstoppable powerhouse, reaching its apex each July with Fuji Rock, the country’s number one pop festival which features a world-class line-up, immaculate campsites, woodland walkways adorned with glitter balls and alpine scenery. The country’s other-worldly techno culture can be experienced at its whacky best in a robot restaurant in Tokyo, where an hour-long robot cabaret, strobe lights, lasers and dancers in glittery bikinis deliver the distillation of Japan’s otherworldly techno culture as well as dinner. If that’s not weird enough for you, try a cat café, where Japan’s overcrowded population go to stroke the kittys they don’t have room for in their homes!

Away from the cities, Japan has gardens and natural scenery to rival any place on earth and if being outdoors is more your thing there is walking and hiking to die for. The majority of Japan’s population is squeezed into a mere 30% of the country’s landmass, leaving great swathes of mountainous and undeveloped terrain in which to free the spirit. You can cover this either or foot or take advantage of the many cycling tours on offer, everything from arduous and challenging routes to a peaceful pedal down a few backstreets.

Getting naked with strangers isn’t usually uppermost when booking your holiday, but Onsen, the practice of bathing in geothermal hot springs, is an integral part of Japanese life. A balm for mind, body and soul, bathing in an open pool surrounded by open skies, rivers and mountains is a unique way to experience the famous Japanese landscape. Or how about swimming with huge Pacific manta rays, watching as they swirl ballet-style above the coral reef? Or going underwater with hammerhead sharks and see them pin stingrays to the ocean floor with their huge rectangular heads?

For fully clothed activities you can have a private audience with a Geisha to gain insight into this famous but misunderstood world, or take a culinary class in a real Japanese home and master those delicious Japanese staples, tempura vegetables, miso soup and teriyaki chicken. This is just a small taste of the many diverse experiences which make up a trip to this fascinating and still largely misunderstood country.