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Tokyo can't be judged from the outside, since those expecting ancient monuments... more
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Tokyo
Tokyo can't be judged from the outside, since those expecting ancient monuments will instead be greeted with modern drabness. The Imperial Palace, still home to the Emperor, shouldn't be missed, and the Edo-Tokyo Museum details the city's history. Sensoji Temple is the city's oldest, and the Tokyo National Museum holds the largest collection of Japanese art in the world.
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Regardless of season, it's hard not to succumb to romance as you wander Kyoto's... more
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Kyoto
Regardless of season, it's hard not to succumb to romance as you wander Kyoto's atmospheric streets, gaze at the glimmering Kinkaku-ji Pavilion, enjoy the traditional dances of the geisha or feast at restaurants over the Kamo River. Only Rome has more World Heritage Sites than the former Japanese capital. But happily unlike Rome, Kyoto maintains its calmness and romance even among throngs of summer tourists. (Editor's note: Our list was compiled before Japan's devastating earthquake of March 11, 2011. Kyoto did not sustain major damage, but we encourage all travellers to Japan to monitor travel alerts from their government.)
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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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Nestled in the Northern Japan Alps, Hakuba is all about the winter sports. A top... more
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Hakuba-mura
Nestled in the Northern Japan Alps, Hakuba is all about the winter sports. A top ski and snowboarding destination, Hakuba has plenty of snow and nearly perfect powder. Spend the day swooshing down one of the areas 200+ trails, then end with an après ski at one of the area’s cozy pubs or cafes. Local mineral hot springs make great soaking spots for weary muscles.
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A trip to Hiroshima is best kicked off with a visit to the Hiroshima Peace... more
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Hiroshima
A trip to Hiroshima is best kicked off with a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which contains a museum, the remnants of buildings destroyed by the 1945 atomic bomb and monuments to the people killed by this nuclear attack. Understanding Hiroshima’s relatively recent devastation is key to fully appreciating its beauty and culture. Visit splendidly rebuilt historic sites like Hiroshima Castle and Shukkei-en Garden, and don’t miss the Itsukushima Shrine on the nearby island of Miyajima.
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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. In 2010, festivities are in the works to celebrate this ancient city's anniversary. "Old Japan" is still easy to spot here, from Great Buddha Hall to traditional ryokans and the serene Isuien garden. travellers rave about walking tours of Nara, particularly in the historic Naramachi merchant area.
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The proud black “crow castle” of Matsumoto keeps watch over a city that’s... more
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Matsumoto
The proud black “crow castle” of Matsumoto keeps watch over a city that’s rapidly developing into an epicenter of food and culture. Slurp noodles made from local soba or taunt your taste buds with product from the Daio Wasabi Farm. Take a soothing soak in a local hot spring or spend a few minutes in the Timepiece Museum. Classical music fans should consider a visit during the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto, founded by famed conductor Seiji Ozawa.
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Proud Kumamoto Castle is considered one of the most important of its kind.... more
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Kumamoto
Proud Kumamoto Castle is considered one of the most important of its kind. Visitors will be awed as they explore its stone curves, array of turrets, and displays of armor, weapons, and maps. Suizenji Jojuen Garden is downright cinematic, a playground of slopes and dips and trees, in a million shades of green. Cherry blossom season is a lovely time to visit.
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Take a quick ferry ride to Mount Sakurajima, a smoldering volcano, Or, if you... more
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Kagoshima
Take a quick ferry ride to Mount Sakurajima, a smoldering volcano, Or, if you prefer to view active volcanoes from a more comfortable distance, stop at one of the many lookout points around the city. (Siroyama Observatory is a good choice.) Finally, if there’s anything better than a foot bath after a long day of sightseeing, it’s a free foot bath after a long day of sightseeing… and you can enjoy one at Sakurajima Nagisa Foot Bath Park.
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One of the main attractions in Nagano is Zenkō-ji, a colorful 7th-century... more
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Nagano
One of the main attractions in Nagano is Zenkō-ji, a colorful 7th-century Buddhist temple with proud architecture and a humbling presence. The compound contains lovely gardens, a treasure house, sacred statues and a massive incense burner. Kids will love the “ancient” appeal of the Chausuyama Dinosaur Park, adjacent to the Nagano Chausuyama Zoo. Test your stealth skills at the Chibikko Ninja Village, then reward your hard work with a tasting tour at the Nishi-no-Mon sake brewery.
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