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    Kyushu

    Japan is truly a destination for all seasons, with lots of bright clear days in winter and excellent skiing in the Japan Alps and the northernmost island of Hokkaido. In spring the famous cherry blossom trees line city streets, adorn temples and grow wild on hillsides and there’s a festive atmosphere as the Japanese have ‘o-hanami’ gatherings under the boughs. In summer you can fly to the tropical Okinawan islands, or escape the heat in the Japan Alps dotted with charming hot spring towns and natural beauty spots like Kamikochi mountain plateau. Then in the autumn, red and gold leaves fringe lakesides, boulevards and mountain bus rides, enriching an experience already full of historic, natural and ultra-modern vistas.

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    Aomori

    Aomori grew as a port town serving the northernmost island of Hokkaido before the Seikan undersea tunnel opened in 1988....

    Hagi

    This little gem of a town is three hours' ride across to the north sea coast from Hiroshima, but it's...

    Hakone

    Just west of Tokyo lies Hakone in the foothills of Mt Fuji, where you have some of the best chances...

    Izu Peninsula

    One of Japan’s most scenic coastal train rides, is down the rugged Izu Peninsula just south-west of Tokyo. It’s ideal...

    Kaga Onsen

    Kaga station, between Kyoto and Kanazawa, is the jump-off point for a number of little historic hot spring towns and...

    Kamikochi

    This mountain plateau high up in the Japan Alps is only accessible in the milder months, and is one of...

    Kanazawa

    Various places lay claim to being ‘little Kyoto’, but amongst them Kanazawa stands out for the variety of its original...

    Karuizawa

    Located at one end of Japan’s ‘romantic road’ that winds through the mountains to Nikko, Karuizawa is a favourite weekend...

    Kinosaki

    If we had to pick one hot spring town from the dozens throughout Japan, it would be Kinosaki. This little...

    Kumamoto

    Towards the end of the bullet train track on the southern island of Kyushu is Kumamoto, where one of Japan’s...

    Kurashiki

    This small town's 'Bikan' historical quarter is just half a dozen preserved streets around a picturesque willow-lined canal, but it...

    Kyoto & Nara

    The cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto was mercifully spared in the Second World War so most of its great temples,...

    Matsue

    Well off the bullet train line on the north coast of western Honshu is Matsue, home of perhaps the most...

    Matsumoto

    For castle enthusiasts, Matsumoto is a must see. Lying two and a half hours’ train ride north of Tokyo up...

    Nagasaki

    This port city on the southern island of Kyushu was one of the first to open up to western trade,...

    Naoshima

    For contemporary art lovers, Naoshima is one of the most talked about immersive experiences in the world. Modern art museums,...

    Nasu

    The Nasu highlands are part of a 2000m high mountain plateau that centres on volcanic Nasudake, with well-loved hot spring...

    Nikko

    The ornate Chinese-influenced shrines of the Tokugawa Shoguns lie hidden in amongst temples in the forests of Nikko north of...

    Niseko

    Niseko on the northernmost island of Hokkiado is Japan's premier skiing destination. As well as having some of the most...

    Noto Peninsula

    If you want to get well off the beaten track, the Noto Peninsula is for you. Along the 200km coastal...

    Nyuto Onsen

    Seekers of the finest hot springs in Japan invariably have Nyuto Onsen in their top three. For three hundred years...

    Osaka

    Osaka locals have their own dialect and are perhaps a bit brasher than Tokyoites, so a night in the bars...

    Sendai

    Sendai itself is a pleasant modern city and makes a great base for exploration of the Tohoku region. Zuihoden, the...

    Shirakawago

    One of Japan’s most picturesque spots, the ‘gassho-zukkuri’ traditional triangular houses are best seen en route from Kanazawa to Takayama,...

    Takayama

    This small traditional mountain town is a favourite amongst Japanese and Western visitors alike. Lacquerware and other handmade gifts are...

    Tokyo

    The ultimate metropolis, Tokyo has reinvented itself as one of the world's most exciting and energizing cities. It is a...

    Tsumago

    The old paved street of Tsumago is lined by traditional wooden buildings and a preservation order keeps the hamlet mercifully...

    Tsuwano

    A favourite of Japanese tourists but rarely visited by westerners, Tsuwano is a great day trip from Hiroshima. En route...

    Yaeyama Islands

    At the southernmost end of the 1,000 km Okinawa island chain lies the Yaeyama group. The largest island, Ishigaki, is...

    Yudanaka

    If visiting the Japan Alps in the winter months then the snow monkeys are a must-see, and even in the...

    Yakushima

    Yakushima island lies just off the southern tip of Kyushu, but has an entirely different rainy climate that has led...

    Kagoshima

    Right down at the tip of Kyushu - the southernmost of Japan's four main islands - is the pleasant port...

    Kurokawa

    Tucked away in the centre of the southernmost main island of Kyushu, Kurokawa is an atmospheric hideaway devoted to hot...

    Okinawa

    Okinawa island is the largest in a chain of several hundred stretching from mainland Japan almost to Taiwan. This does...

    Miyakojima

    Three of Japan's top 10 beaches (based on Tripadvisor) are here on Miyakojima, a far-flung island towards the southern end...

    Aso

    This is the world's largest volcanic caldera, and despite the regular announcements of volcanic activity there are 10,000 people living...

    Kii Peninsula

    Most first-time visitors to Japan take the bullet train straight from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka, skipping the Kii peninsula...

    Akan

    At the heart of eastern Hokkaido, Lake Akan is most well known for its giant 'marimo' giant moss balls that...