Japan is a fabulous destination to visit at any time of year, but it's at its prettiest in the springtime. Cherry blossom season really is a sight to behold; a truly magical event featuring a sea of trees awash with pastel blooms that haze the whole country in a soft pink splendor.
Why not explore this fascinating country and experience beautiful blossom filled scenery, indulge in exquisite food and immerse yourself in the unique culture. It really is the trip of a lifetime.
Tokyo at its prettiest
Travel to Tokyo at end of March to the beginning of April, and you’ll hit prime time for cherry blossoms. And it’s not only the trees to enjoy. With spring in its step, this city breathes new life at this time of year. With the soft scent of blossoms in the air, shops stock pink products and decorations, and restaurants show flowery shapes and sakura-flavored sweets and drinks. There are also cherry blossom festivals to enjoy which are held in many parks and castle grounds across Japan, not just Tokyo. It’s well worth a visit to this wonderful country at this time of year.
If flowers aren’t quite your thing, then how about a beach break? Renowned for its tropical climate, white sandy beaches, and unspoilt coral reefs, Okinawa is the domestic holiday destination of choice for the Japanese. One of the main draws here is the amazing underwater world, with world class scuba and snorkelling sites. Get out and into nature with a sea snorkelling session for the chance to see some fantastic animals up close and personal in their natural habitat. Afterwards, discover the local cuisine, thought to be one of the reasons why there are so many centenarians in Okinawa. Also known as Ryūkyūan cuisine, a nod to the region’s historical past, a main staple is the vibrant purple sweet potato - try it in a beni imo tart. There’s also Goya Champuru, a stir-fried dish of bitter melon, tofu, egg, and pork belly. Then, after all your adventures during the day, simply relax and watch the sun set over the ocean waves. Perfect.
Less relaxing, more shopping? No problem! The second largest metropolitan area in Japan has just as much to see as its bigger brother Tokyo. Explore the castle and its grounds, carry out some retail therapy on Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street, or simply get lost in the neon lights of the Dōtonbori District and hop along the almost unlimited street food stalls, bars, and restaurants. Stay right in the heart of the city to feel the fast pace of life, then hire a car and head out to Yoshino, regularly awarded the best cherry blossom in Japan, just an hour’s drive away for a more relaxing afternoon. Climb the trail up Mount Yoshino for the perfect view of the over 30,000 trees as you breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Bathing in Beppu
Famous for its onsen (hot springs), Beppu is the spot in Japan for total rest and relaxation. Split into 8 major hot spring locations, called Beppu Hattō, and multiple baths at each location, travellers are spoiled for choice when looking for a place to soak and relax. There are strict procedures in place for guests, on things such as what you can wear and the process of visiting a bath, so make sure you read up on the rules prior to a visit. However, once you’re aware of the local customs, you’re free to soak to your heart’s content. There are also some fantastic tours to experience, perfect for local knowledge on where the best baths are, where to get the best pictures, and to learn more of the history of this unique city.
A city steeped in a truly unique history. A walk through the Nagasaki Peace Park is essential for those interested in history, as is a sobering visit to the Atomic Bomb Museum to fully experience and learn about this dark chapter in the city’s past. But Nagasaki is so much more than just this part of its history. As the only port open to the foreigners during the two centuries of national seclusion, it is a location unique to Japan. An influence of the trade that flowed through this one spot can be seen in the popular Castella Cake, imported from Portugal and still a local favourite to this day. To see the city in all its glory, take the ropeway to the top of Mount Inasa, best seen at night for amazing display of lights. And be sure to visit one of the many shrines or temples like the Suwa shrine or Sōfuku-ji Temple, for an authentic Japanese experience.
If you can’t decide where to go first or what to include on your itinerary, then why not let someone else do the planning for you and book onto a package tour? With a package tour, you have a professional guide with all the local knowledge about the best times to visit busy attractions, the best places to eat, and the best ways to get around. Meaning no stress, just a super holiday.
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