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Travel Japan

I'm very lucky that my job has allowed me to travel Japan right from the frozen far north of Hokkaido to the tropical south of Okinawa. I've been to every prefecture over the last few years but even today I'm still surprised by how kind and generous people are, and by how delightfully strange and weird some places can be!


When is the best time to travel to Japan?

Japan's climate probably isn't what you think. Summer is very, very hot and very, very humid. You wake up sweaty and go to bed sweaty. I like it, but it's not for everyone.

Then in Winter it gets very, very, very cold. Hotels are usually fine as they have nice heating, but normal houses and places of work usually don't and it can often be colder inside than out.

By far the best time to travel to Japan is in the Spring ( April or May ) or Autumn ( late September or October ). Here it's nice and warm but not too muggy. But still bring a coat or t-shirt just in case things change!




Inside Japan Travel

Whichever way you look at it travel in Japan is expensive. Taxi drivers will never rip you off, but you'll always be shocked by the meter price. The trains are a good way to get around, especially the Shinkansen bullet train. I'm always using the Yahoo Japan Rail Guide to find the schedules and the trains are never late! ( Well, except when there's an earthquake!)

Airline flights can also be a good way to get around if you book in advance. All the major airlines include ANA and JAL have big discounts if you book in advance. Usually only 1 day in advance is enough. Their websites are also in English.



OK, I'm travelling to Japan, what's cool to do and see?

To be honest I'm not at all impressed with Tokyo. There's no "main street" or area, and things like the Imperial Palace don't allow visitors. The skyscrapers around Shinjuku are good, and you should visit the Asakusa street which is the one you see on TV all the time, the one full of Japanese gifts and certainly worthwhile going.

However I would highly recommend Kyoto. The city itself is a bit like Tokyo, gray and full of smog and overhead wires, but take a taxi tour round the temples and you will not be disappointed. There are a lot of them, and they are very "Japanese". I held off seeing them for ages but loved it when I first went.


If you're into skiing then you will be over joyed by the northern prefectures and Hokkaido. It is some of the best powder in the World. I was at uni in the Alps in France and it is so much better in Japan. January & February are the times to visit, and again although it is more expensive than many places in the word, things like Japanese hot springs to calm the muscles after a long day are much appreciated!

One of the best things to do in Japan, I think, is to hire a car and travel round the southern two islands of Shikoku and Kyushu. Admittedly I'm biased because I actually live in Shikoku, but I chose to come back here after seeing all the places and figuring it was the third best place in Japan. Just for the record I thought Hokkaido was the best, but it is a little too cold in Winter! And Nagano was number two, but there's no seaside.

In Kyushu & Shikoku you see the real Japan and meet the real people. Actually you can do this in any areas outside the major cities, but touring round the outside of an island is a nice adventure and it's cool to end up where you started. Kagoshima, down in Kyushu, is one of the best places in Japan to see an active volcano. October is the best time to visit Shikoku when they have their festivals.





So over all you'll really enjoy your travel to Japan. It is weird, it is expensive, but it's one of the funkiest places to visit and a holiday you'll never forget!

Be genki,

Richard




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