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The Japan Travel Specialists
Mt Fuji

Ginza, Tokyo.
Modern Tokyo has arisen from the ashes left after the bombing of WW2. Tokyo is a unique Japanese version of a 21st Century city. Modernistic skyscrapers cast shadows over ancient temples. Traditional small shops, in narrow back streets, stand near to major department stores whose windows display world famous designer goods.

Among this blend of the new with the ancient there are many places of interest. Among them are:

THE IMPERIAL PALACE. Seated in the heart of Tokyo this immense moated castle is the home of the rarely seen Royal Family. The massive castle walls and the water filled moats are as impressive as they were in the days of the Shogun. The Imperial Palace East Garden is immaculately kept and is open to the public.

The KABUKI THEATER is home to this uniquely Japanese art form. Gorgeous costumes and elaborate settings make the performances memorable even though the ancient dialogue cannot be understood even by many Japanese.

ASAKUSA KANNON TEMPLE One of the oldest temples in Tokyo famed as the home of its rarely seen Golden Goddess to whom millions of Japanese come to pray. The long street of shops leading to the Temple is the Nakamise Dori where an incredible range of tourist souvenirs and Japanese arts and crafts can be found.

HARAJUKU is the fashion district for young Japanese. It is best visited on a Sunday afternoon when the nearby Yoyogi Koen Park is closed to traffic. Young Japanese display their subcultures here. They perform everything from avant garde theatre to hard rock and punk music. To see the often weird costumes worn by youth in revolt against their ordered society is reason enough for the visit. Nearby is the Meiji Shrine to the Emperor who led Japan into the modern world.

ROPPONGI is the playground of the rich. By night it becomes the glittering disco capital of Tokyo with many noisy bars and restaurants. Tokyo Tower is nearby but is a much overrated tourist trap.

GINZA is the area with the designer label shops and designer label prices. It is the most expensive shopping area in Tokyo. It is worth a visit to stroll past the shop windows and gasp at the prices.

AKIHABARA is the famed "Electric City" where every imaginable electrical device is on display. Multi-storied department stores sell only electrical goods which get cheaper as the distance from the railway station increases. Many new electrical products not released overseas can be found here.

TSUKIJI FISH MARKET is the largest fish market in the world.Fish from every ocean in the world are sold here including some varieties not sold in other countries. It is worth a visit to see the distribution system which delivers fresh fish every day to thousands of restaurants not only in Tokyo but all over Japan.

TOKYO DISNEYLAND. If you have never been to a Disneyland this one is the most popular in the world and worth a visit. It is a near perfect replica of the Anaheim California original's rides, slides and shows

UENO PARK contains many museums and art galleries. It is famous for its cherry blossoms in April when thousands of trees burst into colour making an unforgettable display Nearby is the Ameyoko-cho Arcade a very long shopping street market selling every kind of merchandise

SHINJUKU is the commercial centre of Tokyo with skyscrapers competing for space as they dominate the skyline. Many major international companies have their headquarters here. Among the highest buildings is the Metropolitan Government Office Building. From the 45th floor there is one of the best (and free) views of the City of Tokyo. On a clear day Mount Fuji can be seen.

Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji), Kyoto
Capital of Japan for a thousand years,Kyoto is a city of countless magnificent temples. It is still the religious and cultural centre of Japan. Every visitor to Japan should visit Kyoto.

Among the many temples some of the most famous are :

KINKAKUJI ( The Golden Temple ) Completely covered with gold leaf and situated on the edge of a garden enclosed lake, this temple is so beautiful it is one of the most visited and photographed of all the Kyoto temples.

GINKAKUJI Known as The Silver Temple, even though it was never covered with silver as originally planned,it is famed for its manicured gardens and walkways

SANJUSANGENDO First built in 1164 it houses a thousand life-size multi armed images of Buddha grouped about a huge central Buddha all guarded by 28 fierce warrior statues. A famous archery festival is held here each year in January

KIYOMIZU DERA First built in 789 has a huge verandah supported on hundreds of pillars from where there is a splendid view over magnificent gardens to Kyoto. Visitors can drink from the sacred waters from the temple waterfall.

RYOANJI The most photographed raked sand and rock garden in Japan. Six hundred years ago a garden was created with 15 rocks being placed In a sea of sand enclosed by an earthen wall. The visitor is left to meditate on their meaning. For centuries people have been fascinated by this garden and have sat in quiet contemplation of its simple beauty

The PHILOSOPHER'S WALK follows a traffic free path along a canal past many traditional houses and gardens. While beautiful in any season it is most spectacular in April when the cherry trees which line the walk are in full bloom

GION This district is lined with 17th century traditional tea houses and restaurants many of which are exclusively reserved for geisha entertainment. In the early evening geishas and their apprentices can often be seen dressed in full traditional kimonos hurrying on their way to appointments

Atomic (A) Bomb Dome, Hiroshima
Totally destroyed by the Atomic bomb the city has been completely rebuilt and is now a modern and thriving metropolis built around a memorial Peace Park which is a permanent reminder of the horror of the Atomic blast.

THE PEACE PARK A visit to this park is a must for every visitor to Japan. The A Bomb Dome is left as it was immediately after the atom blast. Its twisted ruins will be left for all time as a reminder of the explosion. The A Bomb Museum contains graphic exhibits showing Hiroshima before and after the blast. A filmed presentation on giant screens shows the attack from cameras on the American planes. Hiroshima is dedicated to preventing the use of atomic weapons for all time

HIROSHIMA CASTLE was originally built in 1589 and rebuilt after being destroyed by the A Bomb. It is not one of the notable Japanese castles but it has many interesting displays using 3D laser techniques

MIYAJIMA ISLAND is a short train and ferry ride from Hiroshima. It is one of the three most beautiful islands of Japan. From the top of Mount Misen, the highest point of the island , there is a breathtaking view over the Inland Sea of Japan to the Japanese mainland. In Autumn and Spring the island is famous for the colours of the maple and cherry trees which grow wild on the island. Tame deer wander all year among the visitors

The Great Buddha, Kamakura
KAMAKURA was the capital of Japan from 1192 to 1333 when more than seventy Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines were built. Kamakura lost all importance when the capital was returned to Kyoto and became a forgotten backwater. Nowadays it is noted for its historic sites, seaside bathing beach, and residential district within commuting distance to Tokyo.

Many of the temples are close together and can be visited on foot the walking trails are well sign posted in English.

One of the major attractions is the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) which was cast in bronze and weighs 850 tonnes. Visitors can climb inside the great statue.

Engakuji Temple, a 3 minute walk from JR Kamakura Station, is one of the city's most celebrated Zen Temples. Its various buildings are arranged in a straight line, and the precints shaded by old Japanese cedars. Stone-paved steps, worn down under the tread of visitors, recall the temple's long history.

Tokeiji Temple, a 10 minute walk from Engakuji, is a Zen temple founded in 1285. It was called a "divorce temple" in feudal days, as the only place of refuge for wives mistreated by their husbands. Nowadays it is popular as a temple of flowers.

Kenchoji Temple, a 15 minute walk from Tokeiji, is foremost among the Five Great Zen Temples, and is situated in a grove of magnificent Japanese cedar trees.A bronze bell cast in 1255 is designated a national treasure. On view in the main hall is considered one of the finest examples of art in the Kamajura Period.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, a 10 minute walk from the station, ranks with the "Daibutsu" (Great Buddha) as one of Kamakura's foremost tourist attractions.

Kamakura Museum of National Treasure exhibits some 100 items of fine art, sculpture, arts and crafts, and historical documents. Buit in 1928, the museum was contructed on the model of the Shosoin in Nara, resembling a large loghouse on stilts. Open daily from 9:00am to 4:30pm. Admission is charged.

Enoshima Island is a scenic islet about 4 km in circumference. Enoshima Shrine is one of the main draws. In older times, fishermen prayed here for a good catch and sailors for a safe voyage. The island is connected to the mainland by the Benten Bridge.

Mt Fuji in Autumn
HAKONE is famous for mountain sightseeing close to Tokyo. Weather permitting extraordinary views of the Japan Alps and Mount Fuji can be seen.

Wedged between Mount Fuji and lzu Peninsula, encircled by forested mountains and deep ravines, extraordinary views (weather permitting) from Hakone of Mount Fuji and the Japan Alps are a magnificent scene to remember.

A full day can be spent enjoying the outstanding natural scenery. Travel by train to Odawara and on to the Hakone Outdoor Museum, cable car to Mount Sounzan and the volcanic activity of Owakudani continue on to Lake Ashi for a boat ride across the lake before returning to Tokyo.

Lake Ashi: The 400,000 year-old volcanic crater lake that never freezes! Ashiko is a popular place for fishing, boating and water sports. Use your "Hakone Free Pass" to cruise the lake by pirate ship. On a clear day you will be able to take pleasure in Mt. Fuji's inverted reflection.

Owakudani (Greater Boiling Valley): Accessible by ropeway this entire gorge reeks of sulphurous fumes, spewing clouds of steam from crevasses among bubbling hot springs.

Ancient Cedar Avenue: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along this superb 2km flora-lined winding passage; once the pathway to Edo (Tokyo).

Toshogu Shrine, Nikko
NIKKO is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Japan because of its splendid shrines and temples. It was a sacred site in the 8th century and the first Shogun's mausoleum was placed there in 1617. From that time his descendants built evermore elaborate shrines to the Shogunate. For three centuries the Shoguns ruled Japan. The grandeur of Nikko was intended to inspire awe and impress the visitor with the power and wealth of the Tokugawa clan. As it did so long age the Shrines of Nikko still inspire awe in the visitor.

The city of Nikko lies at the foot of Mt. Nyoho and is renowned worldwide for the architectural facilities of Toshogu and Futarasan Shrines and Rinnoji Temple, each set gemlike in a perfect natural setting. These treasures are easily located within a 30 minute walk of Nikko Station.

A 15 minute walk along Nikko Street will bring you to the lacquered Shinkyo (Sacred Bridge) which spans 28 metres across the Daiya River.

Three minutes away is the famous and historic Rinnoji Temple, used to receive princes from the Imperial family as priests during the Kamakura Period (1192-1333).

Continue walking for another 4 minutes to the Toshogo Shrine where you will find a synthesis of Buddhist and Shinto architecture featuring an impressive five-story pagoda. The Futarasan Jinja Shrine is the next stop and is said to bring happiness and marriage for those who visit. Legend has it that the Futara-Reisen, the sacred fountain there, has water that restores youth.

Kegon Falls, 97 metres in height, is one of Japan's finest waterfalls (originating from Lake Chuzenji). Descend 100 metres by elevator through the bedrock to the lookout point at the base of the gorge to see the falls plummeting downward.

Lake Chuzenji is especially beautiful in early May for its cherry blossoms and in October for its brilliant crimson foliage. The water is a beautiful indigo blue. To enjoy more of the lake's scenery a 50 minute sightseeing cruise is highly recommended. Regular boat service on the lake connects Fune-No-Eki with Shobugahama in 20 minutes. The service is suspended from December through March.

Chuzenji Onsen, on the north-eastern shore of the lake, is the centre of the Lake Chuzenji area. There are many souvenir shops, restaurants and Japanese-style inn with hot spring baths.

Hida Folk Village (Hida no Sato), Takayama
Hida / Takayama is a traditional medieval town located in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture. It is possible to walk across the centre of Hida Takayama in about 20 minutes, and most of the attractions are concentrated in the old part of town, within minutes of each other.

Enjoy a stroll around this museum-like town, dotted with attraction after attraction, including a variety of small museums devoted to traditional crafts embodying the town's long standing tradition of the fine craftsmanship.

Visit the Old private houses that lie in the area between Miyagawa River and the famously lush and picturesque Shiroyama Park. This quite residential area is replete with shops selling traditional wares, antique shops Japanese-style inns, sake breweries and restaurants serving local specialities.

Located on the banks of the Miyagawa River, Takayama Jinya Market and the Miyagawa Market are open daily from 7am to noon. Here you will find people from nearby farms selling fresh produce and flowers.

At the Hida Folk Village you will find restorations of more than 30 typical old thatched-roofed gassho-zukuri houses, relocated here from the various places around the Hida area. The site recreates the atmosphere and scenery of mountain villages of old in a beautiful mountain setting.

Take a day trip to Shirakawago. Shirakawago, a remote and mountainous region in Northern Gifu Prefecture, is famous for its old farmhouses that were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1995.

Todaiji Temple, Nara
Enjoy lunch while sitting in the picturesque Nara Park, famous for the 1200+ tame deer that roam the area. Here you will be surrounded by impressive World Heritage listed cultural assets.

Todaiji Temple, the world's largest wooden architecture, houses the "Giant Buddha" that soars 16 metres in height.

Nara-machi is an old precinct full of traditional houses, shops and tearooms in calm and pleasant surroundings, giving a good contrast to the great temples and old burial mounds.

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