Japan's ancient traditions mix effortlessly with high-tech futurism and plenty of retro charm. Cities such as Osaka and Tokyo boast distinctive architecture and luxurious accommodation; islands such as Okinawa and Naoshima are home to incredible landscapes and unique art; and Shizuoka Province includes a chance to see and experience traditional mainland Japanese culture with the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji awaiting bold adventurers.
As we celebrate the spirit of the samurai, we've teamed up with our Global Luxury Luggage Partner Globe-Trotter to provide you with your essential guide to Japan.
Keen to discover a surprisingly subtropical side to Japan?
Japan's subtropical island chain, Okinawa, is the ideal place to get away from the hustle of much of Japan. Warm weather and clear seas attract visitors who want to learn about the unique culture and traditions of the islands, which have a distinctly Polynesian flavour. Incredible natural landscapes, brilliant beaches, upmarket hotels and surf dudes all come together in this unique land far from the mainland of Japan.
How can you get back to nature?
Shizuoka Province is the place where you go if you want to get to know different sides of the real Japan. Step outside of Tokyo and see cities like Shizuoka and Hamamatsu, which display typical traits of Japanese cities away from the tourists. On the coast, explore Atami. And the icing on the cake – Mount Fuji. Japan's greatest natural set piece, this mountain has attracted sightseers for centuries, with its perfect snow-capped peak. There are so many walks and forests in this region.
Where can you do some glamping in a beautiful setting?
Set around a glorious green campground, Glamping Villa Hanz Kawaguchiko comprises traditional white-walled Japanese cabins and high spec glamping accommodation. There are fires, BBQs, and plenty of chances to get back to nature – nearby walks, lakes and fishing and bird watching spots will allow you to wind down. Tokyo citizens love to come here to chill out.
How can you experience Japan's art islands?
Japan's Art Islands have become known globally for the proliferation of outdoor sculpture on the tiny cluster of islands, and the art galleries showing international work, like that of David Hockney. Yayoi Kusama's giant yellow pumpkin on the pier jutting out into the water on Naoshima Island is a famous symbol of this new cultural ecosystem. There's also the Benesse House art museum and boutique hotel designed by Tadao Ando. He also designed the Chichu Art Museum, another must see.
How can you hang out with the cool crowd?
Trunk is the epicentre of Tokyo's hipster scene, where fashion photo shoots happen in the morning and ad agency lunches give way to PR dinners and evening design events. Live music, DJs and the buzzing bars keep things jumping until the early hours. Foreign correspondents, travel writers, influencers, touring musicians and expat actors doing Suntory commercials stop in to eat here in the restaurants and stay in the bedrooms. If the Park Hyatt was the coolest place in the Lost In Translation era then Trunk (which now has several different locations) is the place to be seen today.
Where can you stay in style in Tokyo?
Tokyo's many attractions like the Meguro River Cherry Blossom Promenade, the Teien Metropolitan Art Museum, the Team Lab immersive digital gallery, the famous T-Site book store and the Samurai Museum are all easily accessed from The Westin. Newly refurbished, this tall tower offers sumptuous suites, stirring views and all the mod-cons you could want. Its restaurant is well regarded and it’s truly a comfortable place to stay in a full-on city.
How can you relish Japan's metabolist megastructures?
Japan's post-war modern architecture is the stuff of legend. The site of the Osaka World Expo is now a park and the Tower of The Sun from 1970 still stands as a monument to this progressive and thrilling brand of building. In Tokyo Kenzo Tange's brutalist Tokyo Cathedral has an unbelievable raw concrete interior. His stadia for the Tokyo 1964 Olympics are also concrete wonders. The Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza was pointlessly demolished last year, but a couple of dozen of the 'capsules' have been saved and are being moved into position at museums around Japan where you'll be able to experience this '70s visions of future living once more.
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