Japan is a country that lives large in the common imagination, with its ancient temples, beautiful cherry blossom trees and tech-forward cities. Ancient culture and fast-paced modern life sit side by side in Japan, making for a rich and fascinating country that has visitors marvelling around every corner. Many people who visit Japan return again and again, so that they can experience more of what this beautiful country has to offer.
Visiting Japan as part of a cruise holiday is one of the best ways to see this eclectic country, as it allows you to experience the different cultures of its diverse regions. Incredible scenery, with exciting port days to discover the history and culture of Japan, makes the country perfect for exploring during a cruise holiday. To help you discover some of the joys that are awaiting anyone who cruises around Japan, we have produced this guide with everything you need to know about Japanese cruising.
Japan City Guides
When you think of Japan’s cities, bustling Tokyo with its busy streets and neon-lit skyscrapers probably comes straight to mind. Japan’s cities are actually widely varied, although most have a rich heritage and the ancient and modern sitting side by side is a theme throughout much of Japan. Whether you crave glittering skyscrapers, mountain ranges, ancient temples or rolling oceans, Japan has a city to suit your tastes.
To help you make sense of this huge range of cities, we’ve put together city guides to some of the best loved cruise destinations in Japan. Cruising is one of the best ways to explore this diverse country, letting you sample what each region has to offer. The guides give you a little taste of what to expect in each city, as well as a few recommendations on what to see, do, and eat during excursion days.
Neon-bright and ultra-modern, rich with heritage and dripping in cherry blossom: Tokyo is all of these things. Famed for its head-spinning pace of life and its status as one of the most tech-savvy places on earth, Tokyo is an exciting city that almost feels like being in the future. It is the most populated city on earth, but the massive streets and clever public transport make it simple to experience all that Tokyo has to offer. With its beautiful ancient temples, Michelin-starred restaurants, and bizarre vending machines that offer everything from canned bread to ramen noodles, you’ll never stop being amazed by the thrilling city.
Osaka is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan, and it’s easy to see why when you’ve spent time exploring this immersive city. A futuristic skyline of impressive modern architecture belies the delightful remnants of Edo-period Japan that are around every corner. From an alleyway that has been carefully preserved to allow you to experience the sights and sounds of imperial Japan, to the awe inspiring and impossibly modern Umeda Sky Building, this is a city that is bound to keep you guessing.
Yokohama is a fascinating city to visit, with its glittering metropolitan skyline, traditional Japanese gardens, ancient temples, and unusual array of museums. Rich culture and heritage can be clearly seen in Yokohama, showcased in beautiful old buildings and temples that date back to the days before the city had its sparkling modern veneer. Whether you’re marvelling at the city from Landmark Tower, dancing across the city with Pikachu, or sampling every type of ramen you could imagine, you’re guaranteed to have fun in Yokohama.
This lovely port city is nestled between the sea and the majestic mountain ranges behind it, giving it a unique modern skyline surrounded by natural beauty. Kobe suffered a devastating earthquake in 1995, and it’s amazing to see how this vibrant city has rebuilt and flourished in the wake of the tragedy. As famous for its outstanding culinary achievements – think Kobe beef – as it is for its status as one of Japan’s most important trade ports, Kobe has so much to explore. With fascinating museums about the maritime industry Kobe relies upon, tours of traditional sake breweries, and trips to the beautiful nature that surrounds it, this city has so much to enjoy that you won’t know where to start.
In-Depth Guides to Japan
Alongside the city-specific guides, we’ve also introduced some of Japan’s nationwide delights and cultural intrigue.
Japan’s culture and customs are as unique as they are beautiful, and it’s important to brush up your skills before you go to make sure you can return the abundant courtesy that you will always receive in Japan. From taking your shoes off before you enter someone’s home, to never whipping a handkerchief out of your sleeve and blowing your nose in public, there are lots of customs that you will need to observe if you don’t want to appear rude. Whilst lots of Japanese people speak English, it’s also good to learn a few polite words in Japanese so you can show off your manners wherever you are.
Japan is filled with many beautiful buildings, and they are often religious shrines or temples designed to foster peaceful atmospheres for prayer and contemplation. Castles that once belonged to rich and powerful rulers can also be found in many areas of Japan. All these buildings make for a fascinating insight into the changing fashions and aesthetics of the various dynasties that ruled over Japan in the past. Our infographic gives you a quick overview of some of the best places to delve into Japan’s past, and where to find them.
Japan’s beautiful cuisine is famous worldwide, but there is no better place to experience their delicious food than in the country itself. From ramen near your hotel to fine sashimi in a top restaurant, you will never have experienced anything like the explosion of flavour that waits for you in Japan. Experience sushi from chefs who had to train for three years just to make the rice properly, as well as mouth-watering treats from market vendors. There are so many wonderful dishes in Japanese cuisine, and you’ll want to try them all.
Japan’s Edo Period, which took place between 1603 and 1867, was a time of political peace and stability across the country. Edo, now known as Tokyo, was the largest city in the world at that time, and the remnants of this rich and stable period can still be seen in the city today. Much of what we think of as traditional Japanese culture comes from this time period, with museums, gardens, buildings, and customs still echoing this period of Japan’s history. Some of the best places to immerse yourself in the period can be found in Tokyo itself.
Japan isn’t the first country that comes to mind when you’re booking a paradise beach holiday, but the beautiful Okinawa in northern Japan will have you thinking differently. With acres of white sand, glittering blue oceans and stunning scenery, Okinawa has everything you could hope for in a paradise island. Lounge on the sands, discover the spectacular marine life, or trek through the lush jungles; whatever you do, be sure to refuel with some of the island’s unique and delicious cuisine.
If the above guides have got you in the mood to visit the Land of the Rising Sun, why not check out our selection of fantastic Japan cruises?