According to Mathgeneral, Japan is an East Asian state in the Pacific and comprises 6852 islands. In terms of area, Japan is the fourth largest island nation in the world. The main islands are Hokkaidō in the north, the central and largest island Honshu, and Shikoku and Kyushu in the south. Japan is 70% covered with mountains and the highest mountain in Japan is Mount Fuji, the mountain slopes are mainly used for terraced agriculture. The largest lake in Japan is Lake Biwa on Honshu, which has an area of 670 square kilometers. Japan has around 127 million inhabitants and the capital Tokyo is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Japan is the country with the highest life expectancy, which is also reflected in the old age of the population. The fauna of Japan is very species-rich and some of it can only be found there. Well-known animals include, for example the brown bear on Hokkaido and the Asiatic black bear, sika deer and the Japanese serau on Honshu. Buddhism and Shinto are the two largest religions in Japan, over 80% of the Japanese belong to them at the same time. The society is also largely ethnically and linguistically homogeneous. Japan is known as the land of the rising sun.
The Shiretoko Peninsula is located in the far east of Japan’s northernmost island, Hakkaido. It protrudes into the Sea of Okhotsk and is covered by a chain of volcanoes. The Shiretoko National Park covers most of the area. The region has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005 and is considered the most pristine and remote area of Japan. Shiretoko means something like “the end of the earth” and it is. Here you can discover natural wonders of the landscape and observe many rare animal species. In particular, 8 natural spectacles are to be visited, including 3 fascinating waterfalls. The Oshinkoshin Waterfall, also known as “Divided Beauty”, is separated in the middle by a rock. The Furepe waterfall is not created from a river, but rather from snow and ice that rises to the surface, melts and then flows down over a high cliff. The Kamui Hakka hot waterfall arises from hot springs that come from the mountains and flow over a cliff. A natural bathtub with hot water is formed at their foot. The surrounding mountain ranges are reflected in the five Shiretoko lakes. They are located in the middle of untouched dense forest and can be hiked around in just an hour. A real highlight for hikers and outdoor fans. On the coast near the port of Utoro is the Oronko rock which offers a wonderful sight. Those who would like to marvel at the peninsula from a fascinating viewpoint at 728 m should climb the Shiretoko Pass. A trip to this remote peninsula of Japan is definitely worth it.
Nikkō is a small town not far from Tokyo and is located at the entrance to the Nikko National Park of the same name. The Toshogu, one of the richly decorated shrines in Japan, is famous here. The main attraction next to many world cultural heritage sites is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. The city is not only the cultural center of Buddhism and Shinto, but is also beautifully landscaped in a mountainous area. Thus, the area is a very popular travel destination and should not be missing on any trip to Japan. The autumn colors around Lake Chuzenji in the Okunikko area, which are best observed in September / October, are also known. Another highlight is the Yumoto Onsen, a hot spring resort that invites you to relax. Numerous hiking trails and routes through the national park invite you to
Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on Miyajima Island and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. The torii, which appears to float on the water at high tide, is particularly popular for photos. The view of the gate in front of Mount Misen is one of the most famous images of Japan and should definitely be visited when traveling to Japan.
Kyoto is the cultural center of Japan and one of the most traditional cities in the country. Here you can immerse yourself in Japanese culture and history, which is why the city should not be missing on any tour of the country. Kyoto is located in the west of the Japanese main island of Honshu. In 794, Kyoto replaced the city of Nara as the capital and remained the country’s seat of government until 1868. In addition, 14 temples and Shinto shrines along with three others in the neighboring cities of Uji and Ōtsu have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1994.
One of the most popular attractions is the Kinkaku-ji Temple, better known as the “Golden Pavilion”. The Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine also leaves an impression with its size and magnificent buildings.
A stroll through Kyoto’s old town, Gion, should not be missed. Particularly worth seeing are the Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka streets, here historical houses are lined up and you might even come across a geisha. Japan’s craziness can be experienced on Yokai Street. During the cherry blossom season, Maruyama Park is an absolute must. In the west around Arashiyama you can walk through the gigantic bamboo forest or you can walk along the Philosopher’s Path, one of the most beautiful places in Kyoto. A very special temple is the Ryozen Kannon, which was built for the fallen soldiers of World War II. Other sights worth visiting are the Kyōto Gosho Imperial Palace, the Katsura Imperial Villa and the Shugakuin Villa with its great gardens.
The capital of Japan is a reflection of the craziness of the country and certainly one of the most exciting cities in the world. There is no old town in the conventional sense with the most important sights, rather Tokyo consists of 23 administrative districts and their own districts that have their very own face. You should definitely not miss the Tsukiji fish market, the great panoramic view from the observation deck of the Metropolitan Government skyscraper, as well as Asakusa, a district of Tokyo with the Senso-ji Temple and a very special flair. The Imperial Palace with its inviting gardens is ideal for a stroll. Of course, you should also try the Japanese cuisine and the delicious food and plunge into the jungle of neon neon signs at night. In a multi-day trip you can visit the symbol of Japan, Mount Fuji. The volcano has been a World Heritage Site since 2013 and is located about 2 hours southwest of Tokyo. There are a total of four hiking routes to the summit of Mount Fuji. They differ from the starting altitude, the ascent, the length, the ascent and the duration. Even for non-mountaineers, the 5-lake region at the foot of the mountain is an absolute highlight of the Japan tour.
Aso-Kuju National Park
The oldest of Japan’s 30 national parks is Aso-Kuju in the heart of Kyushus. There are wonderful hiking routes through the volcanic landscape. The Aso volcano is called “the sleeping Buddha” by the locals and is the oldest volcano on earth. It took more than 90,000 years to develop and measures 16 kilometers from east to west and 23 kilometers from north to south in the inner rim. From the Shirakawa suigen spring approx. 60 tons of spring water are extracted every minute and the water can be skimmed off directly with the provided vessels. Mount Kurodake rises above the town of Sounkyo and attracts skiers from all over the world. The flora and fauna in the national park are also worth seeing.
Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route
A real tip to get to know the spirituality and landscape of Japan is the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage. The trail runs through the Kii Mountains and is one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in the world. Main destinations are the three main shrines of Kumano – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Hayatama and Kumano Nachi Taisha. The hike can be undertaken as part of an organized small group tour with a private guide.
All major cities are connected by domestic flights and long-distance buses. This is ideal for individual travelers who would like to travel independently on their trip to Japan. Rental car trips are rather less recommended, as the roads are often congested and the ferry is needed to cross over to another island. In addition, there are few street signs and maps with Latin letters. There is also a toll on the expressways and a Japanese translation of the driver’s license is required. Public transportation is excellent and on time. Japan has one of the best rail networks in the world with connections at very regular short intervals. There are also regular ship, ferry, speedboat and air cushion connections between the Japanese islands.
Those who prefer to join an organized tour also have the opportunity to take part in a small group tour through Japan to travel to the land of the rising sun.