Japan, also known by many as the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ is a very interesting mix of past and future.  There is a long and impressive history blended with modern day advancement and technology.  When you think of Japan, also often called Nippon or Nihon, there is a mix of thoughts.  We think of Geisha girls, ancient Samurai, Samurai swords, chopsticks, shared family meals, beautiful temples and much more.  Then there is modern Japan, with its advanced and emerging technologies and of course, if you’re a skier or board rider, you know that some of the best snow occurs in Japan; soft as powder. 

There are a few interesting facts about Japan.  Up to 2023, it was thought that the country of Japan consisted of just under 7,000 islands.  However, their coastguard ‘found’ another 7,000 islands (yes, they were there, but apparently, it was hard to distinguish some islands from others, but new technologies in mapping helped in that) and now the current official count is 14,125 islands – and I believe (but please don’t quote us on this) that this count does not include any man-made islands, of which there are a small number. 

Originally, Japan was part of the eastern coast of Asia, until tectonic activity split them off and created the Sea of Japan, a mere 15 million years ago.  Now Japan sits to the East of the Koreas and the most eastern part of Russia.  Its five main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku and Okinawa.  The largest is Honshu, which is where the capital Tokyo is located.  Tokyo is the most populated city on the planet, with a population of now just under 38 million.  That is the metropolis, not the central area.  BTW, New York comes in second and Mumbai comes in third.  Japan has certainly come a long way since World War II. 

So of course, with so many people, transport can be a challenge.  The city hires people who are “transit pushers” whose job is literally to stuff bodies into subway cars during rush hour!  Another interesting thing is that there are more pets than children in Japan.  Interesting too; the majority of the Japanese population are actually Japanese; with only a small percentage being foreigners. 

Japan is well known for its glorious and perfectly maintained gardens, pergolas and scenery.  Gardens are meticulously planned and maintained and are certainly a sight to be seen.  Couple that with many waterways, and a certain famous mountain you can’t miss seeing; Mt Fuji.  In spring, the famous cherry blossoms flower and create a beautiful backdrop. 

Geisha, famous for their very intricate hairstyles and white makeup with red features, have been entertaining folks since the 18th century.  They are trained in a number of forms, including dance, singing, flutes, Japanese guitar (called a shamisen) and are well-known for their high level of hospitality. 

There is of course the Samurai, martial arts (like Karate, Aikido, Judo Kendo, Jujitsu) and then the Sumo wrestlers.  If you get the chance to watch a training session, demonstration or grading, it would be fascinating.  Remember though, if you are entering (or leaving) a Dojo, be sure to bow and never turn your back on the room, but rather back out respectfully.   

Something else which is interesting: although Japan has such a large population, it’s actually one of the safest Asian countries and heaps safer than the US.  Japan also boasts having one of the lowest murder rates in the world.  So naturally, for tourists, that makes visiting somewhat more appealing.

You’ll also want to visit the temples and Pergolas and if you’re on the main island of Honshu, then be sure to look out for Mt Fuji; Japan’s highest and most well-known mountain.  For the Buddhists, they believe this mountain is the gateway to a greater spiritual world. 

The city of Kyoto was originally the capital city of Japan.  Because of this, Kyoto has many noteworthy and historical sites, such as imperial palaces, shrines and some very spectacular and visually appealing architecture.

So, if you’re wondering about shopping and eating – well, you won’t be disappointed in Japan.  You’ll delight in fresh, nutritious dishes.  Of course, Sushi springs to mind and Miso soup.  There are udon noodle dishes, ramen and tempura dishes which is fried food.  Many of their foods include rice, noodles, vegetables, soy and fish.  Naturally, you’ll find green tea and fruits like persimmons, grapes and tangerines. 

And for shopping, there is a huge range.  You have upmarket and expensive shops, along with cheaper stores and options.  Retail staff are generally polite and helpful and the shopping experience is usually very pleasant. 

If it’s at all possible, Japan in autumn may be even more beautiful than a Canadian autumn.  The leaves are all primarily bright red and a golden yellow.  It’s absolutely gorgeous and makes for some absolutely spectacular photos.  The days are crisp and bright with a somewhat cerulean sky as a backdrop to the amazing bright red and yellow leaves. 

Another fabulous reason to travel to Japan in autumn is the weather.  It’s no longer hot and humid, nor freezing cold and snowing.  The mild conditions make visiting pleasant and easy.  In the colder months, restaurants, trains and shops are heated, so layering is smart, ensuring it’s easy to remove a coat or layer down to sit and enjoy a lovely meal.  Also, another tip is that Dojos, some restaurants and temples etc all require you to remove footwear, so slip on/off shoes make that nice and easy.  Plus, you might want to ensure you’ve had a pedicure prior to travel if you’re not wearing socks and if wearing socks, perhaps ensure they are in good nick.  As it can be cooler at night and in the early mornings, ensure you’ve got a good jacket or puffer jacket, jeans or warm pants, long sleeve tees, a scarf, gloves and a beanie.  It might be wise to have a day bag you can put your beanie etc into when it warms up.  As always with packing, plan to mix and match outfits so that you can get multiple wears out of certain items, such as jeans or trousers.  : ) 

Autumn (besides the colourful autumn leaves) also is a great time to visit Japan because there are some very popular festivals at this time.  Some of the noteworthy ones includes the ‘Jidai Matsuri’ in Kyoto, plus the ‘Takayama Autumn Festival’, the ‘Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri’, as well as the Tokyo International Film Festival.  You get to experience an extra boost of Japanese culture.  

Autumn in Japan also brings with it a varied and new range of seasonal foods, including matsutake mushrooms,  roasted sweet potato (called Yakiimo), Japanese pumpkin (called Kabocha, which is quite sweet), chestnuts and some delectable local desserts and fruits.

Japan offers so much and so much to do and see; which is one of the many reasons that we’ve put this location into our travel itinerary.  As with all trips organised by Luxury Women’s Tours, you get to travel with a fabulous group of like-minded ladies, sharing companionship and the experiences.  We curate all the best tours and ensure as always that you’re always safe and everything necessary is done for you.  We do the hard work and organising, so that you don’t have to.  You just have to ensure you’ve a current passport (with at least 6 months left on it from date of departure) and pack your bag.  Oh, and make sure you’ve lots of space on your phone (or camera) to take heaps of fabulous photos. 

If this tour or any of our other well planned tours interest you, or you have questions, please reach out to us and just ask.  We’d love to hear from you.  We create travel destinations that create memories you’ll be talking about for a long time to come. 

View our women’s group tour to Japan in November 2024 here: Japan’s Autumn Essence – A women’s group tour

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