Japan is an island country located in the Pacific Ocean. The characters that make up the name Japan, translate to “sun origin”, this is why Japan has come to be known as “The Land Of The Rising Sun”. Because Japan has over three thousand islands, this makes it an archipelago. Many of the islands are mountainous and some are volcanic, Japans highest peak, Mount Fuji is volcanic.
Japan is home to fourteen UNESCO World Heritage sites, eleven consisting of cultural heritage and three natural heritage sites. As well as being home to some very beautiful botanical gardens, Japan also has Geisha shows, aquariums, Onsen Spas and theme parks. Japan also holds world famous festivals in honor of celebrating holidays.
The Horyu-Ji Temple is in Ikaruga-cho, Nara Prefecture. It was built in the 7th century and has a main hall and five pagodas. It is one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world. The temple was added as a World Heritage site in 1993, in honor of its cultural heritage.
Himeji Castle, in Hyogo, is considered to be a Japanese national treasure, as well as being a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993. The castle was built in 1333, because of its white walls, it is called shirasagi-go (white heron castle). There are over one thousand sakura trees located on the castle grounds, making it one of the best locations to view Japanese cherry blossoms. Every year in April, the Cherry Blossom Festival is held here.
Located in Hiroshima, Japan is the Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Park. The building was formerly Hiroshima Perfectural Industrial Promotion Hall, before being destroyed in the atomic bomb in 1945. The grounds have been preserved as a memorial and reminder of the tragic history of the past. The Peace Memorial Park Ceremony is held on August 6th every year, in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Nikko, in the Tochigi Prefecture, is northeast of Tokyo. This area contains many historical sites, along with two shrines and one temple. The Toshogu Shrine was built in 1616, by Hidetata Tokugawa. The shrine contains beautiful ornate carvings done in vibrant colors and the style is reflective of Shinto-Buddhists styling. Most of the buildings here are considered national treasures or important cultural properties.
Also located in the Nikko region are the Kegon Falls. Which is one of the three greatest waterfalls in all of Japan. The falls are located near Lake Chuzenji. The water from the lake flows straight down and visitors can ride up and down the falls in glass elevators, giving them spectacular views.
No visit would be complete without visiting some beautiful, lush Japanese gardens. Koraku-en Garden is in Okayama, Japan and was built in 1700. It includes sakura., plum and Japanese maple trees, as well as a pond, stone lanterns, a noh stage and a quaint tea house. Located directly next door to the gardens is the Okayama Castle. Kenroku-en is located in Kanazawa, and has a total area of twenty-five acres. The grounds has ponds, a tea house, samurai house and much more. Kairaku-en was built in 1842 and has over three thousand plum trees. It is because of this fact, that the yearly plum festival in January and February, is held on the grounds of this lush garden.
When traveling to Japan, there are a number of four and five star accommodations that travelers will find suitable. Japan is a country that is rich in restaurants, nightlife, shopping and popular attractions. Japan is a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, similar to some of the states in the US. The ideal times to travel and enjoy Japan are July, August and September, after the rainy season has ended.