Awarded ‘50 Tours of a Lifetime’ by National Geographic Traveler Magazine.
Visiting Japan can be an exhilarating experience. With a flurry of places to visit, sights to see and events to take part in, it's hard to decide what to do. You may not be able to do it all in Japan, but you can see some of the most entertaining and inspiring places the country has to offer. There are dozens of recommendations for a spectacular trip to the land of the rising sun, but we've boiled it down to a mandatory five you must take part in for the perfect Japanese adventure.
Sumo in Tokyo
Knowing about this ancient and intense sport is one thing, but seeing it performed in the arena between legendary pros and screaming fans is entirely different. For travelers lucky enough to visit Japan in January, May or September, these are the notorious tournament months. Fifteen-day events take place in Tokyo's National Sumo Hall throughout the month and you'll be stunned by the eager swarms of fans jumping to see these heavyweight titans go head-to-head for even just a few brief moments. The sumo experience is unmatched by any other sport you've ever seen.
Then again, maybe you're more interested in seeing a little Western culture play out at a picturesque park. Yoyogi Park is perfect for seeing some entertaining locals. Pulling talented artists from around the city, Yoyogi Park acts as the stomping ground for Elvis impersonators, singers, bands, hip-hop dancers, Cosplayers and more. You'll find laughter and inspiration crawling through this park. Take a stroll and see the performers. Then, rent a bike for a trip along the park's more relaxing north and west sides. Equipped with snack stands with ice cream, this is the perfect area for a midday trip.
?After some of the lively entertainment, take a serene trip to Kenrokuen. Hailed as one of the most stunning and peaceful gardens in Japan, this green and expansive terrace is nearly flawless in its design. Constructed for a royal family over a period of 200 years, this garden has been finely manicured and tediously designed down to the most minute details. A walk through this garden will leave you wholly relaxed and at ease, but don't miss out on a few brief moments of meditation, as the location is recognized as one of the best places in the world for introspection.
Soak in a Natural Hot Spring
If Kenrokuen fails to relax you, there may be no other option than a luxurious soak in one of Japan's natural hot springs. Present in various locations around the island and coupled with highly popular resorts, these hot springs are wonderfully comfortable and recommended to any visitor of Japan. Pick out a hot spring by its location, decor or by the health benefits connected to them. The bath houses that own these springs use different mineral combinations in the water that are said to soothe travelers' bodies and minds.
With numerous temples and shrines and remnants of the Imperial capital, tourists can't help but trek through the timeworn streets of Kyoto. If you're looking for authentic Japanese meals, there's no better place than Kyoto. This city is a tourist hot spot for travelers eager to indulge in traditional Japanese dishes. Then again, just seeing the historic sights and sprawling cityscape can be a surreal experience for visitors. Decades ago, U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson removed Kyoto from the list of potential targets for the atomic bomb because of his fond honeymoon memories, according to CNN.
And if the history of Japan sparks your interest, you should make sure to head across the sea for a tour of the vast and historic China countryside. Here, the delicious food and thrilling cities are almost as breathtaking as the ancient architecture. Take a trip to the Temple of Heaven or the Forbidden City to really be blown away.
As your small motorboat slides onto the sandy bank of a deserted beach and your attentive guides set up a gourmet seaside picnic, all that’s left to do is allow the turquoise waters of this remote paradise wash away your stresses.
(Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake)
Watch the sun set over Myanmar as you sip cocktails perched high on Pyathagyi pagoda and reflect on the rich cultural heritage of this mysterious region.
(Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Shanghai)
One of China's great symbols awaits - watch pandas at play in their natural habitat on this adventure through Beijing, Xian, Shanghai and Chengdu. Book this Kensington classic itinerary as is by December 1st, for travel anytime before the end of 2015, and save $1000 per couple!
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