Japan

Spotlight on Japan

Japan is an intricate blend of East and West. Thus, that modern high-rise may look Western, but it may contain a rustic-looking restaurant with open charcoal grills, corporate offices, a pachinko parlor, a high-tech bar with views of Mount Fuji, a McDonald's, an acupuncture clinic, a computer showroom, and a rooftop shrine. Your pizza may come with octopus, beer gardens are likely to be fitted with Astroturf, and "parsley" refers to unmarried women older than 25 (because parsley is what's left on a plate). City police patrol on bicycles, garbage collectors attack their job with the vigor of a well-trained army, and white-gloved elevator operators, working in some of the world's swankiest department stores, bow and thank you as you exit. Because of this unique synthesis of East and West into a culture distinctly Japanese, discovering it is like peeling an onion - one layer is uncovered only to lead to more layers underneath. No matter how long you stay in Japan, constant discovery is one of the most fascinating aspects of being here.

Tokyo Huge department stores brim with shoppers, neon flashes from dusk to dawn, and the entire world pays heed to the slightest fluctuation on the Nikkei Index. From the Imperial Palace and Meiji Shrine to the fabled Ginza district, 21st-century Tokyo is an intriguing composite of East and West. Yuppies sporting iPods bow formally in greeting. Women in kimonos and Dior suits stroll side-by-side. Geishas play samisens while disc jockeys play the Top Forty. Japanese houses of wood and paper stand in the shadow of towering steel and mortar. Not far away, one of the world's most impressive sights soars 12,388 feet to its snow-clad peak: Mount Fuji, the majestic symbol of Japan.

Kyoto, as publicized in guidebooks and travel magazines, is a very special city in Japan. In Kyoto, the past still lives on in nearly 2,000 shrines and temples, six historical preservation districts and an abundance of beautiful natural scenery. Through close connections with other forms of culture such as the tea ceremony and performing arts and festivals, textile, dye, ceramics, 'sake'-brewing, fans, dolls, and lacquerware industries, which were supported by imperial, religious and political rulers throughout Kyoto's history, continue to thrive as they were passed down through generations. Kyoto's technological prowess continues to attract worldwide attention. Also, Kyoto is also known as a center of educational and research. It is therefore no surprise Kyoto became the first city in Japan to emerge as a major convention destination and continues to be unrivalled in its popularity. Kyoto has preserved and continues to develop those factors which make it the ideal convention destination: history, culture, tradition, academics, technological progress, accessibility and professional experience in conference management.

Hiroshima in southwestern Honshu has grown rapidly as a commercial city, and after 1868 it was developed as a military base. Every August 6 since 1947, thousands participate in multidenominational services in the Peace Memorial Park built on the site where the bomb exploded. After the war the city was largely rebuilt, and commercial activity gradually resumed. Visit the Peace Park but also explore Miyajima Island and its colorful shrines and mysterious forests.

OsakaThis large, bustling port is the starting point for tours to the ancient cities of Kyoto and Nara, the cultural fountainheads of classical Japan. Kyoto's Old Imperial Palace and the shogunal Nijo Castle remain glorious symbols of the power the city held for over 1,000 years. Until 1868, Kyoto was the capital of Japan, filled with elegant timber buildings and, perhaps more than any other Japanese city, imbued with Kami, the divine spirit. You'll sense it everywhere, for there are hundreds of Shinto shrines and over a thousand Buddhist temples, as well as sacred treasure-houses of religious sculpture, painting and exquisite gardens. Nara, City of the Seven Great Temples, lies in an idyllic setting.

Yokohama is located on the southern part of Honshu Island, on the western shore of Tokyo Bay, and is our gateway to Tokyo. It has excellent harbor facilities and is one of the leading ports industrial centers of Japan. There are numerous shrines, temples, and Christian churches and a number of beautiful parks. A small fishing village in 1854, Yokohama was almost totally destroyed in 1923 by an earthquake. Gradually reconstructed the city is now among the most modern in Japan. It was heavily bombed in 1945, during World War II.

 Click on the wCities link for more information on cities around the world!

...back to Destination Articles

Agents who have been to Japan...