Japan is truly timeless, a place where ancient traditions are fused with modern life as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Japan appears exceedingly modern, but travelling around it offers numerous opportunities to connect with the country’s traditional culture.
Spend the night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), sleeping on futons and tatami mats, and padding through well-worn wooden halls to the bathhouse (or go one step further and sleep in an old farmhouse). Chant with monks or learn how to whisk bitter matcha (powdered green tea) into a froth. From the splendour of a Kyoto geisha dance to the spare beauty of a Zen rock garden, Japan has the power to enthral even the most jaded traveller.
Wherever you are in Japan, it seems, you’re never more than 500m from a great meal. Restaurants often specialise in just one dish – perhaps having spent generations perfecting it – and pay close attention to every stage, from sourcing the freshest, local ingredients to assembling the dish attractively. Moreover, you don’t have to travel far to discover that Japanese cuisine is deeply varied. The hearty hotpots of the mountains are, for example, dramatically different from the delicate sushi for which the coast is famous. It’s also intensely seasonal, meaning you can visit again at a different time of year and experience totally new tastes.