Japan

From ancient traditions to beautiful natural surroundings to modern technology, this nation of several islands offers opportunities for endless discovery.

The country of Japan is fascinating in many ways, with highly populated cities, influential technology centers and centuries-old shrines and temples. Visit Tokyo as well as other locations for broader experiences.

Tokyo is a gleaming world capital, with neighborhoods specializing in different shopping and leisure activities. See the latest fashions in Harajuku and join crowds of tech aficionados in Akihabara.

Outside Tokyo, view Mount Fuji, a perfect snow-capped cone on the horizon. In summer, consider making the strenuous hike to reach the top to view the sunrise, as hundreds of thousands of people do annually.

Ride the Shinkansen bullet train at 200 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour) to Kyoto. Explore shrines and temples in this ancient city. Kinkakuji Temple has a golden pavilion reflecting in a quiet lake. Nearby, the Fushimi Inari Taisha honors the god of prosperity, with hundreds of red gates along a path leading to the temple.

Remember lessons from World War II with a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Atomic Bomb Dome. Consider peaceful alternatives at the beautiful red torii gates of the nearby Shinto Itsukushima Shrine.

Japanese cuisine is extremely popular across the world. While you are anywhere in the country, enjoy some of your favorite Japanese foods from their point of origin: sushi, sashimi, tempura or soba noodles. From simple ramen dishes to ultra-indulgent wagyu beef, Japanese food is practically an art form. For drinks, accompany your meal with sake or shochu. Attend a formal tea ceremony to understand centuries of tradition.

In addition to special food favorites, try iconic cultural experiences in Japan. Sing karaoke, attend a sumo match, play pachinko or watch kabuki theater. In the spring do hanami, having a picnic under the cherry trees to view the pretty pink blossoms. Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo is a top spot. In winter, attend the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido in the north to admire splendid ice sculptures. Ski in this region where the 1972 Olympics were held.