Situated in the town of Himeji, in Hyogo prefecture, Himeji-jo is promoted as Japan's most wonderful medieval castle. It is the castle to know if you only have time for one.
Usually matched to a white egret, Himeji castle perceives completely the spirit of the samurai-age architecture. Its massive stones, white plastered walls and wooden interior make it the best possible representative of all Japanese castles.
Traditional Kabuki theatre
Kabuki is a class of classic Japanese theater. Kabuki Theater is recognised for the style of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by its performers.
The kabuki stage offers a projection known as hanamichi (literally, flowery path), a walkway which integrates the audience and via which dramatic ingress and exits are made. Kabuki stages and theaters possess mechanisms more technologically sophisticated, and innovations including revolving stages and trap doors, assimilated during the 18th century, added greatly to the staging of kabuki plays.
Kanazawa's main allure, the Kenroku-en, is one of three more elegant gardens in Japan. It was established by the Maeda rulers among the 1620's and 1840's and its name alludes to the six attributes from a famed Sung-dynasty Chinese garden, namely: seclusion, spaciousness, abundance of water, broad views, artificiality and antiquity.
The bad is that Kenroku-en has a problem with its popularity, and congregations of eager tourists visit the garden almost every day. Better you should visit early (it opens from 7am, from March to mid-October, and 8pm the rest of the year) to enjoy the tranquility it deserves.
Tosho-gu shrine, Nikko
The Toshogu is the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The shrine is dedicated to the Ieyasu's spirits and two other of Japan's most authoritative historical personalities, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Minamoto Yoritomo.
The generously decorated shrine complex possesses more of a dozen Shinto and Buddhist edifices give a beautiful forest. In the beginning, Toshogu was a simple mausoleum, after; it was expanded into the prominent complex during the first half of the 17th century. To adorn the buildings, they used wood carvings and large amounts of gold leaf; the simplicity has been accentuated in shrine architecture.
Susukino nightlife, Sapporo
In the beginning started as a red light district when Sapporo was established, the area has always been open to nightlife. Today restaurants and bars exceed in number the red light establishments but there are still several of typical Japanese red light district places like hostess clubs and love hotels. Despite there being a decaying side to the area Susukino is as safe as anywhere else in Japan to visit, just evade the overpriced hostess clubs, they are more for the Japanese business man than tourists.
Dewa Sanzan means "Three Mountains of Dewa" and practically constitutes the three sacred mountains of Haguro-san, Gas-san and Yudono-san, united together in the ancient province of Dewa (modern-day Yamagata prefecture). Holy to the Japanese Shinto religion and particularly the mountain ascetic cult of Shugendo, Dewa Sanzan are a famous pilgrimage site visited by multitudes, including famed haiku poet Matsuo Basho on his Narrow Road to the Deep North. If you're lucky, you may even spot a yamabushi ascetic pilgrim blowing into a conch shell.
Tsumago is a prettily conserved post town along the old Nakasendo, a former "highway" linking Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). Most of the town's buildings date from the Edo Period when they served as lodgings and restaurants for travelers.
Nowadays, many buildings are available to the public including a museum which documents local history. Besides, a number of minshuku and ryokan once again assist travelers on the Nakasendo.
Koyasan Buddhist retreat
The sacred precinct of Koyasan, situated in the mountains above Hashimoto, Wakayama Prefecture, close to Osaka, has been a sacred point from time immemorial, made more so by the influence of the renowned priest Kobo Daishi, posthumously called Kukai, who established a religious there in the year 819. The place is a mountain redoubt, where eight peaks surround dozens of ancient temples, disposing concentric circles in the shape of a lotus blossom. In the morning and evening, mist drapes the peaks, lending a sublime atmosphere to the site.
Daisetsuzan National Park
Daisetsuzan is Hokkaido's biggest national park. It conserves a densely forested, mountainous area of practically unspoiled wilderness, which equals more than ten times the size of Osaka City. It is a paradise for excursionists, outdoor lovers, deer and brown bears.
The Enryakuji Temple was one of the more powerful temples in Japan. Based in the year 78, with mandate of the Emperor Kammu, by a Buddha priest named Saicho (762-822). The temple belonged to a family which arrived to Japan from China, after Saicho's return from a stay in China. The site of the temple, lying northeast of the city, was selected in order to ward off evil spirits coming from that direction. The raising political influence of the progressively numerous monks, however, soon tendered a threat to Kyoto, and consequently Oda Nobunaga felt it essentially to destroy the temple. Although it was rebuilt by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and enlarged by Tokugawa Iemitsu the temple never recovered any degree of secular power.