A country where ancient traditions meet state-of–the–art technology, where Buddhist temples adorn most cities and where entire districts are dedicated to anime and manga. It’s an attention to detail that allows Japan to excel in everything it touches. From an uber–efficient public transport system to the immaculate outdoors and world-famous cuisine, Japan is unique and simply captivating.
Discover Tokyo under the surface with two long-term expat residents. By foot or bicycle, travel to Shimokitazawa, a neighbourhood packed with boutiques, cafes and eateries. A world away from Tokyo’s sprawling department stores, it’s a great place to pick up some unique gifts or simply wander the narrow streets. The nearby Kitazawa River Greenway is also a great place to stroll, particularly in cherry blossom season.
Once an important route connecting Tokyo and Kyoto, the Nakasendo Trail is nowadays a popular hiking spot in the Japanese Alps. Escape the crowds along the Kiso Valley and opt for the upper stretch of the trail to find family-run ‘minshuku’ guesthouses and Japanese hot baths. Intrepid hikers can follow the trail all the way down to Yokokawa town with its beautiful gorge.
Capital City: Tokyo
Population: 127 million
Language: Japanese and regional Ryukyuan languages
Currency: Japan’s official currency is the yen (¥). ATMS are widely available and the easiest way of to obtain cash. Beware not all ATMS accept non-Japanese cards; among the best ones to withdraw with foreign debit and credit cards are the machines in 7-Elevens, at post offices and Citibank ATMs. Banks and post offices exchange most major foreign currencies. Cash is still the preferred way to pay in Japan and whilst cards are increasingly accepted in cities and major establishments, bring enough cash when travelling to the countryside.
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