Konnichi wa! Probably the most famous two Japanese words: and the locals love it when you say hello in their language. Bowing is another polite gesture, used for almost everything from a greeting to a farewell, and a thank you as you travel throughout Japan, considered one of the most courteous and safest countries to visit in the world.
Japan is divided into a series of islands with Honshu, the most visited. Home to the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima, all conveniently linked by Japan's precise, well-organised and affordable rail system.
There are endless places to discover, boasting glistening cities where rooftop bars lure visitors to awe-inspiring views. Eat noodles from street vendors, in between excellent shopping of international labels or quirky, absurd nick-nacks.
Enjoy tropical beaches to the south, breathtaking snow-capped mountains to the north with famous ski resorts and the famed cheeky snow monkeys.
Tokyo, the capital, is the world's most populous city with a myriad of things to do. Each January, May, and September, it hosts Sumo tournaments where the big boys wrestle it out competing in Japan's national sport. A night out in Tokyo is unforgettable with so many restaurants, bars, and clubs to suit all tastes
Kyoto is known as Japan's cultural heart: wander the cobbled stone streets and keep an eye out for an elusive Geisha. Visit the Inara Shrine, wander gardens, and sample great food at reasonable prices.
Hiroshima is known more for its undeniable historical dark side. It was here the first atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. The fractured Atomic Dome remains, and seeing it at night is exceptionally moving. Consider visiting the Cenotaph and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and trying the local dish of Okonomiyaki, a delicious savory pancake.
The city of Osaka boasts Abeno Harukas, the tallest skyscraper in Japan. Once you are done with the views, venture lower down to Japan's largest department store, flaunting the latest and greatest from fashion to electronics at excellent prices. Dotonbori is called the Bright Heart of Osaka. With its towering buildings cloaked in extravagant neon signage and the enormous number of restaurants and bars that run either side of the Dotonbori Canal, it's a must night out while in town. Castles, some adorned in gold, showcase Japan's cultural past.
And we haven't touched on the city of Kobe, the best places for sipping sake, Miyajima Island with its floating tori gate and deer or which side of the escalator you should stand on.
Best Time to Visit Japan
Any time of the year is a perfect time to visit Japan. Spring is cherry blossom season; summer, while hot and humid, is the season for festivals and enjoying a cold beverage on a rooftop bar. Autumn brings breathtaking colours as the leaves change, and winter draws visitors from around the globe for snowboarding and skiing.