The Japanese call it Nippon, artists portray it as the land of the rising sun, sociolinguists see it as full of cross-cultural pitfalls for ignorant tourists, and all posh divas can't help but wonder how the geishas manage in their sky-high platform shoes. Whether or not you are attracted with the prospect of raw fish for dinner, it's worth listing this place on your traveling agenda, even if it's for the sole purpose of seeing the most fabulous cherry trees in bloom.
Comprising thousands of islands, the four largest being Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, Japan abounds in worthwhile sights. From perfectly symmetrical, wrathful Mount Fuji to the Shinto Shrine on the island of Itsukushima. From state-of-the-are cities of Tokyo or Yokohama to hot springs in Kusatsu and the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. Watch a sumo tournament in Osaka, sing karaoke and give a go to a cup of sake. Are you dizzy yet?
One thing's for sure: wherever you go, you may expect to find astounding contrasts. Bullet trains whizzle next to man-driven rikshas, kimonos are worn as readily as Armani suits, reckless industrial development remains in line with environmental protection policies, and painstaking dedication to traditions somehow balances the rapid influx of Western trends.
Speaking of culture, it is by far the most distinguishing feature of the country. Decorative ikebana, intricate origami , dramatic performances of kabuki , world-renowned manga comic strips are all integral components of this oriental blend, let alone the lengths they go to in their tea ceremony.
Now the only thing you need to do is read up on a handful of do's and don'ts. Not much in exchange for a trip like that, is it?