Modern it may be, but Japan still retains plenty of its mystical oriental charm. Our Travel Consultant Heather Barnes recently travelled to Japan and shares her experience with us:
After a long day of travelling and a disorienting time change, I found myself sitting in a comfortable transfer coach watching the skyscrapers of Osaka fly past my window. As my first introduction to Asia, Japan was like nothing I had ever seen. The sprawling urban development made my hometown of Toronto look like a village.
The driver geared down as we left the highway for the city streets and with amazement I stared at the swarms of people, vibrant lights, and abundance of street food. Our first stay, the Swissotel Osaka, had every modern amenity a person could ask for. From the luxurious robes and slippers, to the in-room Espresso machines, every detail was covered.
A night out in Osaka could be filled with drinks at a pub, karaoke, or dancing the night away at a dance club – this city has everything!
It was, then, quite the contrast when we drove five hours to our next hotel and found ourselves in the midst of lush mountains and natural hot-springs. This property was what one imagines a traditional Japanese hotel to be: floors covered in bamboo mats, tables for sitting on the floor, and beds that are pulled out and made up on the floor every evening only to be tucked away the and stored during the day. Garbed in my traditional Japanese robe, I took in the Onsen (hot-spring) experience.
These naturally occurring springs are gloriously warm and relaxing. In this same region of Japan we were able to experience many ancient shrines as well as walk the thousand year old trails walked by those making their pilgrimage to the shrines. The history and tradition in the area is palpable.
Our time in Japan was rounded out with a stop in Kyoto. Again, the perfect example of technology and development; Kyoto also readily displays Japanese traditions in the Gion area, the district of Geishas. In this beautiful area immaculate cobblestone streets are lined with Tea Houses where traditional Japanese hospitality is practiced by the Geishas; taking part in one of these ceremonies is a must for any visitor to the region.
Japan is the perfect destination for the traveller looking to experience both modern amenities and ancient traditions. With unrivaled hospitality, natural beauty, hot springs for pampering and city streets for shopping Japan has it all!