At first glance, Japan looks quite modern, but when you're travelling around it, there are fantastic opportunities to get to know Japan's natural, historical and traditional cultures. Spend the evening in the wilderness lounging around on tatami mats and unwind in bathhouses and natural springs by day. There's the opportunity to meditate and climb steep mountains with monks and spend the afternoon drinking tea at a tea ceremony. While locals go about their day, they are happy to teach you about their traditions and won't shy away if you approach them with questions. There's so much more to Japan than the sprawl of high-rise buildings, although in their own way they are quite stunning.
Traditional apartments and budget friendly accommodation in Japan
With holiday rentals for every taste and budget, from B & B holiday rentals in one of the countries many forests, through to luxury holiday rentals in one of Japan's major cities, there is a property available for every visitor. Browse the vast selection of holiday accommodation and homestay's in Japan and secure a holiday with a difference, no matter how many guests you are travelling with, and no matter your price bracket, you can filter thousands of properties right here.
When to visit?
Summers can get extremely hot and humid in Japan. It tends to attract fewer tourists during the summer season. The months of March to May and September to November are renowned as the best times to visit Japan when there is little rainfall and temperatures are mild and not over powering. The winter months attract skiers from all over the world in their thousands.
A combination of major Japanese cities
Osaka is known as Japan's foodie capital, its relaxed and comes alive at night with food street vendors and neon-lights flashing at every turn. The capital Tokyo is full of surprises, from ancient temples and shrines, Japanese gardens, to world-class shopping, traditional bars, and cuisine that you won't be able to get enough of. Choose a holiday apartment in Tokyo and wake up in a bedroom which is only a stone's throw away from the Tokyo Skytree, where you can enjoy panormaic views of this cosmopolitan city scape. Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan with thousands of Buddhist temples, and Shinto shrines abound. It's the place to go to mingle with geisha going about their day. Do ask out of respect before you start taking photos though. Chances are they'll be happy for you to do so, but in Japan, good manners are so important. Yokohama is the second biggest city in Japan, and it's a port and industrial type city. Sapporo is particularly popular during the winter months because it snows a lot and is home to the world-famous snow sculpture festival. Have you ever seen a giant castle created from snow? Well, you will in Sapporo. These are fantastic cities enabling you to soak up different types of atmosphere. Book luxury holiday rentals in one of these remarkable cities today.
How to get there?
Japan's main airport hubs are situated close to Tokyo and Osaka (Kansai International KIX). Flights from the UK take around 11 hours from London Heathrow, and KLM has recently started a new route from London Heathrow to Amsterdam and then on to Kansai International. If you want to, you could spend the night at a apartment in Amsterdam or a holiday villa in Dubai to break up your journey. Conveniently, the major airports in Japan have train terminals within them, connecting you to everywhere in Japan. It really is a very accessible country, enabling you to be able to move around with ease. Trains are fast, efficient and on time, and there are stations everywhere across the country, but they are expensive. We suggest that if you're planning to do more than two rail journeys, you apply for a Japanese Rail Pass in the UK before you go. It's too late once you're there. You'll literally save yourself hundreds of pounds which will give you more money to put towards luxury holiday rentals in Japan.
Japan food and culture tips
You won't need to worry about finding an apartment with kitchen in some Japanese cities, as some these locations are home to the best cuisine in the world. Japan is a country where great food seems to be at every turn. Japanese love to eat, and they like to share their cultural dishes. Sushi is quite possibly the best-known dish around the world, but sashimi, which is raw fish without the rice is equally delicious. Other popular dishes include Yakitori, a dish of bite-sized cuts of chicken grilled on a skewer, pickles (plum pickles are delicious), kaiseki is small morsels of food that are eaten in traditional teahouses, udon and soba noodles and Sukiyaki comes to your table in a one-pot dish of beef, vegetables, and tofu cooked with a sweet soy sauce broth. It's still cooking when it arrives so don't expect to be able to tuck straight in.
Many restaurants are family owned and run, and they've perfected the dishes they create. Dinner is often served as you kneel or sit crossed-legged on a cushion, on the floor, and don't panic if you're a chopsticks novice. They're expecting you to ask for a knife, fork and spoon and there's no shame in it at all. If you can use chopsticks expect to be celebrated, Japanese people are very polite, friendly and hospitable and beer and copious amounts of sake (rice wine) will soon arrive at your table. Just remember to look for a holiday apartment or a hostel with wifi, where you can share your food adventures with the rest of the world.
Japan's Great Outdoors
Japan is surrounded by the sea with a dramatic and stunning coastline. It's a mostly mountainous country with plenty of hot springs. In spring and autumn, a lot of visitor's head to the mountains to hike through glorious and unspoiled natural beauty. Japan is also popular with cyclists and e-biking has also been accepted into Japanese culture. In the winter, parts of Japan such as Sapporo transform into world class ski resorts. Whatever you're looking for, Japan is paradise if you love being outdoors, but no where mixes the great outdoors with impeccable Japanese charm quite like Kyoto. Reserve a house or a villa in Kyoto, which is nestled among the verdant Japanese landscape, and wake up in a room with a view of the beautiful imperial palaces, parks and gardens which make up this organic and spacious city. If you can pull yourself away from your vacation rental, be sure to start the morning with a walk around the Kiyomizu-dera park and temple, one of Kyoto's most popular attractions, where we promise you won't be disappointed.
Japan's best-kept secret
Every one of us has heard of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that had a devastating effect along the Tohoku coastline, but what many people don't seem to realise is that the area is open for tourism today. The Michinoku Coastal Trail has recently opened from Hachinohe City to the province of Fukushima. The hiking trail runs a total of 1000 kms through four counties and 28 villages and cities, along the Pacific Ocean, mountain paths, forests and villages and cities with locals happy to tell you their stories of survival and resilience. It's the perfect destination to get a feel for local life in Japan, with bed and breakfast and cheap accommodation in the villages and cities along the route. Many visitors complete a section of the trail, but there are a few that have completed the full 1000 km. The first man to complete and mark the path did it in 97 days.