Five Fab Places You Must Visit in Japan this year

POSTED BY Mavy | February 9, 2015
Label: Asia, City Breaks, Travel Tips

Japan has always been a great place to visit: the food, the culture, the scenery and the entertainment is always second to none! This year, there are 5 exciting things happening in the country and there is not better time to go visit Japan than now!

Osaka Castle turns 400 


Winter 2014 into summer 2015 marks the 400th anniversary of one of the greatest fundamental battles in feudal Japanese history – the siege of Osaka Castle. One of the most famous castles in Japan, it played a major role in the unification of the country in the 16th century when it fell to the Tokugawa Shogunate forces in 1615 – the last major armed opposition to the shogunate's establishment. There are various planned cultural festivities marking the siege, but the 3D winter illuminations projected on the castle itself (until March 31) are the most impressive.

Travel at speeds of nearly 200 mph


In March, the new Hokuriku Shinkansen line opens, providing a convenient high-speed route from Tokyo to Kanazawa and the surrounding rural coast. Kanazawa's Kenrokuen Gardens (considered by many to be one of the country's most beautiful) are well worth a visit. Traditional tea ceremonies and samurai districts also add to the charm of this attractive city, which will soon be just two and a half hours from Tokyo.

007's training camp to reopen


The finest surviving example of early 17th century Japanese castle architecture, Himeji Castle, comprising 83 buildings and advanced defence systems, was registered in 1993 as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. Many people, however, know it from the film 'You Only Live Twice' starring Sean Connery as the fictional M16 agent, James Bond. Currently being restored to its former glory, Himeji-jo will once again greet guests from March 27, surrounded by the pink glow of cherry blossom.

Appraise the art


This year sees the ancient capital of Kyoto celebrate Parasophia: International Festival of Contemporary Culture, the first large-scale world-wide exhibition of current art to be held there, from March 7 to May 10. Taking place in the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and the Museum of Kyoto, enjoy the imaginative displays from Canadian Stan Douglas, Berlin-born Nairy Baghramian and local artist Yoshimasa Ishibashi amongst others.


Or, for an outdoors event, head to the fashionable Echigo Tsumari Triennial arts festival from July 26 to September 13, set in the mountains of Niigata, in the heart of rural Japan.

Rising from the ashes

In a sequence of events that changed the world, August marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombs, which were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9). The two bombings that killed at least 129,000 people remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in human history. Nowadays, Hiroshima is an exciting, modern city full of delicious food, with picturesque Miyajima Island floating, unaffected, next door. And Nagasaki is arguably one of Japan's most beautiful cities, sitting in a natural bay and awash in history. The 70th anniversary will be marked in the usual sombre fashion, but will also showcase the positives of these two southern cities.

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