In Japan this spring, the color of money is pink. Thanks to the weak yen, Japan is suddenly affordable. Visitors from Asia and elsewhere are coming in record numbers to experience that most iconic of Japanese events, cherry blossom season.
There are some many beautiful places to see in Japan. Here are a few of the destinations that I'd like to see during my travels.
Tokyo superstores BicQlo, Shinjuku; Yodobashi Camera, Akihabara, and Don Quijote, just about anywhere in town; are big fun. They've refined the concept of 'shop 'til you drop' to the point where you can reach true retail exhaustion without ever leaving the building.
The art of alcohol distillation dates back to some of the earliest civilizations. Today, the practice continues and we highlight some of the coolest places in the world to sip on spirits while gaining an insider view on how they're made.
Ieyasu's shrine to himself and the mighty samurai class, Toshogu, was one of only a tiny number of buildings in the area that managed to survive this fierce final battle. So in-your-face reformers! Don't mess with this Shogun, even in death.
Tokyo's colorful Asakusa district is just about the luckiest place in town, with shrines and temples to the Seven Gods of Good Fortune all within walking distance.
Beautiful Meiji Shrine is already on most tour itineraries. The perfect stop before or after a ramble through Harajuku. Two very different -- but always compatible -- sides of this culture.
Traveling to Tokyo this December? Don't worry about missing out on holiday cheer. Japanese have embraced, if not the spirit, at least the traditions of the holidays with typical enthusiasm.
Tokyo is a megalopolis. If you get to a vantage point like the top of the Mori Tower, in Roppongi, the city stretches out as far as the eye can see in every direction. Only Mt. Fuji in the distance suggests that there is an end to the urban undulations.
A carefully planned urban revolution has poshed the place up over the last couple of years. New high rises, open plazas, restaurants and cafes now spread out around the station. There are almost as many places to eat as shop.
Resorts aren't all bad, but you also don't have to travel that way. Kids are more like backpackers than most adults, because they are present, and without plans. So, while you may not be strapping your backpack on your back anymore, you can, and you should, strap your kids on your back.
Long before climbing Mt. Fuji was fashionable, the holy mountain represented an arduous spiritual pilgrimage for the Japanese, climbed in straw sandals and white, wrapped robes. These days scaling the peak during the summer season is not quite the same soul-enriching zen experience.
If you have a taste for history, then stray away from museums that are flooded with tourists and navigate your way to the depths of the ocean to visit these spectacular underwater treasures.
Most travelers have a list of major sights, shrines, parks, gardens, restaurants, museums, or neighborhoods to explore. But for many, Japan's unique culture is an attraction unto itself and simply being immersed into the unfamiliar is the best experience of all.
Summer is the season Japanese go all out to celebrate their culture. Festivals are bigger, brighter and louder. Ghosts and demons come out to play too, dancing to the beat of drum and flute. The sights, sounds and colors are worth the heat.
Despite Japan's high-tech reputation, there is very little free wifi in this country. People here are obsessed with their cell phones, not computers, and access the internet accordingly.