Travel By Numbers: Japan
The spring blossom is turning this nation of islands a shade of pink. Sophie Lam cherry picks where to see it at its best
Saturday 27 March 2010
The approximate number of cherry blossom trees in Ueno Park, Tokyo. This is one of the busiest spots for Hanami, the ancient blossom-viewing festival, with crowds of visitors, food stalls and lights illuminating the trees at night. The park is also home to countless galleries and museums, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Science Museum and the Tokyo National Museum, where the garden is opened especially for spring until 18 April. tnm.go.jp
The average height, in metres of a "room" in a capsule hotel. The coffin-like capsules have provided a solution for mass accommodation in space-constrained cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto since the 1980s. Many are men-only (ear plugs are advisable), but Japan's latest and most luxurious capsule hotel, the 9 Hours in Kyoto, welcomes both sexes on segregated floors. Guests are provided with luxurious amenities and are woken silently by a specially designed light system. Capsules start at Y4,900 (£35). 9hours.jp
The average winter temperature in Celsius in Okinawa, Japan's southerly subtropical archipelago (this week, the mercury was nudging 23C). The islands are often referred to as "Japan's Hawaii" for their white sand beaches, coral reefs and limpid ocean. Magical Japan offers a 14-day "Japan and Okinawa Highlights" holiday from £2,500 per person, taking in Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Kyoto, Osaka and Okinawa Island.
The early morning hour that Tsukiji Fish Market, the world's biggest wholesale seafood trading location, opens for business in Tokyo every day. Auctions start at 5am, at which respectful tourists can observe anything from the world's most expensive caviar to tuna weighing several hundred kilograms being bought and sold. To see where some of the fish ends up, head to one of the city's sushi and sashimi restaurants, but perhaps avoid the fugu, a delicacy of pufferfish that if prepared incorrectly can be lethal. Close to Tsukiji, the conveyor belt rotates dishes of fresh sushi 24 hours a day at the Sushi Zanmai restaurant to traders, locals and tourists alike. kiyomura.co.jp/sushi-e
The number of moss phlox plants cultivated in a vast field beneath Mount Fuji. From April, the flowers create a sea of bright pink flowers (and apparently an odour that has been likened to marijuana) that prompts the start of the Fuji Shibazakura Festival on 17 April. For more information and trip ideas for Mount Fuji and central Honshu, contact the Japan National Tourist Office in London. seejapan.co.uk
The time, in minutes, it takes to travel the 550km between Tokyo and Osaka on the Shinkansen or "bullet train". All but the fastest Nozomi services are available when you purchase a Japan Rail Pass, which grants unlimited travel on the efficient rail network for periods of seven, 14 or 21 days. These must be purchased before travel through an agent such as International Rail. A seven-day pass starts at £227. internationalrail.com
The average volume, in litres, of hot water that is pumped out daily by the hot springs in Beppu. The more tepid pools, known as onsen are favoured for bathing. The city celebrates an annual onsen festival next weekend. Enjoy the springs any time of year at the eight onsen areas – Takegawara onsen also offers yukata, where you are buried to the neck in hot sand. Stay at Nogami Honkan Ryokan near Takegawara for its stylish rooms and private onsen.
The length, in kilometres of the "cherry blossom tunnel" on the riverbank in Kakunodate, northern Honshu. Known as "little Kyoto", its samurai buildings and riverbank are bordered by cherry blossom trees, or sakura, which are expected to come into bloom here around 23 April. The explosion of pink petals started in the south of Japan on 14 March and will conclude in northern Hokkaido around 3 May. Catch the final flowering with Inside Japan, which offers a tailor-made 17-night fly-drive in Hokkaido from £2,603. insidejapantours.com
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