Expert travel guides and holiday advice

Japan takes the top spot on numerous travellers’ wish lists – and for very good reason. This island nation in the northwest Pacific is an endlessly intriguing blend of contrasts, from the futuristic, high-tech hubs of Tokyo and Osaka to the imperial palaces and Buddhist temples of Kyoto; from the powder-filled ski slopes of Niseko to the dramatic volcano-scape of Mount Fuji. Whether you’re looking to dip your toe into traditional hot springs by trying onsen culture, go cherry-blossom spotting, eat the world’s best sushi or check out a themed café in the capital, The Independent's travel experts have pinned down the best destinations and experiences, plus picked out the very coolest places to stay.


Japan’s sprawling capital often evokes an image of hyper-modernity, with its neon-lit skyscrapers, capsule hotels, futuristic museums, bullet trains and robot-mania. But the city is also awash with history and traditional culture: think exquisite temples, shrines and imperial palaces amid immaculate Japanese gardens. Check out our Tokyo guides for the must-try experiences and attractions to add to any trip itinerary, plus the top hotels to book, whatever your budget.


The former imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto epitomises many visitors’ impression of traditional Japanese culture. Classic Buddhist temples, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines, wooden houses and impeccably planned, tranquil gardens combine to make this one of Japan’s most enticing destinations. It’s also where you’ll find geisha, Japan’s female entertainers in traditional dress, plus kaiseki dining, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner made up of beautifully presented dishes. Read our guide to make the most of a trip and discover the best places to stay.

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