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To many the country of Japan is the epitome of all things oriental, being famous for its spectacular Zen gardens, ancient temples, colourful pagodas, torii gates, geisha girls and bonsai trees. However,
to others, Japan is known for its futuristic cities, fast bullet trains, pulsating nightlife, world-class restaurants and gleaming skyscrapers.

Japan is made up of more than 3,000 different islands within the Pacific Ocean, the biggest and most important of which are Kyushu and Shikoku to the south, Hokkaido to the north, and Honshu, covering by
far the largest space in the middle. These four islands are all connected by a series of bridges and tunnels. The island of Honshu is often referred to in Japan as the ‘Mainland’ and is approximately 1,300 km / 808 miles in length by up to 230 km / 143 miles wide, comprising the regions of Chugoku, Kansai, Chubu, Kanto and Tohoku. Each region is then split

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  • into various ‘prefectures’.

    Japanese girl in tranditional cloths
    Much of Japan is fairly mountainous, providing a pleasant backdrop for many of its cities. Mount Fuji is Japan’s tallest and most famous mountain, surrounded by lakes and located to the west of Tokyo, the bustling capital city. Tokyo is not to be missed and is Japan’s premier city, home to the Imperial Palace, the Japanese Government, many famous temples and shrines, and innumerable shopping centres. Other particularly tourist friendly cities within Japan include Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kawasaki, Kobe, Kyoto, Nagasaki, Nagoya, Osaka, Saitama, Yokohama and also the northerly city of Sapporo, where skiing is possible during the winter months.

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