A country of extreme contrasts, Japan is both at the forefront of 21st Century modernity and retains more of its traditional practices, customs and outlooks than almost any country in the world. On the one hand, there is the super-metropolis of Tokyo, brimming with cutting-edge architecture, the archetype for high-rise living, buzzing with futuristic gadgetry, adorned with anime cartoons and one of the busiest and most vibrant places on earth. A short bullet train ride away on luxury Japan holidays is the traditional landscape of small, tidy villages, wooden houses, rice paddies and hot onsen springs. The juxtaposition is fascinating and strangely complimentary.
An archipelago of islands straddling the Pacific Ring of Fire, Japan is adorned by the deep powder snows of Hokkaido, the wildly romantic spring cherry blossom, active volcanos like Mt Aso and the tropical beaches of the southern islands. Culturally unique practises, found nowhere else, survive and flourish thanks to the native appreciation for their heritage. This is the home of sumo, the ninja, karate, the geisha, the enigmatic tea ceremony, the finest calligraphy, technically intricate cuisine such as sushi, kaiseki and tempura. On holidays in Japan, a bed for the night might be on the 80th floor of a skyscraper and the next night on a simple futon laid out on the tatami mat floor of a traditional ryokan, or even as the guests of a Zen Buddhist monastery.