Japan: A pocket guide

It’s not often you come across a country that blends ancient traditions and contemporary cultural habits quite as spectacularly as Japan. Archaic temples and blossoming gardens remain within the realm of tradition but sit directly alongside the modern musings of this diverse country, a surprisingly harmonious amalgamation of old and new worlds.

Beyond the neon streets of Tokyo and kitschy kawai cafés of cosmopolitan Osaka, there’s a lesser known side to Japan that’s sure to fulfill both adrenaline seekers and curious foodies: a pleasantly rural vista, steeped in natural beauty, with a scenic landscape to rival that of any other in the world.

The tranquil, snow-topped town of Niseko is most certainly worth a visit. Located on the northern island of Hokkaido, the town has become known among the adventurous ski-clad elite as the Aspen of Asia. With much to offer and little crowding, Niseko is a boldly off-route ski destination that embraces all the best elements of a European resort but with a charming twist. After an action-packed day of skiing, snowboarding, volcano trekking, or snowmobiling, slip off those snow boots and take a dip in the outdoor onsen. These natural thermal waters offer warming relief for snow-kissed noses, and are best enjoyed with a Sapporo beer in hand.

Stay north to sample some of the finest cuisine in the country. The local food, revered throughout Japan, lures world-class chefs to Hokkaido—in fact, some have been known to make the pilgrimage more than once. Take your taste buds on a trek through family-run joints and elaborate ice cream parlors to sample such exotic fare as sea urchin ice cream and the ultimate indulgence, Kobe and Wagayu beef.

Home to high-flying businessmen and entrepreneurial executives, Japan is famously exclusive and has long been a top holiday destination among a clientele of exceptional caliber. Vacation rentals and many holiday residences exude glamour, sophistication, and modern technology. A holiday in Japan is sure to excite, and perhaps surprise, every one of your senses.

Meet the Experts for Japan