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Japan is rich with startling contrasts. Big cities with bright lights and high-tech gadgetry, so close to countryside villages and enclaves of historic cities where centuries-old Japanese culture continues to thrive. The frenetic pace of the one of the world’s most powerful economies, juxtaposed with the quiet reverence for natural beauty and the ancient traditions. With this fascinating mix of old and new (in fact, always the newest and the latest, if the Japanese can have their way), a visit to Japan will always be surprising and ever so stimulating.$cruiseEngineId=1

Beppu

Beppu was founded on April 1, 1924, and is famous for its onsen (hot springs), which are regarded as sacred. Beppu is Japan's onsen capital. It has the second largest volume of hot water in the world after Yellowstone in the United States and has the largest number of hot spring sources in Japan.

Beppu contains nine major geothermal hot spots, which are sometimes referred to as the "nine hells of Beppu". Beppu is also divided into eight major hot spring areas, listed below and known as Beppu Hatto.

Fukuoka

Fukuoka (Foo-koo-oh-ka), one of the world’s most livable cities according to The Economist, is praised for its green spaces in a metropolitan setting. It’s a cosmopolitan centre with all the shopping, dining, sports and culture you can imagine.

Attractions
  • The Hakata Machiya Folk Museum features a 150-year old home filled with authentic everyday objects, and artisans creating the famed Hakata-ori cloth, used for kimono (obi) sashes and sumo loincloths.
  • Canal City Hakata, a massive shopping and entertainment complex wrapped around a man-made canal featuring huge jets of water.
  • Naka River in Nakasu, Western Japan's largest entertainment district.
  • Fukuoka Castle in Ohori-Koen Park, with its fascinating ruins and amazing hilltop views.
  • Traditional Japanese shrines and temples in the Hakata Ward, including Shofukuji Temple, Tochoji Temple and the Kushida Shrine.
  • Fukuoka Dome, home of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and one of the world's most innovative baseball stadiums - with 48,000 seats, a retractable roof and the world's longest bar with over 600 feet of whistle-whetting bliss!
  • Fresh ramen noodles, for which Fukuoka is known to have the best of throughout Japan.

Hakodate

Located in the southwest of Hokkaido and facing the Tsugaru Strait, Hakodate was developed as a port town for trade with foreign countries at the end of the 19th century. Hakodate seaport was originally founded as "Tomoe seaport" because of the comma (tomoe) shape of the area and was later renamed Hakodate seaport. Today, the city showcases an interesting blend of Japanese and Western architecture and many more delightful opportunities to explore its influence as a flourishing port.

Kagoshima

Kagoshima (still often referred to by its old name, Satsuma) is the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture. A city of palm trees, wide avenues and warm, mild-tempered weather, surrounded by beautiful mountain backdrops and dozens of local hot springs, Kagoshima’s symbol and dominant landmark is Sakurajima, one of Japan's most active volcanoes.

Attractions
  • Nagisa Park, a coastal park with volcanic stones. If you can, take a bus tour to see Sakurajima's more distant and more spectacular lava fields. You can also visit historic village of Chiran and the Botanical Garden for more of the city’s natural scenery.
  • A great view of the city atop the Ferris wheel in Amu Plaza, the new shopping centre beside Kagoshima Central Train Station.
  • Satsuma pottery, Kagoshima's most famous product, which has been produced for more than 380 years.

Kobe

Hugged by a beautiful bay and misty mountains, this busy harbour town is teeming with multicultural charm and one-of-a-kind urban experiences.

Attractions
  • The Kobe City Museum, packed with ancient artifacts, paintings, an enormous collection of antique maps and other artistic masterpieces.
  • The amazing Nunobiki Waterfalls and other natural attractions, just walking distance from the city.
  • Kobe Beef, the world's most flavourful steak, so tender because the cows get a rich diet of beer and regular massages!
  • A practice swing on the greens of Japan's first golf course.
  • Cherry blossoms in the springtime - an added bonus!

Kushira

Kyoto (Osaka)

Miyazaki

Miyazaki Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located on the island of Ky?sh?. The capital is the city of Miyazaki.

Nagasaki

Historically rich Nagasaki features beautiful seaside scenery and fabulous nighttime views from its mountain slopes. Secluded hot springs, fascinating museums, and ornate temples are part of this city’s fascinating mix. Ten natural parks grace the area, and unique festivals are celebrated throughout the year.

Attractions
  • Peace Park (Hirano-Machi), a monument to the Nagasaki atomic bombing, where the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum can also be found.
  • The Peiron (dragon boat) races during the summer months.

Nagoya

Nagoya's history goes back 400 years, starting with the construction of Nagoya Castle around which the city developed. Halfway between east and west, Nagoya is one of Japan’s major transport hubs, and one of its most important manufacturing and industrial cities. Nagoya also has a thriving cultural scene, with its wealth of museums, a vibrant nightlife. Intent on becoming Japan's eco-capital of the future, Nagoya also has much to offer the nature lover.

Attractions
  • The Nagoya Castle, constructed in 1612 for the ruling Tokugawa family. Today, the castle is a museum, and very popular during cherry blossom season when its many cherry trees are in full bloom.
  • Atsuta-Jingu, or the Atsuta Shrine houses several artifacts of national importance in Japan - including one of Japan’s Three Sacred Imperial Treasures, the ‘Kusanagi-no-tsurugi', a sword said to have been given to the imperial family by the goddess Amaaterasu Omikami. More than 6.5 million people visit this place each year.
  • Nagoya City Art Museum, which boasts a collection of 2,500 local and international artworks.
  • Tokugawa Art Museum, a treasure trove of Japanese art, furniture and equipment from the feudal period.
  • Nagoya Public Aquarium, which features large sea mammals like killer whales, beluga whales and dolphins, Antarctic marine life (with plenty of penguins), Australian freshwater life and tropical marine life.

Naha, Okinawa

Naha, the capital and largest city of Okinawa Prefecture, boasts a unique Japanese culture. Because Naha is the region's transportation hub, the locals have grown accustomed to openly sharing their distinctive customs with visitors from all over the world.

Attractions
  • Put Shuri Castle, a former palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom, of which Naha was the capital for four centuries – one of the most beautiful castles in Japan, and one of the city’s most important historical sites.
  • Naha's boating and fishing excursions, one of most popular tourist activities. Catch one of the famous dragon boat races during Naha Hari festival.

Osaka

Osaka is a city in the Kansai region of Japan's main island of Honsh?, the designated city under the Local Autonomy Law, the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and also the biggest part of Keihanshi Area, which is represented by three major cities of Japan, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. Located at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, Osaka is the third largest city by population after Tokyo and Yokohama.

Otaru

Due to its proximity to the steep slopes of Mt. Tengu-yama and its location on the western part of Hokkaido facing Ishikari Bay, the nostalgic town of Otaru has gained many nicknames throughout the years including "the sea entrance of Hokkaido" and "the town of hills." The town's handsome, heritage-listed Meiji-era buildings, cobblestone streets lit with oil lamps and restored canal help create an old-fashioned mood, perfect for sightseeing, day or night.

Saporro (Muroran)

Tokyo

Though one the largest, most frenetic cities in the world, Tokyo still has a lot of efficiency and charm. A study in delightful contrasts, this frenzy-filled metropolis also has tranquil bonsai tree-lined neighborhoods and some of the world's most impressive architecture. Just outside the city is a whole different world, where wooden residential homes, ancient temples, shrines and imperial gardens bear testimony to Japan's rich culture and traditions.

Attractions
  • The true heart and soul of Tokyo: Kokyo, Japan's Imperial Palace, an architectural marvel and home to the Emperor of Japan.
  • The Sensoji Temple, Tokyo's oldest, most significant Buddhist temple. Very popular with tourists, so visit early.
  • A live Sumo wrestling match - it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • Omotesando, Tokyo's leafy shopping boulevard, and the surrounding streets of Harajuku, the country's best hunting ground for the latest in cool consumer goods.

Tokyo (Yokohama)

Toyama