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About JapanSome information and tips about Japan

About Japan

Find inspiration for your Japan vacation, from sightseeing in the city and cultural immersion in the countryside to top picks and suggested itineraries
Arrive in Japan with a game plan. Discover the many events and festivals, temples and castles, theme parks and hot springs, beaches and outdoor activities that Japan has to offer. Whether you’re passionate about sports, an art lover, a nature enthusiast, a history buff, a foodie, or just looking to relax on a beach, the possibilities for your Japan journey are endless.

Weather, Climate and Geography

Japan’s land area stretches from the northernmost island of Hokkaido, close to Russia, to the subtropics of Okinawa. The weather varies greatly from region to region, so check the weather forecast for the areas you’ll be traveling to.

Geography
Located in East Asia, Japan is a curved-shaped archipelago with the Sea of Japan along the west coast and the Pacific Ocean along the east coast. Its closest neighbors are South Korea, Russia, and Taiwan near the southernmost Okinawan islands known as Yonaguni . Japan’s size is often compared to that of Germany and it is slightly smaller than the state of California and somewhat larger than the United Kingdom.

Japan’s land is made up of dense forest and mountainous terrain covering 70 percent of the country, held in place by the Japan Alps —the series of mountain ranges spanning the central area of the main island of Honshu. In some regions of Japan, Kyushu in particular, highly geologically active volcanoes dominate, and eruptions are common.

Along the coastlines and flat areas, you will find many of the major cities—in some cases built on reclaimed land. There are many beautiful beaches with some great surfing spots on the country’s peninsulas—the Boso Peninsula , Izu Peninsula , and Kii Peninsula among others—as well as many places to snorkel and dive. Heading further south, you will reach the subtropics of Okinawa and its outlying islands.

National parks and protected ecological zones house a range of distinctive wildlife and geographical points of interest from Akan-Mashu National Park in the wilds of Hokkaido, to the UNESCO World Heritage accredited Ogasawara Islands located 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean.

Many islands are uninhabited and nature is beginning to take some of them back in dramatic fashion—visit Tomogashima Island and its abandoned and now overgrown red-brick military buildings.

Weather through the seasons
Every season in Japan has its charms, brought by the seasonal changes in temperature and weather. Read below to learn what distinguishes each season from the rest in Japan.

Spring
A welcome break from the winter cold, spring is celebrated throughout the country with the arrival of the cherry blossoms. Starting in the south and gradually moving north, the blossoms bloom between March and May depending on your location. Cool and breezy with generally sunny skies, spring is a comfortable time to get out and explore the cities and countryside. Leading into summer, the rainy season begins in late May and early June.

Summer
Summer throughout Japan is stiflingly hot and intensely humid—make sure to keep hydrated. The beaches are packed, firework displays explode above the nation’s rivers, and street festivals are held around every corner. The mountains offer some respite from the major city cauldrons. Be aware that September brings typhoons that can thwart you travel plans.

Autumn
As the weather cools, the autumn colors light-up the countryside. Starting in the northern island of Hokkaido and traveling south, the dazzling autumn leaves blanket the country between late September and early December. Similar to spring, the fall season is perfect for outdoor exploration and a great time to taste what’s in Japan’s larder.

Winter
The ski season begins and the northern areas are covered with Japan’s peerless powder snow. Crisp and cool, the weather remains clear throughout January on the mainland—becoming a little gray and uninspiring in February. Warm up with some hot sake and a bowl of bubbling hot-pot.

Tipping in Japan

Tipping culture in Japan is a little different
If you are from a country where tipping is routinely practiced, it may come as a surprise that there is no such culture in Japan. This might be especially shocking as the standard of customer service in Japan is often regarded as the best in the world. If you are visiting bars, cafes, or restaurants, taking taxis or staying in hotels, there is simply no need to tip.

There is one case, however, when tipping might be appropriate. If you have a private guide, or interpreter—someone who is used to western practices—then they may accept a tip from you (although it is certainly not expected). If you do decide to tip, make sure to put any bills in an envelope. You can buy these at convenience stores or 100 yen shops.


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