Part of what makes traveling throughout Japan so enjoyable is that the country truly is a land of contrasts. From the varying landscapes to differing cuisines from prefecture to prefecture, it would be easy to spend a lifetime exploring everything the land of the rising sun has to offer.
You only need to look at the fact that Japan spans such an impressive longitude to understand the diversity in climate and landscape. Here's an example of two separate locations I have visited in Japan during the month of February. The first photo was taken at the incredibly picturesque Okuma Beach in Okinawa, one of our favorite beachy vacation spots here.
And the other was taken on an ice-breaker ship in Monbetsu, Hokkaido.
It's hard to believe that a country can have two extreme opposite climates at the exact same time of year, but that's part of Japan's appeal. Want some warmth during winter? Head south! Trying to cool off during summer? You can venture north or head to the mountains to escape some of the stifling heat and humidity.
Japan's contrasts don't just relate to climate and landscape though. Another part of what I enjoy so much about exploring here is the beautiful mix of the old and the new. Tradition and modernity blend almost seamlessly, offering travelers the best of both worlds. You can explore temples and shrines that have thousands of years of history, and then right next door or across the street you can often find modern skyscrapers and shopping malls.
If you're a foodie, your taste buds can appreciate the contrasts from prefecture to prefecture. Regional specialties are a big thing here, and you'd often be forgiven for thinking you'd headed to a completely different country just by the delicious local eats that are unique to specific areas.
Wherever your journeys in Japan take you, the contrasts are beautifully evident - spend some time enjoying them!
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I'm an Australian who has lived abroad for almost a decade, including 7 years in Japan - specifically Tokyo and Niigata. I've visited 44 of 47 prefectures - with only Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto left to check out. I'm particularly fond of exploring off the beaten path destinations, gardens, and tea houses, and have a real interest in Japan's growing vegan scene.