Introduction to Japan

Japan is a country of contrasts. When standing in neon-filled commercial hubs of Shinjuku or Shibuya it’s hard to imagine the lush scenery, verdant landscapes and zen-like retreats that make up most of the country.

Modern Japan looks ahead for its place in the world, always building, renewing and innovating, but order, ritual and ceremony are still at Japan’s heart.

Traditional Japanese martial arts, tea ceremony, flower arranging, calligraphy, culinary arts and even social interaction have grown from this sense of order and method. Look for shop assistants elaborately counting your notes or rail staff solemnly checking the platform before departure to see that ceremony is second nature and influences almost every aspect of the culture.

The nation maintains its connection to nature and ceremony through its temples, art, traditions, seasonal festivals and a great enthusiasm for its fresh, local food. The country only opened its doors to trade in the mid-19th century and since then has been absorbing foreign influence at a rapid pace. However there remains a traditional spirit in all aspects of life; each time you visit will be a little different but it will always be uniquely Japanese.