Home to some of the world’s most stunning natural wonders and vibrant metropolises, Asia has always managed to capture the imagination of wanderlust-filled souls, thus securing a rightful spot in every traveler’s bucket list.
While there’s no shortage of captivating destinations in the region, there’s one in particular that tourists seem to keep coming back to time and time again.
After claiming the prestigious title of the fastest-growing hotspot on Earth, it was only a matter of time before Japan, East Asia’s crown jewel, set a new tourism record.
Recently, news outlets reported a new high for travel in the country – this past month was the busiest October in its history, welcoming 2.52 million visitors and surpassing 2019 numbers (the previous record-holding year) by 0.8%.
Japan’s unique appeal goes well beyond the run-of-the-mill parks and museums you’d find anywhere else in the world.
Kyoto, along with its historic temples (the iconic Kiyomizu-dera, for example, is not to be missed), shrines, and traditional tea houses, stands as a testament to Japan’s unmistakable identity.
A five-and-a-half-hour drive away, you’ll find Tokyo, Japan’s pulsating heart best known for its futuristic cityscape and remarkable technological prowess.
The skyline, dominated by landmarks like the Tokyo Skytree and the Tokyo Tower, reflects the kind of harmonious coexistence of tradition and progress that can only be truly experienced in Japan.
If you’re lucky enough to visit the stunning country in the spring, you won’t want to miss out on one of the many hanami parties hosted throughout the season, usually in parks along riverbanks (think Ueno Park in Tokyo and Maruyama Park in Kyoto).
During these events, locals and tourists alike gather to appreciate the fleeting beauty of Sakura, which, by that time of year, should have turned the local landscape into a pastel wonderland.
A Gastronomic Wonderland
Foodies don’t need convincing of the fact that Japan is a gastronomic wonder – that’s just common knowledge.
The local cuisine is renowned for its meticulous preparation and often breathtaking presentation, all of which can be witnessed from the delicate art of sushi-making to the sizzling delights of teppanyaki.
The bustling streets of Osaka, often referred to as the “Kitchen of Japan,” are the place to be for all food lovers.
Dotonbori, in particular, invites visitors to indulge in local favorites such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki.
For those seeking a more adventurous culinary experience, though, Kyoto’s kaiseki dining, a multi-course meal that showcases seasonal ingredients, provides just what you’re looking for.
Never A Dull Moment
While Japan is undoubtedly one of the most visually captivating destinations in the world, the country’s allure stretches far beyond its views.
The Japanese calendar is adorned with more festivals, cultural events, and nation-wide celebrations than you can count, and chances are that no matter the timing of your visit, you’ll be able to experience at least one or two of them.
Take this December, for example.
Those planning a trip to Japan before the year ends, have the Akibasan Fire Festival, Sekino Boroichi, Kasuga Wakamiya Onmatsuri, and the Chichibu Night Festival (just to name a few) to look forward to.
A Safe, Tranquil Atmosphere
Don’t let Japan’s lively spirit give you the wrong impression – the country is as safe and tranquil as they come.
After being named the safest destination in the world, Japan’s commitment to creating a peaceful atmosphere for visitors and locals alike has become that much more apparent.
The country consistently ranks high in global safety indexes and low in crime rates, so whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Tokyo or the serene rural landscapes of Takayama, you can fully let yourself relax and take in the moment without constantly having to worry about your surroundings.
A Well-Connected Hotspot
Japan’s robust infrastructure and world-class transportation system have undoubtedly played a pivotal role in its most recent tourism boom.
The extensive network of high-speed trains, known as shinkansen, allows visitors to get in and out of the country’s major cities with remarkable efficiency, setting the scene for a more well-rounded travel experience with plenty of sightseeing opportunities.
The cities themselves are served by punctual metro and bus systems, while local airports are constantly expanding with new flights from all over the globe.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com