Japan is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean with dense cities, imperial palaces, mountainous national parks and thousands of shrines and temples. Shinkansen bullet trains connect the main islands of Kyushu (with Okinawa’s subtropical beaches), Honshu (home to Tokyo and Hiroshima’s atomic-bomb memorial) and Hokkaido (famous for skiing). Tokyo, the capital, is known for skyscrapers, shopping and pop culture.
In contrast to Tokyo, quieter Kyoto is famous for its Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and manicured gardens. Much of Japan’s terrain, including the symmetrical Mt. Fuji, is volcanic. Onsen (hot springs resorts featuring mineral baths) and traditional inns called ryokan, are popular. Shops throughout Japan carry trendy fashions, kimono gowns and electronics. Typical entertainment pastimes include sumo-wrestling matches, kabuki theater productions and karaoke bars. Sushi, the national dish, is served everywhere from casual pubs to gourmet restaurants.