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Land of the Rising Sun

Japan

Mount Yotei, Niseko, Hokkaido

Japan has to be one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world. Forests cover a total area of 62 million acres, which is equal to 67% of its land mass. And it is dotted with hills, mountains, and volcanoes. Japan is a long narrow island archipelago made up of four close-by islands. From north to south: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyusiiu; and one island to the far south Okinawa. Its total size is small at 143,619 square miles; slightly smaller than the state of California. The total population of Japan, in 2010, is around 128 million. Californian's 2010 population is around 36 million. Japan is jam-packed with people. But once you leave the big cities to travel around its small towns and countryside you would never know it.

Temple at Nikko, Tochigi

Japan not only possesses natural wonders it is filled to overflowing with Buddhist and Shinto Temples, Shogun Castles, and spa towns were one can partake in the Onsen bathing ritual. And Japan is an ultra modern place. Tokyo has a population of 35 million people; making it a very exciting and vibrant metropolis. It has it all from the Emperor's Place to the very odd Maid Cafes; and everything in between. If you like good food you will really enjoy Japan. You will experience new heights of culinary delight and foods you have never seen before.

Ground Zero, Hiroshima

The plumbing is also something to experience. It seems that Japan has a long history of cleanliness and luxuriating. This is apparent from the very old Onsen bathing ritual to the more modern fully automated and highly imaginative toilets.

In my next series of articles I will describe a trip that will take about four weeks to complete. The trip will utilize the amazingly convenient, modern, safe, clean, and reliable railway system. And will take you from the contemporary city of Sapporo, in the northern island of Hokkaido to the completely rebuilt and wonderful city of Hiroshima in the south of Honshu. My aim is to give you a terrific insight into: Nippon or Nihon or the Land of the Rising Sun; Japan.

Information:

A round-trip flight from San Francisco to Tokyo ranges between $762 to $4,187.

A 21-day Japan Rail Pass ranges between $850.92 (79,600 YEN) and $616.81 (57,700 YEN)

A terrific web site to book accommodation in Japan is http://www.japanhotel.net


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