Japan is one of the most interesting places in the world. It is known for juxtaposition and great contrast, with quaint ancient Japanese castles seated next to super modern metal towers. The amazing synthesis of the new and the old makes visiting japan a fascinating experience every time a tourist visits. Certain must go spots include Kyoto and Nara, Okinawa and Osaka, and of course Tokyo. Each of these cities are renown for entirely different things.

Even if you do not speak japanese, it is still an easy and safe country in which to travel. It is clean and has an efficient public transport infrastructure in place. Technology is at many areas more advanced than one would ever see, but the place can be very expensive if you do not know where to look. Also unless it is an emergency or you feel particularly prosperous, do not take their taxis, it can cost a few hundred usd for a trip of 30-60 km. There is no typo there. A few hundred dollars not yen. If you do flag one down, you won't be expected to tip.

As for the time of the year to pay a visit, japan is a seasonal country. Spring from march to may and autumn from september on, are favorite and popular times to pay a visit. Spring is known for it's cherry blossoms, Sakura flowers but the Sakura burst is short lived, lasting about 7 days. As for autumn, it has pleasant temperatures but a browner sky. Any time outside of these two seasons can be grossly unpredictable. Remember to bring along the appropriate clothing. It would be helpful to bring shoes that are easily removed, as some places like restaurants expects you to place your shoes at designated lockers by the door.

When you do go, preplan your itinerary before you buy your tickets. It is a big country and it is unlikely for you to be able to travel everywhere in but a few weeks. You could go island hopping, or hit and stay in certain areas like Tokyo or Hokkaido or Nara which would definitely occupy your interests for an entire week. If you like the modern and the new, the skyscrapers and technology, then Tokyo would be a good start. If you are there for local folk fare as well as intriguing food, you could do far worse than Hokkaido.

Japan has had a stagnant economy though, and political movements, while reserved and slow, are changing. More so as north Korea has been in recent years become much more menacing and aggressive. Especially with an uncertain outlook of north koreas current interaction with south korea, things might be going south indeed. Like many other countries that are considered developed, it faces a declining population and birth rate. It may well have interesting times in it's future.

If you are in japan, it would be remiss not to soak in it's culture. For a more contemporary source of entertainment, one could pay a visit to its many conemas and theaters, new and old. You would of course need to find one that offers helpful English subtitles! Another area of international acclaim is it's highly sophisticated animated films, which they term "anime". It encompasses any genre so long as the film is animated, and has had stunning reception worldwide. Unlike it's counterparts in say the western world or the like, japanese animation has amongst it's many genres focuses on philosophical exploration of social issues, or elaborate plots that are later repackaged for American audiences. A famous anime director would be Miyazaki, whose works as the head of studio ghibli include spirited away which has won many international awards.

As for the food, japan has some of the best food in the whorl. Locally it is called nihon ryori, and if you've tried japanese food in other countries, you'll be shocked and amazed at how much better the food is in it's original country. You could spend a month in japan and eat completely different types of food every night. Their food is served fresh and healthy, with some of the best hygiene checks in the world, so there should be little concern for intestinal difficulties. Even if you don't speak their language, the people there are so nice and will go to great lengths to ensure you get what you want.

If you are unsure as to the specialty of food you wish to Havel, you can try hitting the izakayas, which are in the style of pubs, or shokudos, which stocks a bit of every kind of food. Most other restaurants however are themed around a specialty. There are also some regional trademark foods. Definitely try the king crabs or snow crabs when in hokkaido, as well as their salmon. Splurge on the sushi hen in Tokyo, and takoyaki in osaka. If you go buy okinawa, they have stir fried bitter melon, which is for some an acquired taste.

There are also some must tries that are pretty much available anywhere. You need to try miso soup in it's original country where they mix it with shellfish like freshwater clams or asari short necked clams or sometimes pork and spring onion. I have a personal preferences for the clam miso soups. You should also try the yakitori, which are skewers of grilled food. And of courser sushi and sashimi which the japanr are known for everywhere. Other common appearances are sukiyaki and shabby shabu which have free flow of beef or meat for a certain time period. The Japanese would be happy to guide you in cooking the food. You can wash all of these down with green tea or sake. Coffee can be expensive though.

You might find some Japanese phrases to be useful in procuring your food! Osusume wa nandeska? Which means what do you have to recommend. Another helpful one is eigono menyu wa arimaska? Which means do you happen to have an English menu. When asking for your bill, ask for okanjo omega shimas. If you step into a shop, you are likely to here irasshai which means welcome, or have a waiter approach you with irrasshaimase which means may I help you. It is probably helpful to bring an iPhone along coupled with a local data plan to utilize the powers of the Internet when in doubt.