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Anyone who’s ever eaten sushi, read manga, or sipped sake may feel they know something about this slinky archipelago of some 6800 volcanic islands. And yet, from the moment of arrival in Japan, it’s almost as if you’ve touched down on another planet. Prepare to be pleasantly disorientated as you negotiate this fascinating land where ancient gods, customs and craftsmanship are mixed up with cutting edge modern technology, futuristic fashions and up-tothe-second style.

High-speed trains whisk you from one end of the country to another with aweinspiring punctuality. In the suburbs of a sprawling metropolis, you can catch sight of a farmer tending his paddy field, then turn the corner and find yourself next to a neon-festooned (video) games parlour. One day you could be picking through fashions in a boutique designed by an award-winning architect, the next relaxing in an outdoor hot-spring pool, watching cherry blossom or snowflakes fall, depending on the season.

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Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area in the world.Tokyo has been described as one of the three "command centers" for the world economy, along with New York City and London.

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Tokyo has many theaters for performing arts. These include national and private theaters for traditional forms of Japanese drama as well as modern drama. Symphony orchestras and other musical organizations perform modern and traditional music. Tokyo also hosts modern Japanese and international pop and rock music at venues ranging in size from intimate clubs to internationally known arenas such as the Nippon Budokan. As the largest population center in Japan and the location of the country's largest broadcasters and studios, Tokyo is frequently the setting for many Japanese movies, television shows, animated series (anime), web comics, and comic books (manga). In the kaiju (monster movie) genre, landmarks of Tokyo are routinely destroyed by giant monsters such as Godzilla and Gamera. 4

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Shinto and Buddhism are Japan's two major religions. Shinto is as old as the Japanese culture, while Buddhism was imported from the mainland in the 6th century. Since then, the two religions have been co-existing relatively harmoniously and have even complemented each other to a certain degree. Most Japanese consider themselves Buddhist, Shintoist or both. Religion does not play a big role in the everyday life of most Japanese people today. The average person typically follows the religious rituals at ceremonies like birth, weddings and funerals, may visit a shrine or temple on New Year and participates at local festivals (matsuri), most of which have a religious background.

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#1 KYOTO #2 ONSEN #3 KUMANO KODO #4 NIKKO #5 SUMO #6 MOUNT FUJI #7 YAKUSHIMA #8 THE KISO VALLEY

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#9 KABUKI #10 KOYA SAN #11 HIROSHIMA #12 NAOSHIMA #13 NARA #14 SKIING IN NISEKOHOKKAIDO #15 HIMEJI


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