Food & Wine





  >  Japan


Japan offers an appealing mix of cultural immersion, delicious cuisine, a fascinating history, and natural beauty. While it’s impossible to resist the exciting hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Japan’s traditional cultural pursuits also shouldn’t be missed. With more than 6,000 islands and 47 prefectures to explore, this diverse country is larger than most people think. In winter, locals and visitors flock to the ski fields around Hokkaido. Spring brings with it the chance to photograph pink cherry blossoms and soak up the atmosphere in and around Japan’s picturesque parks. Losing yourself in the historic streets of Kyoto is an enjoyable way to spend the day before you head out for dinner. Harajuku offers excellent shopping and superb people watching. Japan is incredibly safe, welcoming and inherently fascinating. 


Catch a bullet train
Stroll through a bamboo forest
Eat food from a vending machine
Sing karaoke at a bar
Soak in an onsen
Stay at a ryokan
Attend a tea ceremony
Visit the Golden Temple in Kyoto
Walk the Shibuya Crossing

Dine at a local restaurant

Visit a traditional temple


Japan’s climate varies depending on where you are. If you’re not planning on going skiing, summer is warm and generally pleasant throughout Japan although it can also be humid in some spots. This is the ideal time to enjoy the great outdoors and attend one of the many festivals that take place throughout the country. Autumn offers more comfortable temperatures and beautiful autumn colours. Not surprisingly, this is a popular time for domestic and international tourists to visit. Winter is the time for snow sports and soaking in outdoor onsens surrounded by snow. Spring brings with it the chance to see Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. Locals also love to travel, particularly during the national Golden Week holiday which runs from the end of April to around mid-May. Prices are high and trains, hotels, and popular tourist spots are busy so this time is best avoided if you’re visiting from overseas. 


If you’re eating with other people, don’t pour your own drink. Fill your neighbour’s glass and wait for him or her to reciprocate.

Bow when you’re greeting people, thanking people, and saying good-bye. When you are leaving, keep waving until you don’t see your host anymore. 

Bathing in Japan has a 1,000 year history. To truly experience the local culture, take a bath at a ryokan, bathhouse or in a natural hot spring.

Blowing your nose in public places such as restaurants, the theater or on a tour is considered rude. Try to sniffle until you find a bathroom.


  • Staying at a gasshō-zukuri guesthouse isn’t just a unique cultural experience for visitors, it is also popular with locals seeking to escape the city.

  • Whether you’re a Japan first timer or regular visitor who keeps getting bemused looks from the locals, the following Japan travel tips will come in handy.


Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.