Visit the Mountain Resort of Hakone, Japan

Hakone is a mountain resort town roughly 60 miles south of Tokyo. Famous for hot springs, incredible scenery and stunning (if often obscured) views of Mount Fuji, Hakone and the surrounding area are part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Whether as a destination to be thoroughly explored over a few weeks or one to consider for a relaxing weekender or quickie day trip from Toyko, Hakone represents an accessible opportunity to see another side of Japanese culture beyond the urban bustle and to experience some of the best of nation's gorgeous countryside.

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Visit Kappabashi, Tokyo's Kitchen Town

You know those incredibly realistic plastic samples of menu items that you see in the windows of Japanese restaurants and other types of east Asian eateries? Well, there’s a street in Tokyo where the shops specialise in selling those plastic samples, along with pretty much everything else imaginable you’d need to run a restaurant. For Tokyo souvenir shopping that straddles the quirky and the practical a stroll through Kappabashi is mandatory.

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Visit Tokyo's Oldest Buddhist Temple: Senso-ji

Senso-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple. Located in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, it is the oldest and arguably most important temple in the city. With more than 30 millions visitors a year, Senso-ji is also one of Japan’s top attractions. A definite must-see item on any Tokyo agenda, here are few tips on making the most of your visit to this serene (if extremely popular and ever bustling) place of contemplation.

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Hamarikyu Gardens: A Green (Tea) Oasis Amid the Bustle of Modern Tokyo

Hamarikyu Gardens is bucolic swath of ancient parkland and ponds on the site of the 17th century villa of the Tokyo’s first Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Surrounded by Tokyo’s towering modern skyline, a wander round the gardens offers a relaxing opportunity to experience the old/new, traditional/modern contrast that's so closely associated with contemporary Japanese culture and daily life in 21st century Tokyo.

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Shinbashi: Blade Runner Lights and Yakitori Delights

Shinbashi is a tight little Blade Runner-esque sliver of Tokyo close to where I recently stayed in Japan. It's also a densely packed street food haven especially popular for quick cheap lunches and afterwork drinking binges with a mind boggling number of yakitori restaurants, late night noodle bars and hole in the wall drinking establishments. If this frenetic slice of Tokyo living had a motto, it might be “eat, drink and be merry (and then drink some more) but don't miss your train or make it back to the office late!”

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