Shibuya – Tokyo
Taking a trip to Tokyo? You’ll be sure to end up at Shibuya. The sprawling capital’s commercial and business centre, this is a place popular with tourists and locals alike, a buzzing spot that has become renowned as Tokyo’s best shopping and entertainment district. Home to the two busiest train stations on Earth — Shibuya and Shinjuku — this can be a chaotic place, but get your bearings and you’ll soon find your feet. The famous Hachiko Crossing is a case in point. Master this and you’ll be on your way.
With its countless shops, restaurants and nightclubs, Shibuya never sleeps, this a colourful spot that can tire out tourists. But there are places here to enjoy a little quiet time too. When it all gets too much, head to the Meiji Shrine, set in 170 acres of beautiful forest, to recharge your batteries before heading back out onto the busy city streets once again.
Cross the Kamogawa River and discover shrines and temples aplenty, Eastern Kyoto awash with sights to savour and a great deal to see and do. Be sure to set aside sufficient time to explore the narrow streets here, as this is no place to rush. To do this properly, it's important to take things slowly.
Start at Kiyomizudera, one of Japan's most celebrated temples, before heading towards Higashiyama, a preserved historic district that demands to be explored. Ginkakuji is always worth a visit, whilst Gion -- the famous Geisha district -- is not to be missed. This is a peaceful place, its cobbled streets a far cry from Japan's modern urban hubs, and with Kyoto's Eastern Mountains providing a picturesque backdrop, you'll find strolling the winding lanes and alleys here an enjoyable experience indeed. Be sure to look out for the Philosopher's Path, a beautiful trail lined with cherry trees. Visit during spring and you'll be treated to a spectacular natural show, with the blossom out and beautiful flowers all around.
Take a step back in time in the beautiful Kiso Valley, a place where ancient Japan endures and a world away from the hustle and bustle of the country's chaotic cities. The superbly-preserved post towns of Magome, Narai and Tsumago demand a visit, with the stone paths and traditional wooden buildings entrancing those who are fortunate enough to spend a little time in these peaceful parts.
Running alongside the spectacular mountains of Japan's Central Alps, the Kiso River is a place of immense natural beauty, beckoning those with a penchant for the great outdoors and always a popular spot for hikers. Trek the historic Nakasendo trail or head for the foothills of Mount Ontake and Komagatake, the choice is yours. With all the fresh air and exercise, you'll be sure to leave Kiso feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and all set to take a trip back to modernity.