5. Fukuoka in the southern main island of Kyushu is the furthest venue from Tokyo. Fukuoka is also one of the most beautiful, surrounded by mountains and forests and a rich local culture including wonderful food and some of the country’s best hot-spring resorts.
6. Japan is safe and uber-clean but best buy travel insurance in order to cover medical treatment in the case that you take ill. Every major street in Japan has a pharmacy selling over-the-counter drugs for simple ailments. If you have any more serious complaints, you will need to visit a hospital. Check out the English-speaking clinics before you leave.
7. You won’t be able to scale the national icon of Japan – Fuji – as climbing season ends in the summer. But you should catch a glimpse of it while you’re whizzing past on the bullet train to Kyushu or Kobe. Ask for a seat on the Fuji side of the train and make sure to have your camera ready.
8. Another ubiquitous pleasure, ramen restaurants in Japan are cheap, fast, and a bit oily. Soba (buckwheat) noodles are the healthier option. Don’t forget to try kaiten sushi.
9. Everyone should try Japan’s wonderful onsen hot springs. For centuries men and women in Japan communally bathed; the expression Hadaka no tsukiai (naked friendship) means that they had nothing to hide. Now most onsen carry signs in English explaining bathing etiquette to foreign visitors in case they unwittingly offend.
10. Pachinko is a popular game in Japn, mixxing of pinball, slot machine, and midweek bingo. The gaudy exteriors of Pachinko wreck architectural vandalism on high streets across the country. Players are sealed off hermetically from outside by a thick wall of noise, smoke, and gambler’s tension.
11. Queer culture is thriving in Japan. Tokyo hosts Shinjuku’s sprawling 2-Chome – one of the most diverse concentration of gay clubs and bars in Asia. Gay bars and saunas can be found in every big city and the Internet makes it all easy to navigate.