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JAPAN: Culture

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Traditional Kabuki theatre
Thanks to its colourful characters and dramatic plots, Kabuki is the most accessible of Japan's traditional performance arts. The best place to catch a performance is at Tokyo's Kabuki-za theatre.

Kenroku-en garden
Kenroku-en is the largest and most interesting of Japan's many superb classical gardens. Its meandering paths, streams and islet-speckled lakes are best appreciated at dawn or dusk when the crowd thins out.

Tosho-gu shrine, Nikko
Set amid towering cryptomeria trees, Nikko's dazzling Tosho-gu shrine is a riot of gilded carvings and polychrome paintwork and the burial place of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of Japan's most important historical figures.

Susukino nightlife, Sapporo
In the northern city of Sapporo, the Susukino area ranks amongst Japan's liveliest entertainment districts. Its neon-seared streets are packed with bars, restaurants and nightclubs, pachinko parlours and sleazy "soaplands". Use your Japan international cell phone rentals to call a cab after a night of partying.

Pilgrimage to Dewa-sanzan
For more than one thousand years, pilgrims have been trekking up Dewa-sanzan. The most sacred of the mountain's three shrines consists of a yellow-ochre rock washed by a hot spring.

Tsumago Edo-era village
A staging post on the old Nakasendo highway between Tokyo and Kyoto, the beautifully preserved village of Tsumago provides a rare glimpse into Japan's feudal past.

Koya-san Buddhist retreat
There's a surreal atmosphere to Koya-san, a Buddhist retreat perched among the clouds. Its mysterious, mossy cemetery is filled with jumbled memorials, while temples offer simple lodgings and excellent vegetarian cuisine. By using your international cellular phone rental you can easily make a reservation for a Buddhist retreat.

Hiking in Daisetsu-zan National Park
Spectacular gorges, volcanic peaks, hot springs and dozens of trails make Hokkaido's Daisetsu-zan National Park a top spot for hiking. Summer's alpine flowers give way to vivid autumn colours and skiing in winter. Use your international mobile phone rental to stay connected and safe during a hike in Japan.

Enryaku-ji temple
The cavernous central hall of Enryaku-ji temple, deep in the cedar forests north of Kyoto, is absolutely compelling. Three altars float in a pungent haze of incense smoke lit by mellow lamplight.

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