Your Japan vacation
Rickshaws. Bullet trains. Mount Fuji. Hello Kitty. This archipelago of contrasts has it all. From tiny cars to tempura, Japan's razor-sharp edge -- not to mention karaoke bars -- leaves visitors singing praises to the Land of the Rising Sun.
But before you say "sayonara," let Orbitz help you plan ahead. Our insiders dish on soba shops, geishas and Ginza, plus Japan's top 10 attractions.
Best time to take a vacation to Japan
This island nation sports a complex climate. Northern regions are mountainous with distinct seasons, and the south is balmy, with its palm-studded islands and beach vibe. Cities facing the Sea of Japan get hard-core winters when Siberian air clashes with warm Pacific fronts. The result: huge snowfalls, ski resorts and cold snaps. The Pacific Ocean side sees less snow, while Honshu's big cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Kyoto) are chilly. Summers? Hot and sticky, with the exception of Hokkaido. June is Japan's brief rain season, and typhoon season is from August to October.
Tokyo, Kyoto, Yokohama are always buzzing, but nation-wide, peak holiday seasons are Golden Week (late April to early May) and the mid-August O-Bon (Festival of the Dead). But during Shogatsu (New Year) Japan basically shuts down.
Insider tips for Japan travel
Theme restaurants in Tokyo
Far beyond quirky, Tokyo takes the cake for its nothing-short-of-awesome theme restaurants. You'll find wacky combos, from medical/prison themes to vampire cafes (blood orange cocktails!) and oversized/miniature worlds inspired by Alice in Wonderland.
Yoyogi Park in Tokyo
Elvis has made it to Japan. Lookalikes channel The King with pompadours, tight black tees and swiveling hips. Even the elite get giddy.
Don't rely on credit cards -- they're more the exception than the rule. While most department stores, major hotels and some restaurants accept them, most businesses do not. In Japan, cash-and-carry is best.
Yabu Soba in Kanda, Tokyo
This fifth-generation shop attracts visitors from all over Japan. Kimono clad waitresses serve classic dishes such as sashimi yuba, grilled nori and soba (both hot and cold). This place as delicious as it is authentic, and listen carefully: Your orders are sung to the kitchen.
Don't be alarmed if a little culture shock strikes. Japan is just as mysterious as it is accessible. Expect profound politeness and an almost pious sense of order. Money is exchanged on small trays (by hand is rude). Sugar is organized: liquid for cold drinks (doesn't sink), cubes for hot. And umbrellas have street cred -- the Japanese park them outside.
Japan Vacation Packages
17, Nishikujo-Inmachi Minami-ku Map
Book 30 Days In Advance & Save 12%
Multipurpose hotel directly across from Kyoto Station One of the largest hotels in the city, the New Miyako Hotel Kyoto offers both business and leisure travelers exceptional value, stylish rooms, numerous amenities and easy access to Kyoto and points beyond. Located... More
Conveniently located a short distance from the airport, Narita City offers good shopping, restaurants and nightlife to entertain the passing travelers or visiting businessperson. The hotel provides amenities like airport transfer, gift shop, gym/ fitness facilities,... More
3-1-1 Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka Map
Book 30 Days In Advance & Save 5%
Complimentary WiFi and LAN internet access in ALL guest rooms The hotel is located in JR OSAKA station. We have the best access in OSAKA. Arriving at OSAKA, you can find us and check in easily. You do not need to go out from the station to come to us in even the bad... More
Shiodome Media Tower 1-7-1, Higashi Shimbashi, Minato-ku Map
Stay 5 Nights & Save JPY 1,263 Per Night
Classy, chic rooms with a view in TokyoGreat views at the Park Hotel Tokyo begin on the 25th floor lobby. Rooms sit above the lobby and provide breathtaking views of the Tokyo skyline. Even the modern business center offers fabulous city views. Guest rooms are... More
Renovation work on the restaurant The hotel has scheduled to have renovation work on the restaurant "Vent-Vert" during the period below. Duration: from 5th January 2015 to early in April 2015 During the above period, guests have breakfast at the banquet hall or... More
604 Manjyuya Cho, Karasuma San Jyo Minami Map
Book Now & Save 15%
A touch of Europe in the heart of KyotoWith a design inspired by William Morris, the "father of modern design," the Hotel Monterey Kyoto offers guests a distinct European style in sharp contrast to its prime location in busy Kyoto. The property is located in the city... More
The Mercure Narita Airport is located at Tokyo's Narita Airport, a few minutes' walk from the train station on the Keisei line. The hotel features 248 rooms, a restaurant, bar, gymnasium and squash court, and provides a complimentary airport shuttle service. Naritasan... More
2-12-22 Minami senba Chuo-Ku Osaka Map
Check In On SUN, MON Or TUE & Save 30%
The Hearton Hotel Minami Senba is a modern business hotel located in the heart of Osaka. It is within walking distance of Osaka's main shopping and dining areas and is close to a number of subway stations allowing you to travel around Osaka and further a field with ease.... More
Complimentary WiFi and LAN internet access in ALL guest rooms Designated as an Important Culture Property of Japan, The Tokyo Station Hotel offers the functionality of a contemporary classic hotel whilst preserving its deep-rooted heritage. The hotel rooms of this... More
Stay at the elegant Crowne Plaza ANA Hiroshima for a wide choice of cuisine and English language service in the heart of Hiroshima. Crowne Plaza ANA Hiroshima is in Hiroshima's commercial district, just 5 minutes walk from the peace memorials. Ask the bilingual Front Desk... More
Promo Code Terms and Conditions
Book a qualifying 4-night flight + hotel vacation package between January 1, 2014 12:00AM CST and March 31, 2015 11:59PM CST, for $1000 or more for travel between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 via Orbitz and instantly receive $150 off the hotel portion of your booking through the use of the promotion code. Limit one discount per hotel room and one promotion code per booking. Discounts are not redeemable for cash for any reason. Promotion codes cannot be resold. Any attempt at fraud will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Void where prohibited, taxed or restricted. Orbitz reserves the right to change or limit the promotion in its sole discretion. Promo code not valid for Las Vegas, NV bookings.
Tokyo is enormous, bright, uber exotic and astronomically futuristic. Whether you're in Mikimoto (world-renowned pearls) or Asakusa (temple district), wanderlust will accompany you everywhere. Shopping district Ginza will send you from kid-in-a-candy store glee to impenetrable confusion with its luxury retailers (Fendi, Prada) and basement food halls. (Mind your chopsticks -- in Japan, it's rude to eat standing up.)
It's hard to believe this urban metropolis was a remote fishing village some 100 years ago. It's now home to the world's biggest Chinatown and tallest inland lighthouse (Marine Tower), and you'll be wowed by Minato Mirai (ferris wheel), which doubles as the world's largest clock. Kannai, bound by the Ooka River and the sea, draws visitors to the heart of the city with its historic roads (the first in Japan to use gas street lamps). Sankei-en Garden is a must-see in Naka Ward.
Located in the mountainous hillside region of Gifu, Takayama is considered one of Japan's most traditional cities. And the Takayama Festival, held each spring and fall, is considered Japan's best. For two days, visitors marvel as yatai (giant floats) and mikoshi (portable shrines) make their way through Takayama's old town. The highlights are the tmatsuri (evening festival) and karakuri performances, where ornate mechanical dolls dance and caper.
Shiretoko National Park
Located on the Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido, Shiretoko National Park is one of Japan's most flawless natural beauties. Bathe in hot waterfalls (Kamuiwakkayu Falls), or take a cruise along the rugged coastline, where the park's remotest areas are visible only by boat or on foot. In winter, the Sea of Okhotsk coast offers an idyllic spot to see Siberian drift ice.
Celebrate New Year in Nippon! Say sayonara to the old year with a bonenkai party -- where Japanese leave yesteryear's cares behind. New Year's Eve is spent cleaning, eating toshikoshi soba (for good fortune) and decking the halls in pine, bamboo and plum trees. More modern twists include J-pop and enka performances on TV. It's traditional to watch the hatsu-hinode (sunrise) on New Year's morn and visit a shrine or temple. Plan ahead: Japan basically shuts down from January 1st to the 3rd.
The Japanese rave about the castles here. Osaka Castle (near Kyoto) is one of Japan's most famous, especially when the hanami (cherry blossoms) bloom. Himeji Castle, a bit further out, flaunts poetic beauty with its hilltop perch and bird-like looks -- its nickname is Hakurojo (White Egret Castle). Hungry? Check out nearby Kobe, hometown of the famous beef.
Everything's zen in Kyoto. This former Japanese capital boasts soul-stirring beauty with its ancient temples, shrines and meditation gardens. The emperor's residence for over a thousand years, this populous (1 million plus) city's heart wins visitors with Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nishiki Market (seafood, trinkets). Walk the cherry-blossom trails of Philosopher's Path and stunning streets in historic district Higashiyama. Gion is geisha territory, while northern Kyoto is home to the gold-leaf-covered Kinkakuji temple.
It's not Halloween, it's Harajuku. Here, teenagers outwit the fashion rules with some of their own: Kawaii (translation: cute) dress like kids toys with the help of decoras (fave colors and accessories). Cosplays are anime and/or cartoons, while wamono are Japanese/Western hybrids. From the hair to the handbags (not to mention shoes!), the shops of Takeshita Dori keep these youngsters cutting-edge. And just around the corner: the serene Meiji Jingu Shrine.
Stroll up Nakamise Dori for classic souvenirs such as yukata, paper lanterns and folding fans. Snack on manju and ningyoyaki (cute-shaped sweets) en route to Senso-ji, Tokyo's oldest temple. Kappabashi sells wholesale goodies such as tea kettles, steak knives and ceramics. Famous tempura restaurants line the area. Take a cruise of the Sumida River; plenty of tour boats are nearby.
Kirishima-Yaku National Park
Take Japan's rugged side head-on. Kirishima-Yaku National Park, on the southern tip of Kyushu Island, packs a punch with its numerous volcanoes, craters and onsen (natural hot springs). On a clear day, trek up to the summit of Karakuni-dake, the highest peak in the region. But if your dogs are tired, there are plenty of easy paths and photo ops.