Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is one of the busiest cities in the world – all neon lights and skyscrapers – but hop on a bullet train and within a couple of hours you could be relaxing at an onsen (hot spring) in a green tea bath, in the middle of a forest, with nothing for company but the sound of birdsong…
As well as a trip to the onsen – oh my, they’re good – must-do things to do are visiting Tsukiji, the wholesale fish market where tuna auctions are held, dancing at The Room in Shibuya (a favourite haunt of DJ Gilles Peterson), and taking a trip to the former ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto where Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines are surrounded by beautifully raked gardens. You may catch a glimpse of a discreet maiko (an apprentice geiko learning to entertain visitors by performing songs, dancing, and playing traditional Japanese instruments) rushing between teahouses.
The food can be outstanding – I tasted sushi that only shared its name with the stuff I’d eaten before. Just thinking about it has made me decide to have a big bowl of ramen at nearby Tonkotsu (they make the noodles on-site).
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