Japan is not the first country people think of when talking about visiting Asia. It has a reputation for being expensive for starters. People getting pushed into crowded subways is another image that stays on.

The truth is different. Prices are not bad compared to Western Europe and most subways are only 'normally full' or even not crowded. Transport is comfortable and very efficient. Everything is clean and you do not have to fear petty crime or robbery.

Mount Koya (Koyasan)

This mountain is the center of the esoteric sect of Shingon Buddhism, founded by Kobo Dashi who brought the mystic tradition from China. He initiated the Buddhist mission on Mt Koya at 3000 ft for the salvation of all mankind. Since it is a holy place for many people the cemetery is enormous, with interesting tombstones in the form of rockets or donated by factories.

Hiroshima

The site of the first atomic bomb used on mankind. The city itself is modern but rather pleasant. The Peace Park is impressive as is the museum. You'll see a lot of folded paper crane birds. In Japan it has long been believed that folding a thousand paper cranes will make your wish come true. A 12 year old girl named Sadako Sasaki fell ill with leukemia ten years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She started to fold paper cranes from medicine wrappers. The story is that she did not complete a thousand cranes before she died and her classmates completed that number. Since then paper cranes have become a symbol and many thousands can be seen at the peace parks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Beppu

Famous for its natural hot springs which have been converted to amusement sites (Hellen) or are used for bathing (Onsen).

Nagasaki

The second place that has fallen victim to an atomic bomb. Also with a Peace Park and a museum. Different from Hiroshima but equally impressive. Decima is the tiny island from which the Dutch were allowed to trade. Near are more houses of western merchants in colonial style.

In the vicinity of Nagasaki is Huis ten Bosch where Dutch canals, houses and other buildings are replicated. Looks like the whole of Holland in a compact way.

Fukuoka

A modern city whose main attraction is a shopping mall.

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Tokio to Kyoto

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