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Japan: Why You Should Visit the Land of the Rising Sun

06 Feb 2023 | by Anna Gibbs


  • Top cities you should visit
  • Why You Should Visit Japan during Cherry Blossom Season
  • How to get to Japan from the UK


Japan. A place of diverse landscapes, a rich culture and extraordinary food. Visited by millions of tourists every year, this incredible country has something for everyone. Whether you want to visit the breathtaking Mount Fuji, unwind in a traditional onsen (hot springs) in Kyoto, or savour delicious street food in Osaka, the possibilities are endless in Japan.

And if you truly want a getaway of a lifetime, then a cruise and stay holiday is the perfect way to explore a variety of cities whilst sailing on an extraordinary cruise ship.

Fun Facts about Japan

  • Japan is made up of over 6,800 islands.
  • Japan has the highest proportion of elderly people - 29% of them are over the age of 65. It also has more than 85,000 people who are over the age of 100.
  • Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, with very low crime rates.
  • Japanese trains are nearly always on time. The average delay is only 18 seconds.
  • It’s home to Kongo Gumi - the oldest company in the world.

As there are so many different extraordinary places to visit in Japan, it might feel daunting to know where to visit first. To help guide you, we’ve rounded up the top places to visit in Japan, along with information about the iconic cherry blossom season and how to get to Japan from the UK.

Top Places To Visit in Japan

1) Tokyo


The capital of Japan, the bustling city of Tokyo is beloved for its electrifying nightlife, impressive skyscrapers and sakura-lined streets. A beautiful combination of modern and historic sights, it’s a tourist hot-spot with more than 10 million visitors flocking to the city each year.

Some of the highlights in Tokyo include the Shibuya Crossing, the Imperial Palace, Meiji Shinto Shrine, Senso-ji Temple and Tokyo Skytree. For those that love to shop, Nakamise shopping street which leads up to Senso-ji Temple is the ultimate spot for some retail therapy. And when it’s time to eat, you’ll have plenty to choose from in its numerous markets, first-class restaurants and quaint cafes.

Tokyo is also a great gateway to get out on a tour to see Mt. Fuji close up and the awe-inspiring town of Hakone. And with Planet Cruise’s inclusive tours, not only can you see these wonderful attractions, but you’ll also get to go on the famous Bullet Train too!

If you’ve always wanted to visit Tokyo, you’re in for a treat on one of our Japan cruise and stay experiences Giving you the chance to not only explore Tokyo but also several other destinations and sights listed above, the cruise and stay experiences in Japan are one-of-a-kind.

2) Kyoto


Previously the capital of Japan, Kyoto will make you feel truly immersed into Japanese culture due to its large number of traditional temples, shrines and striking scenery. Located on the island of Honshu, whilst you’re there take part in one of its historic traditions, Kaiseki dining; giving you the chance to try multiple courses of Japanese cuisine. It’s also where you’ll see Geishas.

Kyoto’s key attractions include the beautiful shrine Fushimi Inari Taisha, the buddhist temple Kinkaku-Ji, Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nishiki Market. If you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy spot, then visit the breathtaking Arashiyama Bamboo Grove — you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world!

Kyoto is also a part of a handful of Planet Cruises’ cruise and stay Japan packages, and there several excursions you can choose from, including exploring the World Heritage Site of Tenryuji Temple and an excursion to the small island of Miyajima - a tranquil island within Hiroshima’s Bay that’s a great place to spot the cherry blossoms!

3) Osaka


A large port city, Osaka is also located on the island of Honshu. Often on the bucket list of people visiting Japan, it combines modern architecture, with hearty street food and historical landmarks. Whilst in Osaka, you’ll want to visit the stunning Osaka Castle, Sumiyoshi Taisha (a traditional Shinto shrine) and the impressive Umeda Sky Building. If you’re looking for something a little different, Universal Studios Japan is also located there.

Osaka is also a part of a handful of Planet Cruises’ cruise and stay Japan packages. Within the same cruise, you could see several sites of historical interest, such as the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Cities You Can Visit Via Shore Excursions

On a Japan cruise and stay holiday, you will also visit several destinations via shore excursions. Here are two that we think are well worth a visit:



An underrated port city located in Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido), Hakodate is a beautiful destination that has many stand-out attractions including the unique Motomachi neighbourhood that features architecture inspired by the West, the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward and Mount Hakodate. It’s also known for its iconic star-shaped fort, Goryokaku that dates back to 1866 and was built to defend against western powers due to the imposing imperial threat.

If you want incredible views out towards the city, you can take an aerial ropeway gondola to its summit. Transporting nearly 2 million people annually, this scenic journey will take you up to the iconic observation deck in less than 10 minutes. Reaching heights of 334 m above sea level, you’ll be able to see the city from an exhilarating new perspective.



Located on Honshu, Aomori is a bustling port town known for its buzzing markets, abundance of picturesque nature and its popular Nebuta festivals it holds within the summer months. During the festivals, you can enjoy colourful lantern floats showcasing historical and mythical creatures, as well as exciting performances by a variety of musicians and dancers.

Top highlights in Aomori include the Hirosaki Castle & Gardens, Aomori Museum of Art, Memorial Ship Hakkoda-maru and Asamushi Aquarium.

Why You Should Visit Japan during Cherry Blossom Season

Japan Cherry Blossom

Arguably the most popular time to visit Japan is during the cherry blossom season. When the trees are illuminated with beautiful pink flowers, seeing the cherry blossoms is an unrivalled experience. And what makes it even more special is that it only happens at specific times of the year, so you’ll want to ensure that you book your trip during then.

The Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival is a very popular event each year. Attracting over two million visitors, it’s held in the city as the type of cherry blossom trees that bloom in Japan are called Kawazu-Zakura. The trees in the city also start to bloom earlier than others, with larger petals and a more vibrant colour.

Planet Cruise offers very popular Japan cruise and stay packages to some of the top cherry blossom hot spots!

When is cherry blossom season in Japan?

Cherry Blossom

Cherry blossom season in Japan runs from late march to late May, although it can vary depending on location and the temperature. For example, rain and wind is a factor that could delay the cherry blossoms from blooming. Japan even had an equivalent of weather forecasts but for cherry blossoms as it’s so popular!

How to get to Japan from the UK

Japan at Sunset

To get to Japan from the UK, you can either take a flight direct to Tokyo’s Narita airport or Tokyo Haneda airport, or take an indirect flight stopping over at airports such as Amsterdam Airport Schiphol or Doha International Airport. Direct flights take just under 14 hours, and there are daily departures from the UK on a range of airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Once there, you could opt to sail on a cruise around various Japanese destinations, before flying back to the UK at the end of your holiday. Japan can also be visited as part of a cruise to America, sailing from destinations such as Alaska.

Alternatively, you could opt for a World Cruise. These extended cruises visit a whole range of international destinations, with several itineraries including Japan. Or, if you’re looking for a cruise around the wider Far East to take in other incredible destinations such as Vietnam, Singapore, China and Korea, you should go for an Asia cruise.

There are so many reasons why you should visit Japan. From the bustling cities to the breathtaking cherry blossoms and a culture steeped in tradition, there is so much to see and do in the land of the rising sun.

Discover our wide collection of Japan cruise and stay experiences and enjoy a fantastic holiday that will create memories that last a lifetime.

Japan National Tourism Organisation

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