For many people across the globe, Japan is high on their list of dream destinations. It conjures images of beautiful temples surrounded by orange blossom, ultra-modern metropolises with towering skyscrapers and neon lights, and an intoxicating mix of frenetic activity and love for harmony and nature.
The Japanese government has announced a new electronic visa which should make it easier to visit the country. The Japan eVisa will first be available for Chinese and Indonesian visitors in time for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Provided it is a success, it will then be extended to other countries that currently require a visa to visit Japan.
The Japan eVisa will be quick and simple and will allow visitors to avoid long queues at embassies. You will be required to fill in a straight-forward Japan eVisa application form with details including full name, passport information and the purpose of your visit to Japan. You will need a passport valid for at least 6 months, an active email address at which to receive the eVisa and a credit or debit card in order to make the visa payment.
When visiting Japan visitors invariably head for Tokyo. The Japanese capital has an incredible range of attractions to offer visitors from temples to palaces, beautiful parks and some of the best museums you’ll find anywhere on Earth.
Some visitors to the land of the rising sun overlook Osaka, thinking that it is just a smaller version of Tokyo with little to offer, but they are very mistaken.
Tokyo: Old meets new in the ultimate megacity
To say that Tokyo is a big city is something of an understatement.
The Japanese capital is immense and its greater metropolitan area is currently the most populated in the world with a staggering 37 million inhabitants.
In a city of this size, it’s no surprise that the list of things to see and do is and options for tourism in Tokyo are virtually limitless. It is a place that effortlessly combines ancient tradition with the very latest technology and trends.
Highlights of Tokyo include:
- Shibuya Crossing: This iconic zigzagging road crossing is a must for those looking to take a picture that defines Tokyo. It is the busiest crossing in the world with up to 3,000 people crossing at once.
- Senso-ji: Located at the end of a busy shopping street, Senso-ji is a beautiful
- Shinto temple with the second tallest pagoda in Japan.
- Tokyo Skytree: Tokyo’s tallest building is also the tallest tower in the world.
- The viewing gallery offers 360º panoramic views of the city. It isn’t cheap but it’s definitely worth it provided you don’t suffer from vertigo.
Osaka: Japan’s third largest city is a brash and fun delight
Sometimes overlooked by tourists as it does not have as many iconic attractions as other Japanese cities, Osaka is nevertheless not to be missed.
Know for its nightlife, Osaka is less conservative than other parts of the country and tourism in Osaka is centered around entertainment.
It is also a must for foodies and is known for having some of the best restaurants in the country. Tops Osaka attractions include:
- Dotombori: This is the city’s (and arguably Japan’s) liveliest night spot. Here visitors are greeted by endless neon signs advertising a wide range of venues to eat, drink, sing and have fun.
- Osaka Castle: This striking castle with its five-story white and green tower is a must for anyone interested in Japanese culture. As well as housing a military museum, there are also great views of the city from the top floor.
- Osaka Aquarium: Resembling a giant lego brick, this is one of the largest aquariums in the world with a variety of different habitats including a variety of sharks and manta rays.
Those visiting Japan should not feel that they have to decide if Tokyo or Osaka is better. The best option is to visit both and experience two great cities with different personalities. The fastest way to travel between the two cities is on the bullet train, with average journey times of around 2.5 hours.