Japan is an archipelago nation with a rich mix of old and new, from untold ancient temples and shrines to cutting edge modern cities and technology. The country is often described as "different", "weird", or "cool"; all and more of which are true. Whether you're a culture enthusiast, nature lover, history buff, gamer, animation addict, or foodie, there's something for you in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Kinkaku-ji, or Temple of the Golden Pavilion, one of Kyoto's most famous buildings.
The stunning Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama during early morning.
Rows of torii at Fushimi Inari-taisha, a shrine in Kyoto conisting of more than 10,000 red gates.
Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. It also has one of the lowest fertility rates, resulting in a country where pets outnumber children. Consequently, many households have no son to inherit the family business or carry on the family name. A widely-embraced solution is to adopt an adult male. In fact, Japan has one of the highest adoption rates in the world, thanks to more than 98% percent of adoptees being adult men tasked with preserving a family-named business.
Pond at Tenryuu-ji in Kyoto surrounded by azaleas and young maples in spring.
Red bridge crossing over to Kiyotaki village, situated at the foot of Mount Atago.
Night view of Tokyo Station, which serves over 3,000 trains a day, the highest number in Japan.
Japan's highly developed railway system is among the most punctual in the world. The operator of Tsukuba Express once made headlines by apologising for the "severe inconvenience" after one of its trains departed 20 seconds too early. Shinjuku Station is recognized by Guinness World Records as the busiest train station in the world, with a measured average of 3.64 million passengers per day in 2007.
Sakura, or cherry blossoms, along the banks of Chidorigafuchi Moat in Tokyo.
Lighting on the Togetsu Bridge and mountainside during an illumination event in Arashiyama.
The iconic Chureito Pagoda that has featured in Mount Fuji travel promotions for years.
There's about 5.5 million vending machines in Japan, roughly one machine for every 23 people. Going above and beyond snacks and drinks, Japanese vending machines feature such items as manga, surgical masks, umbrellas, fruit, hot meals, alcohol, and of course the all-important ramen.
Bamboo Grove pathway illuminated at night during the Arashiyama Hanatouro.
Three-story pagoda at Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most significant temples of eastern Kyoto.
Rain-slicked pedestrian walkway and traffic light trails at night in the Akihabara area of Tokyo.
Woman dressed to resemble a maiko (apprentice geisha). Maiko henshin, meaning maiko makeover, is popular among female tourists in Kyoto.
Geisha means "arts person", that is, someone who entertains through the traditional arts. The first geishas originating in the 18th century were men known as houkan (professional jester) or taikomochi (drum bearer). As with modern geishas, their role was to entertain. Male geisha were relatively quickly displaced by female geisha, although a handful still remain today.
Great Buddha bronze statue at Koutoku-in in Kamakura, Japan.
Fujimi Yagura (Fuji-view Turret) guard tower at Edo Castle on the grounds of Tokyo Imperial Palace.
Fiery red maple trees at Nanzen-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto.
In a country that is obsessed with all things cute and childlike, many find the appearance of crooked teeth to be a desirable childlike feature. So much so that some women seek a dental appointment not to straighten teeth, but to make them more crooked. Several dental clinics offer yaeba (snaggletooth) services to fit removable caps to the upper canines. Japan is no stranger to different standards of beauty. Until as late as the 20th century, married women and aristocrats practiced ohaguro (teeth blackening) because black teeth were considered beautiful.
Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys, engaging in reciprocal grooming behavior.
Small island shrine and bridge during autumn at Eikan-dou Zenrin-ji, a temple in eastern Kyoto.
Turqoise water and coral reefs at Tokashiku Beach on Tokashiki Island in Okinawa.
Japan has a mountainous geography broken into more than 6,800 islands and dominated by some 200 volcanoes, about half of which are active. Only about one-fifth of the land mass is considered suitable for human habitation.
Autumn landscape along the Katsura River in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto.
Red autum maple leaves on a stone tsukubai (washbasin) at Gio-ji in Arashiyama.
Giant carp in a Japanese-style garden pond at Rurikou-in, a secluded temple in northeast Kyoto.