Today, our destination is Japan - a country that’s steeped in tradition but one that also lives on the cutting edge of the future.
It’s one of the few places in the world where tradition and change go hand in hand.
A place built on paradox - this is Japan.
A throbbing country of more than 127 million people, crammed into a chain of islands, an area smaller than California.
Maybe it’s not so surprising that such a modern place holds such a strong grip on its cultural past.
It was only as recently as the late 1800’s, when the country emerged from hundreds of years of isolation brought on by its rulers.
Nothing embodies the contrasts of tradition and modernism quite like Tokyo.
Staying in the capital, a city of over 12 million people, you’ll be able to experience some of the best shopping, dining, and cultural treasures the country has to offer.
And if you’re looking for a taste of authentic Tokyo, you don’t have to go far.
Head out to the Tsukiji Wholesale fish market, handling seafood for the entire region around Tokyo.
For a breath of fresh air, plan a daytrip to the iconic Mount Fuji.
Located 62 miles south west of Tokyo in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu national park, Mt Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan rising more than 12 thousand feet.
Although it is covered by snow several months out of the year, the sacred mountain remains one of Japan’s most popular attractions.
Just below Mt. Fuji is a natural wonder of a bay called Saruga.
Here boaters enjoy pristine water conditions, divers check out the sea life and researchers congregate to study this wonderful marine habitat.
Above water the wildlife is no less impressive.
Japan also offers the opportunity to come face to face with some amazing animals such as the Japanese giant hornet or the Japanese macaque.
When you’re ready for more urban exploration, give traditional kabuki theater a try.
You’ll be able to find a good show in Kyoto, Osaka, or Tokyo.
Japan’s traditional theater, is known for highly stylized drama and the elaborate make-up worn by its all male performers.
Keep in mind, though, it might not be a great stop for kids; performances last about 3 hours.
Drinks and snacks are usually available in the foyer.
You can also buy a ticket for a set “bento,” or lunch box - it’ll be served to you in the dining room during the intermission.
For those seeking out traditional arts and crafts…Japan won’t disappoint.
For ceramics lovers, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to Heaven.
Japan boasts hundreds of famous kilns and many of the country’s master potters continue the tradition on the island of Kyushu.
From handmade Japanese paper called “washi,” to the centuries –old art of “bunraku puppetry,” to the thrill of watching some of Japan’s finest athletes compete in the sumo rings of Tokyo or Osaka, Japan offers the unique promise of experiencing the past, but with one eye always looking toward the future.