The contrast between the dynamic, highly modern metropolises and the ancient yet vibrant traditions and culture is what makes Japan so appealing to most visitors from Switzerland. Japan, with its four main islands, spans across Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, as well as approximately 4,000 smaller islands.
The climate varies from cool continental in Hokkaido in the north to humid subtropical in the Okinawa Islands in the south. Nevertheless, the country experiences four distinct and markedly different seasons. The most beautiful and popular ones are spring, known for its delicate pink cherry blossoms, and autumn, celebrated for the stunning fiery red foliage of the maple tree.
In Japan, in addition to the metropolises like Tokyo and Osaka, the diverse landscapes are particularly captivating. Almost 30,000 kilometers of coastline, numerous volcanoes such as Mount Fuji, hot springs, primeval forests, extensive mountain ranges, mangroves, coral reefs, and drift ice fields make up 85% of the country. Only about 16% of the land is suitable for agriculture. However, 75% of the population resides here, mainly in the urban areas of the coastal plains. The rest of the country is a treasure trove of natural beauty, with numerous national parks and picturesque hot springs. Just a few kilometers from the metropolises, you can often find the old Japan.
Japan is Asia's oldest industrial nation. At the same time, the country has preserved its unique traditions and centuries-old culture. Japan boasts 27 UNESCO-listed attractions, ranging from the Shiretoko National Park on the northernmost island of Hokkaido to the ancient Shogun and Imperial cities of Nikko, Kyoto, and Nara, and to the remnants of an ancient Chinese-influenced empire on Okinawa.
Many associate Japanese cuisine with sushi, and you should definitely try it in Japan, as it's as authentic and delicious as it gets. Sushi, sashimi, ramen, miso soup, gyoza, yakitori, tempura, and okonomiyaki are just some of the tastiest Japanese dishes that are now known well beyond Japan's borders. Japanese beef, especially Kobe beef, is also widely acclaimed for its quality and flavor.
Many visitors are surprised by how easy it is to travel in Japan. The "Japan Rail Pass" allows for unlimited travel on all Japan Rail trains, including the Shinkansen. Additionally, Japan is considered one of the safest countries in the world, with a very low crime rate. Even in the bustling city of Tokyo, you can confidently ride the subway or take a stroll at night. Last but not least, the friendliness and helpfulness of the people, along with excellent service in all aspects, make Japan an unforgettable experience for all visitors.
Due to Japan's geographical location and its north-south span of nearly 3,000 kilometers, the country covers 25 degrees of latitude and multiple climate zones.
The climate in the north, especially in Hokkaido and northern Honshu, is cold-temperate, while the south is more warm-temperate to subtropical.
Popular travel times include spring with cherry blossoms (from mid-March to mid-April in central Honshu) and autumn with colorful foliage (October and November).
In winter, from mid-December, Hokkaido and the Japanese Alps receive abundant powdery snow, making it a paradise for skiers.