Experience a complete change of atmosphere in the temples of Kyoto, the old Imperial city of Nara, the beautiful unspoilt town of Takayama, or out in the countryside dotted with the bright red temples of Kyushu, all of which introduce visitors to the more traditional side of Japan. The country's natural sites also add to its magical appeal. The bay of Matsushima and the idyllic bay of Kabira, in the Okinawa archipelago, are perfect for lazing in the sun, while the Shiretoko National Park is a great place for hiking. And of course, you can't go home without making a pilgrimage to Mount Fuji, the country's eternally snow-capped holy mountain, which has watched over the archipelago for thousands of years.
Michelin's recommendations for Japan
Four good reasons to pay a visit to the Amami Islands
Idyllically poised between earth and sky, the Amami Islands are only a 3hr-flight from Tokyo and 1hr from Kagoshima. Despite being little more than a stone’s throw from the very touristy island of Okinawa-honto, they remain as yet off the beaten tourist track. Here are four good reasons to visit these tiny pristine pearls of paradise.
Amami islands: an outstanding geology
The northern Ryukyu Arc is the geological extension of the Outer belt of southwestern Japan. Of volcanic origin, the Amami Islands possess a granite subsoil and are lined in coral reefs. Some are also entirely covered in ancient corallian limestone reefs.
The outstanding kimonos of the Oshima Tsumugi workshop
The Oshima Tsumugi workshop in the north of Amami Oshima Island upholds ancestral know-how devoted to the manufacture of exquisite silk kimonos. Set in an idyllic landscape at the foot of a mountain, the craftsmen and women continue to use natural ingredients to dye the fabric, together with traditional weaving techniques.