One of the most visited Asian countries by cruise, Japan has numerous fascinating attractions, from the bright neon lights and skyscrapers of Tokyo to volcanic towns such as Kagoshima. Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises often call at different ports in Japan on itineraries from China and Singapore, also calling at ports in Korea. Japan is a favourite destination among Asians who love its rich culture, delicious food and fantastic shopping. From kitsch goods to luxury local designers, each city has its own unique style. There are lots of historic palaces, serene temples and shrines and beautiful national parks. One of the most famous ports, Shimizu, sits in the shadow of Mount Fuji. Visitors can take a walk through Miho, home to a 650-year-old black Japanese pine tree. For the water enthusiasts, the coastal town of Muroran is great for surfing during the summer months. Tokyo, the capital, is a hot house of restaurants and bars and one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.
PLACES TO STAY Don’t miss the opportunity to stay in a traditional ryokan (Japanese inn). These range from the very basic to the ultra luxurious and will generally involve sleeping on a futon rolled onto the floor, dining on kaiseki (degustation style) cuisine and bathing in an onsen (hot spring bath). In Tokyo cruisers are spoilt for choice with everything from luxury hotels like the Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons to tiny capsule hotels where you can lay your head – but not much else. Kyoto and other smaller cities have great historic hotels in their older districts, as well as modern international brands.