The Ultimate Cruise Traveller’s Guide to Japan


With its mystifying temples, enchanting cherry blossom trees, and technologically-advanced cities, Japan is a nation that lives large in the common imagination. In Japan, ancient culture and fast-paced modern life sit side by side, making for a rich and fascinating country that has visitors marvelling around every corner. Many visitors to Japan return time and time again, so they can experience more of what this beautiful island has to offer.

Visiting Japan as part of a cruise holiday is one of the best ways to see this eclectic destination as it allows you to experience the variety of cultures of its diverse regions. Picture-perfect scenery coupled with thrilling days at port to discover Japanese history and culture makes the country perfect for exploring during a cruise holiday. To assist you in discovering some of the joys that are awaiting anyone cruising around Japan, we have put together this guide with everything you need to know about Japan.

Japan City Guides

When you think of Japanese cities, the bustling metropolis of Tokyo with its busy streets and neon-lit skyscrapers probably comes straight to mind. Although most have a rich heritage and blend the old and new, Japanese cities are widely varied. Whether your heart yearns for dazzling skyscrapers, towering mountain ranges, ancient temples, or rolling oceans, Japan has a city to suit your tastes.

We have put together a few city guides to some of the most popular cruise destinations in Japan to help you make sense of this huge range of cities. Letting you sample what each region has to offer, cruising is one of the best ways to explore this diverse island nation. These guides will give you a little taste of what to expect in each city as well as a few recommendations of what to see, do, and eat during shore excursions.

Japan City

12 Hours in Tokyo: Top Things to See and Do

Neon-bright and ultra-modern, dripping with heritage and decorated with cherry blossom: Tokyo is all of this and more. Famed for its head-spinning pace and its status as one of the most tech-savvy places on earth, Tokyo is an exciting city that almost feels like you’re in the future. It is among the most populated cities in the world, but the broad streets and efficient public transport make it simple to experience all things Tokyo. With its ornate temples, Michelin-starred restaurants, and bizarre vending machines that offer everything from ramen noodles to canned bread, this thrilling city will never cease to amaze you.

Tokyo Guide

12 Hours in Osaka: Top Things to See and Do

After you’ve spent some time exploring the immersive city of Osaka, you’ll see why it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. The city’s futuristic skyline featuring impressive contemporary architecture belies the charming remnants of Edo-period Japan around every corner. From a carefully preserved alleyway that allows you to experience the sights and sounds of Imperial Japan to the awe-inspiring and ultramodern Umeda Sky Building, Osaka is a city that is bound to keep you guessing.

Osaka Japan

12 Hours in Yokohama: Top Things to See and Do

With its glittering cosmopolitan skyline, traditional Japanese gardens, elaborate temples, and unusual collection of museums, Yokohama is a truly fascinating city to visit. The rich culture and heritage of Yokohama are evident in the elegant, old structures and temples that date back to the days before the city had its sparkling modern veneer. Whether you’re marvelling at the city from above on the Landmark Tower, skipping through the city with Pikachu, or sampling every type of ramen you could ever imagine, you’re guaranteed to have a blast in Yokohama.


12 Hours in Kobe: Top Things to See and Do

The lovely port city of Kobe is nestled between Osaka Bay and the majestic mountain range behind it, giving it a unique, modern skyline surrounded by natural beauty. It’s amazing to see how Kobe has rebuilt and flourished since a devastating earthquake hit the vibrant city in 1995. As famous for its outstanding culinary achievements – think Kobe beef – as it is for its status as one of Japan’s most important trading ports, there is plenty to explore in Kobe. With fascinating museums dedicated to the maritime industry Kobe relies upon, tours of traditional sake breweries, and excursions to the surrounding natural scenes, this city offers so much to experience that you will not know where to start.


In-Depth Guides to Japan

Alongside our city-specific guides, we would also like to introduce some of Japan’s nationwide delights and cultural intrigue.

Essential Customs and Vocab You Need to Know Before Visiting Japan

Japanese culture and customs are as unique as they are beautiful, and it’s important to brush up on your skills before you go to make sure you can return the abundant courtesy that you will always receive in Japan. From taking your shoes off before entering someone’s home to never whipping a handkerchief out of your sleeve to blow your nose in public, there are many customs that you must observe if you don’t want to appear rude. Whilst lots of Japanese people speak English, we recommend that you learn a few polite phrases in Japanese, so you can show off your manners wherever you are.

Japan customs

A Tour of Japan’s Top Shrines, Temples, and Castles

Japan is filled to the brim with many stunning buildings: Most of which are religious shrines and temples designed to foster peaceful atmospheres for prayer and contemplation. You can also find castles that once belonged to rich and powerful rulers in many areas of Japan. All these structures provide a fascinating insight into the shifting fashions and aesthetics of the various dynasties that ruled over Japan in the past. Our infographic gives you a quick overview of some of the best places to delve into Japan’s past and where to find them.

Japan Temple

From Sushi to Sashimi: Popular Japanese Cuisine in Pictures

Japan’s picture-worthy cuisine is famous worldwide, but there is no better place to experience the authentic delicacies than in the country itself. From ramen near your hotel to first-rate sashimi in a top restaurant, never in your life have you experienced anything like the flavour explosion that awaits you in Japan. Delight in sushi from chefs who underwent three years of training just to cook the rice perfectly. You can also head to the local market vendors to snag some mouth-watering treats. With so many mouth-watering dishes in Japanese cuisine, you’ll want to try them all.

Japanese sushi

The Best Places to Immerse Yourself in Japan’s Edo Period

Taking place between 1603 and 1867, Japan’s Edo Period was a time of political peace and stability throughout the country. Edo, which is now modern-day Tokyo, was the largest city in the world at the time, and the remnants of this prosperous and stable period can still be seen in the city today. Much of what we think of as traditional Japanese culture comes from this time period with museums, gardens, buildings, and customs still echoing this period of Japan’s history. Some of the best places to immerse yourself in the Edo period can be found in Tokyo itself.

Edo Japan

Welcome to Okinawa: Japan’s Secret Beach Paradise

When you’re booking a paradise beach holiday, Japan probably isn’t the first destination that comes to mind, but the beautiful Okinawa in northern Japan will make you think otherwise. With acres of white sand, glittering blue oceans, and stunning scenery, Okinawa has everything you could hope for in a paradise island. Lounge on the beaches, get up close and personal with the spectacular marine life, or trek through the lush jungles. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to refuel with some of the island’s unique and flavourful cuisine.


If the guides listed above have put you in the mood to visit the Land of the Rising Sun, then start planning your cruise holiday to Japan today! Check out our wide selection of fantastic Japan cruise deals or ring our Australia-based cruise specialists on 1300 857 345.



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