Excavations of stone-age settlements date human arrival on the Japanese archipelago to be 100,000 years ago. The wonderful riddle of contemporary Japan is how whole-heartedly it has embraced all things modern—all the while retaining the customs of times past. This is truly a land of contrasts: from the bright lights and chaos of Tokyo to the elegance and history of UNESCO-protected Kyoto. It has the most serene and picturesque pockets-places with marvellous, meticulously tended gardens, centuries-old temples and remarkable mountain vistas.

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