Japan is truly timeless, a place where ancient traditions are fused with modern life as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Wherever you are in Japan, it seems you're never more than 500m from a great meal!  Restaurants often specialise in just one dish – perhaps having spent generations perfecting it – and pay close attention to every stage, from sourcing the freshest, local ingredients to assembling the dish attractively. Moreover, you don't have to travel far to discover that Japanese cuisine is deeply varied. The hearty hotpots (Japanese fondues) of the mountains are, for example, dramatically different from the delicate sushi for which Tokyo, the capital, is famous.

Japan is a long, highly volcanic archipelago. It's over two-thirds mountains, with bubbling hot springs at every turn. In the warmer months there is excellent hiking, through cedar groves and fields of wildflowers, up to ancient shrines. In the winter, all this is covered with snow and the skiing is world class. Meanwhile in the southern reaches, there are tropical beaches for diving and surfing.

The neon-lit streetscapes of Japan's cities look like sci-fi film sets.  Tokyo and Osaka have been adding new architectural wonders.  There's an indelible buzz to these urban centres, with their vibrant street life, and 24-hour drinking and dining scenes…