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The Glam Guide to Visiting Japan

Even the most seasoned traveler will be dazzled by Japan. Aside from the island nation's beautiful temples, endless shopping, incomparable sushi and unrivaled tea, you'd be hard pressed not to be blown away by the Japanese people themselves. Enviably calm in demeanor, they are the most well-mannered, clean ($1,000,000 to anyone who spots a single piece of garbage while they are there…) and polite people you'll ever meet. Two weeks in Japan and I never heard so much as a scream, car horn or crying baby, and I traveled to the most populous areas at peak season.

Be prepared, however, for the fact that 99.9% of the people you will encounter do not speak English, including servers at top restaurants, hotel staff and cab drivers (nor can they read the Latin alphabet, so your best bet is to show them a piece of paper with where you want to go written out in Japanese). If you can afford it, get a private guide because getting around any other way is nearly impossible; in fact, even with a private guide you may have trouble finding things, as there are no western-style addresses and the buildings are not numbered sequentially. The city is divided in Ku (the character for Ku is , a Ku is then divided into several Machi (), which are then further divided into several Chome (丁目). After that is a number within the Chome–but again, buildings are not numbered sequentially. It cannot be understated how difficult it is to get around if you do not have a guide that speaks Japanese and knows the area very well.

Lastly, it is worth traveling during Japan's cherry blossom season, which usually ends in late March. This is the peak season, however, so it's essential to reserve hotels, restaurants and guides ahead of time. It's worth bearing in mind that Japan–already very expensive–is considerably more pricey during this very popular travel time.

Here's a closer look at what makes Japan one of the most unique places in the world.

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