Japan is a world apart – a cultural Galápagos where a unique civilisation blossomed, and today thrives in delicious contrasts of traditional and modern. The Japanese spirit is strong, warm and incredibly welcoming. Standing at the far-eastern end of the Silk Road and drawing influences from the entire continent, Japan has spent millennia taking in and refining the cultural bounties of Asia to produce something distinctly Japanese. From the splendour of a Kyoto geisha dance to the spare beauty of a Zen rock garden, Japan has the power to enthral even the most jaded traveller. Traditional culture is only half the story: an evolving contemporary-art scene, dynamic design, and a veracious appetite for pop-culture trends all help shape the fascinating old-meets-new cultural landscape.