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A view across the lively city of Osaka Hakodate's impressive star-shaped fort A traditional Japanese house by a tranquil lake

Home to over 127 million people, Japan is an archipelago island nation, which believe it or not, actually comprises 6,852 islands, though most of the population live on its four largest islands. From the futuristic mega city of Tokyo to historic Nagasaki, Japan cruises are sure to offer you an unforgettable holiday experience.

The capital of Japan and the largest metropolitan area on Earth, Tokyo is one of the world's most famous cities. Tokyo is every bit the neon metropolis you would imagine, and just walking through the bustling streets and soaking up the atmosphere is a great way to appreciate the city. However, a popular excursion choice is an exploration of the old town, where you'll venture through the city's ancient cultural heart, and see numerous temples, shrines and museums. Or how about a trip to Hakone National Park for an amazing view of the majestic national landmark Mt Fuji?

Nature and culture abound in Nagasaki, where the spectacular seaside views are apparent from the moment you arrive. It's especially poignant that this beautiful city, rich in temples and historic sites, was once the site of such destruction. Indeed, a visit to the Nagasaki Peace Park, built to honour those who lost their lives when the atomic bomb was dropped, is a popular cruise excursion activity. Or perhaps you'll chose to visit Shimabara, a fascinating old city which is home to Shimabara Castle, now a museum of Christian history?

It's not just the tempting sake which makes Kobe a key destination for Japan cruises, though a visit to the Sake Brewing Museum is certainly a popular excursion. A trip up Mt Rokko to the mountain's observatory is another popular choice with cruisers and as you can imagine, at 3,000 feet, the views are spectacular. Nearby Kyoto is another well-visited cruise port of call and also an excursion destination for cruisers visiting Kobe. It's full of Eastern atmosphere and tradition as well as some great historic sites to explore. Visit the gold-covered Kinkaku-ji Temple, the Heian Shrine, which was built to honour both Tokyo's founder and its last emperor, and the vibrant Nishiki Market. You may also have the chance zoom back into the present day, as the Shinkansen Bullet Train runs regularly between Kobe and Kyoto.

Like that of Nagasaki, Hiroshima's moving past cannot be ignored and indeed, the Hiroshima Peace Museum and National Park are two of the city's most enduring attractions. The city boasts 10 parks in total and each is a joy to explore. Cultural attractions include the famous Hiroshima Castle and national landmark Mitaki Temple as well as the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, a World Heritage Site which is home to a number of beautiful temples.

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